It still has not sunk in that I’m done.
Some time in the summer of 2010, while at a crappy temp job, I sat down and made a list of all the scenes that still needed to be shot. Shortly after completing that list I almost cried. It was so depressing to think I was about 1.5 years deep and maybe half way done, with the hardest shoots still ahead of me. It felt so hopeless, like this movie would never get done. My only defense from mental breakdown was to ignore that list. I put it in the back of a production folder. I put my head down and kept moving, picking scenes and shooting them when I could, treating each scene like its own short film:
- email the cast
- get the location
- pick a day
- pick the next scene
…and edit in between shoot dates (sometimes there would be months between shoot days. Place gunshot sfx here).
It wasn’t until the fall of last year I revisited that list and realized I was very close to finishing. Once again, I almost cried.
Interviewer: Mr. King, how do you write all those books?
Stephen King: One word at a time.
The whole reason I made Master of Inventions was to get my film career started. No one else was going to start it for me, and after my trip to SXSW in ’09 I realized I could do it my way: Make a film with the resources I had and not spend any money or go deep into debt. The only thing I would spend was my time. It’s all I had.
This movie suffers greatly from time. Whenever I told someone how long I’d been shooting this movie, the same very obvious question would come up, “Won’t your actors look drastically different in the scenes?” the answer: YUUUUUP! #StorageWars
Irritating, yes, but also pretty hilarious. Neil Arsenty miraculously lost 70 pounds during the course of shooting. I should have been mad, but after all that weight loss, he was just too damn handsome.
It wasn’t just the production that suffered. It was easy to be exited when things were going good and invigorated when a challenge had to be met, but mostly the lengthy production wore on me in the form of boredom and loneliness. I can’t count the number of weekends I’d spend Friday night to Sunday night editing, writing, shooting or what ever. A lot of my friends are performers, and the one thing performers love to do (almost as much as performing) is post on facebook how much fun they’re having. The Saturday and Sunday mornings I had to endure photo after status update about the epic parties I totally missed while chained to this desk was really tough.
You can believe there were dozens of times I wanted to quit. Broken equipment, bad hair cuts, poorly shot scenes, bad tape stock, shitty microphones, busy schedules, horrible weather, hangovers… You name it, we had to deal with it. I developed a mantra to get me through the excruciating defeats, stalls and weekends of editing boredom:
“This is where everyone else would quit.”
I knew anyone else would’ve given up at these moments, and with good reason. If you’re struggling right now with your movie or project, I get it. It makes total sense to cut your losses and walk away, and most people would. But please remember: it’s very hard on purpose and almost everyone quits.
“But it’s hopeless! And if I keep going I’m positive it’s going to be horrible and not turnout right!”
It’s your job to save it, and if you eliminate quitting as an option, you’ll only have the path of finishing ahead of you. Personally, I feel a finished ‘shitty’ movie will always be a million times better than an unfinished ‘great idea that still needs more funding or rewrites or is currently being developed into a blah blah blah’ movie.
I want to make movies. Plain and simple. My hope is this $2,000 film will help me eventually raise $35,000 for the next one. Then that one will help me raise $100K for the one after that, and so on. This is an absolute guess / wishful thinking, but if it takes me 10 movies to get to a 35K budget then so be it.
One of my hopes when I started making this film was that making a movie would be an amazingly fun and rewarding experience. I was right.
I’m very lucky / grateful to have had such a talented cast and crew who were willing to put in the hours with me. I probably didn’t express my gratitude then, but to all that helped: thank you so very much, especially Jeff Murdoch, Tim Heurlin, Katie O’Brien, Chris Othic and Ed Boe, who went out of their way and sacrificed so much of their time and energy to this project. If you know them, be sure to shake their hands. They’re some of the best people around.
Ug, I think I’m going to cry.