When you ain’t got no Loop in yer Lasso

Posted: December 8, 2010 in Essays on filmmaking
Tags: ,

Discouragement.

It is a part of every filmmaker’s life. And if it isn’t, I don’t want to know. It’s a part of mine. A big, monstrous, energy sapping part.

Discouragement can come from any step in the process. Discouragement can come when fund raising doesn’t go how you hoped. Or when production suffers major setbacks, or if Post takes FOREVER, or when you show it, audiences don’t respond how you hoped, or you show and there is no audience.

Things aren’t going to go how you planned. And if you plan for things to not go how you planned, things will find a new, unexpected way to go not how you planned. It’s a buckin’ bronco ride, and the winner is the person who hangs on till the end.

But you might get kicked in the face a few dozen times along the way.

So today I want to talk about three ways to cope with film making discouragement.

  1. Have someone who thinks you are great.

When you get out there, you are going to run in to a lot of people who don’t care if you are alive.

Some people respond by saying, “Oh, yeah! Then I will care twice as much!” That just makes you arrogant. And it doesn’t help, unless you’d rather be hated than anonymous. Then it’s perfect.

A better way to swallow all the “I don’t care” the world throws at you is to have someone in your life who thinks you are pretty swell. Not a swell filmmaker. Not a sycophant or a fan. Someone who thinks you are swell person. A friend or a partner. Someone who you can spend time with and get all your person-ness back from the beast.

  1. Only control what you can control.

Making a movie is all encompassing. There’s the long shooting days, the never ending needs of this that and the other. And you can get all encompassed into things you can’t control or contribute to. Sitting behind the sound engineer while he works isn’t good for you and it isn’t good for him.

So say the serenity prayer now and mean it, before you get yourself so messed up you end up in AA. Lots of film types end up with addictions. I’d guess this is why.

  1. Get away for a while.

This isn’t always possible, when you have deadlines or a bunch of money is on the line, but say you are doing something low budget, and the timetable is as long as it takes to get it done cheap, and you’ve been concentrating on it for over a year. Do you know what that does to a person? Craziness is what it does.

If there is no deadline, don’t kill yourself over it. Yes, you want it done as fast as possible, so that the rewards of having done it can replace the pains of having to do it, already, but if you wear yourself emotionally thin, will it ever get done at all?

Take a break. Time away helps you collect enthusiasm, and when you run out of money, enthusiasm is the only fuel left.

 

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