I'd like to take a moment, please:
It is a struggle to be an independent filmmaker. Period.
I generally work 7 times for one project:
The hours are what you can scrape around your full-time job. I work at least 40 hours per week. A year ago, it was averaging closer to 50. I have to give at least 2-3 weeks' notice before taking time off, so I have to plan carefully, knowing I can't just throw in 'rain dates'.
The little pockets you plan for unfailingly fail in some way - equipment issues, last-minute drop-outs, locations fall through, actors get sick, toilets breaking... Yes, I have personally dealt with all of the above.
And, it's all your problem. After all, this is your circus, and your gloriously talented monkeys. It's all YOU.
If you're lucky enough to have a team to help scout for locations, schedule cast & crew, plan shot lists, you're at a slight advantage - slight only because the contingencies still apply.
No one else will ever care as much about your project as you do.
So, you hitch up your big-girl pants and carry on. And, this just gets you to the production stage!
On set, you work with a diverse group of people. It's your job to make them comfortable, set expectations and get the work done. They opted to work with you based on reputation, the script, group you're working with, or any number of personal reasons. And, if it's an unpaid project, you need to work harder to ensure you provide value and respect for everyone's time.
You get through the pages, all your planned shots, and everyone goes home. Your film/sketch/series is in the can, and you've captured your vision to the best of your ability. And, it won't be without compromise, but you accept that as part of the deal. Sometimes things won't work practically as you'd envisioned, and sometimes you simply run out of time. But, it's done, in a tangible form. YOU DID IT!!!
It's exhausting, expensive, and exceptionally exhilarating when it all comes together.
But, it's far from over. Now it's your job to sort through all the pieces you've captured, and collect more, to craft your narrative. The fun part is over. And, now the fun begins.
This round is the longest, loneliest stretch. It takes painstaking precision, a feel for timing, and a lot of perseverance to assemble this moving jigsaw puzzle.
The collaborative sustained energy of your cast and crew have long since gone, as you stare at a monitor for hours on end. However long you think it will take you to assemble even a rough cut - multiply it by 3...or 10.
Oh, and, don't forget, you still have that day job (and maybe family, health conditions, other responsibilities). So, again, this is all pursued in your personal time - when you feel physically and mentally up to the work.
And, as fun as it can be, believe you me, it is WORK.
Most days I am braindead after my day job. A shower, a nap, and, if I'm lucky, I'm able to put a little time in on an idea or edit. I try to take at least one of my days off to focus exclusively on editing for a few hours. But, again, editing is a long, intricate process. Four hours may mean two seconds of a film come together, or maybe one problem millisecond is worked out.
"So, why'd ya ask for a moment, Pep? This seems pretty straightforward. You don't seem to be ranting about the process or bitching about anyone. What gives?"
Simmer down, Sally. I'm getting to it.
No-budget, independent filmmaking is a difficult, mostly thankless, unappreciated and underestimated endeavor. It is full of compromises, struggles, obstacles, time-sucks, hidden expenses, and, in the end, your film/episode/series may not even get many views. It may turn out shitty - or others may make you believe it is. It may never be good enough, make you any money, or be deemed 'worth it' to those who were part of the journey.
You can only hope that's not the case. But, if it is, and you agree, you can learn from your mistakes & move on. Either way, you will have made something, which is far more rare than you realize.
And, now: MY MOMENT:
I choose a moment of gratitude. (Fuck y'all who were hoping for drama - there ya go, it's in a parenthetical).
I gratefully acknowledge the cast, crew, and tribe who consistently support what I do. Who have joined my no-budget, unpaid projects. Who collaborate and work with me to create the best version possible. Who don't need to know the nitty-gritty of what I'm doing, or how far along I am with editing their scenes. Who give me breathing room to get things done within the time I have. Once in a while, someone will respectfully inquire about progress, to which I am always upfront, and try to push myself as much as possible.
But, most of all, I wanted to appreciate and acknowledge the TRUST of everyone, that I will finish what I started. That it will be the best version possible, and that we can learn & grow together.
In the meantime, I sincerely THANK YOU. I know there are long stretches before you see the fruits of your labors, and I appreciate your patience and continued support.
And, for those readers who haven't been part of my film projects, thank you for being here. Your support is also part of this journey.
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