Filmmaking With a Hint of Cynicism

The other day I had dinner with a good friend (and fellow struggling filmmaker) and proceeded to drop a load of cynicism on him. I wanted to tell him the harsh realities of producing a film, the fight to get people to see it, and how to make it stand out of a crowd full of thousands of equally awesome movies. I intended this to be like a Public Service, warning him of the fight ahead so he knew what to prepare for it. His response: "Then I should just give up and not make a movie then?"

I may have been a bit harsher than I intended.

I find that this is something that happens to you the longer you stay in Los Angeles (and presumably any major creative market), the rising cynicism. Vividly I remember the production manager on my first crummy reality show laughing at my aspirations to be a director. "Good luck with that," she chuckled through bites of her sandwich (we were at lunch, so it wasn't weird or anything), "we all wanted to be directors when we moved out here and look at us now."

It was rather depressing, but it was a good thing to hear.

I needed to know how hard it was in this business, so I could have the barest idea of what I was getting myself into as a career. It helped me realize how important it is to keep my eye on the prize, no matter how hard things get or discouraging things can be. And while I might have become more cynical in the past few years, I know that as I keep at it, good things will happen. It's that optimism that keeps me going, and I know will serve me well in the future.

That's what I meant to say to this friend of mine, but didn't quite have the mental acuity to pull it off at the time. And you know, the time to polish and craft the perfect phrases.

So while the road is VERY tough to get your movie made - not to mention difficult to actually shoot, a bear to edit, the slog through the rest of post, festivals are full of disappointments, and God only knows what a distributer is like - it's still a very worthwhile one if it's truly what you want to do. I always say that this town is all about perseverance and that every step you take is a step that someone else couldn't and/or deemed too far.

As long as you're making progress, you'll get to your goal eventually. At least, that's what I tell myself and I'm about to direct a feature. Take that ya sandwich chompin' PM!

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