Wednesday, February 08, 2006

"Too Stupid To Know Better"

I hear a lot of people say that, that they were too stupid to know any better, especially from those who made a splash into the film industry as directors. They take chances and use unconventional means to finish the job, because they are forced to. It's often why their first film remains their best, too. I wonder if I suffer from a little of that stupidity. People tell me I'm expecting to much of my first feature. But I can't see how. Are there little things that I don't notice right now that will trip me up? Definitely. But really, does a person need anything other than passion and drive to make a project happen? It's funny, when I worked in construction all those years, there was a saying amongst the foreman and big boss-Make It Happen. Don't have enough time to finish? Make it happen. The sheetrock wasn't delivered? Make it happen. Over and over again, the reply was basically NO COMPROMISE. Proceed as planned, because there is no other choice. I used to roll my eyes after hearing it spewed out by my foreman, who is an ex-marine. But years removed, I think it is exactly what I am doing now. The reason it never resonated before was that I didn't believe in what I was doing, and I didn't take a personal interest. It was a job I loathed much more than I loved. But now that I care about something, I can see I follow that advice on a daily basis. When I get turned down, I bitch and hate the world, but I don't give up. I find an alternate route.

Friend: How the hell did you get Metallica and Adidas to sign off on a clearance for this tiny movie?
Me: Um, I don't know really. And it's not tiny-it's budget unknown.
Friend: You know it's not normal, right?
Me: No, I don't know that.

Friend: So, how did you do it?

Me: Two emails, and two phone calls.

Friend: What?!

Me: Anyone can do it.

Friend: I don't think so. You got them for free. Why don't more people do it then?
Me: I don't know. All I did was call.

Too stupid to know whether or not this is the way things work. I just Made It Happen Whether this is normal or not is not the point. The point is, I don't know if it is or not. It's called drive.
I saw this in action in film school. Everyone wanted to be a director when the class started. After our first project, I would wager 50% wilted under the pressure and changed their aspirations accordingly. They gave up over one weekend, a 48 hour film contest, and that was that. It was a shame really. There were some real talented people who just didn't have that passion, or drive to finish one measly project. I stayed up 44 of those hours filming and editing, and didn't win a thing except some laughs from the crowd when we screened it. That kept me going though. I bet there were 300 people enrolled in my class. I would say 250 wanted to be directors. 6 months in, it probably dipped to 100. By graduation, I don't think it's crazy to say only 25 ended up sticking with directing as their main interest. Out of that 25, 10 will finish one feature film. 2 out of that 10 will attempt another. And it all comes down to making it happen.

I suppose there are certain personality traits that one must possess in order to have that stubborn drive, and I can't necessarily fault someone for a lack of those traits. I think you either got 'em, or you don't. I have a strong red personality. I'm stubborn, and I have innate leadership skills. I am also quite mean, and can almost become a God in my own mind overnight. Thankfully, I have a very big case of horrific self doubt immediately after to keep me grounded. Some people constantly pass the responsibility of the smallest jobs on a set to someone else(on amateur productions). Some have a chance to take charge and don't for fear of stepping on toes. Other's are content to be a grip for their entire life. And all of that is okay. But I'm not one of those people, and I think that's what will make this film a successful endeavor. I will just Make It Happen.


Konrad West said...

Very well said.

When do we get to see your feature?

JD said...

I hope to have it completed by November. The shoot is only 1, possibly 2 days a week, so we're looking at 5 months for that. I will be editing as I go, so that will speed up the process.

Grubber said...


Some people see problems as problems, others see them as challenges. You just see them as challenges.

I often read about sportsmen and women, and many people say that the only reason they made it to the top and others didn't, was drive. Same with this industry, and nearly any profession you care to name, drive is what can count most of the time. Skills can mostly be learned, drive is something(as you said) you do or do not have.

Enjoy it, and I hope the film comes out as you want it.

Best of luck

Lucy said...

Right on. I don't make films, but a lot of people said to me "an 18 yr old single mum couldn't go to university to study screenwriting as she'd never get a job afterwards". Well I have screenwriting jobs, both writing and teaching and those "others" can stick it up their ass ; ) Great blog by the way.

Tim Clague said...

Too stupid to know better or too clever to give up?