On Dec. 10, 2004, a small film crew gathered at 6:30 in the morning for the first day of shooting on a short film. It was only a three-day shoot — with some pickup shots on a fourth day — but everything was planned in detail.
For more than a year, I had struggled to take the germ of an idea and turn it into a film. I had recruited someone I knew in local video production to help me find a crew. Some of the people we recruited were fantastic and some turned out to be nightmares to work with. Some did their jobs and others were dumped along the way.
The process was really ugly at times.
I didn’t know how to write a script. I had to figure out how to structure something entirely different from what I’d ever written before. I had to trust production people who I barely knew. And I couldn’t afford to get better people (or paid actors) because I had a grand total budget of only $8,500.
The three full days of production were hard work. A lot of things didn’t go right. There were times when we hadn’t yet found the actors to stand in shots for the scenes that we were driving to a location to film at that moment. And I was always painfully conscious that I didn’t know enough about what I was doing. I got so stressed out toward the end of the first shooting day that I pulled the director of photography into a room privately and said, “I’m so stressed that I’ve forgotten what we’re about to do. Please help me here.”
But in the end, I made a modest short film that I’m proud of. It won a handful of awards and was shown at 25 film festivals in five countries. What I’ve realized lately is that the ugly creative process is just as important as the final film — and it’s time for me to open parts of my process to you.
If I’m going to be serious about changing my life — and becoming the artist I need to be — I’m going to have to show you the ugly parts of the process that I hope will create my films of the future. So here’s what I’m working on.