I’m afraid. Afraid that I don’t know how to “make it.”
Not that I’m not talented enough or intelligent enough or brazen enough or enough of a troubleshooter because, quite frankly, the passage of time has made me into these things … Humbled by life’s various expressions of the concept “No” — into these things. Rejection has broken me in half, dipped the sliced parts in acid, bulldozed the remains into slithers of thin rice paper, gathered the bits back together, and poured it all into a hot iron cast — where I slowly, but surely melded into one again.
I’ve been sculpted into a woman who works really really really hard for what she loves, trusting that serendipity will conspire at some point with that hard work to produce finished projects, which she is proud to call Her Art Work.
Poetry, Essays, Short Stories, Reviews, Books, Screenplays, Documentaries, Short Fiction Films …
and … quite possibly, one day soon, the reigning Goddess of them all:
— A Full Narrative Feature.
Even so, I am afraid — scared shitless really — that my talent, intelligence, skill, and tenacity aren’t enough to “make it.”
To make it — my feature film Dear Dios — in a manageable and enjoyable manner.
I’ve run the Guerilla-filmmaking track several times, and learned along the way that making a finished film is not the great hurdle — Distributing a finished film is.
One of the best films I’ve ever seen is The Last Summer of La Boyita. Have you ever heard of it? Exactly.
Hollywood isn’t made famous so much for the quality/artistry of its films, but for the quality/artistry of its Distribution of films. Hollywood gets movies marketed and exhibited all over the world through numerous avenues — film festival circuits, theatrical runs, dvd rentals, pay per view, cable distribution, netflix instant streaming, etc. Hollywood gives Movies — quality or not — a shot in the global psyche by seemlessly shoving them into the faces of countless millions.
It’s not the art of filmmaking that weighs down on my neck — that I fret about in the dark hours of sleepless weeks — but the art of distribution: 1) Marketing 2) Exhibition
I know a lot of filmmakers, specifically independent filmmakers, who get their films funded through grants and/or fiscal sponsorship of sorts. Most of these films are documentaries or narratives about minority issues.
I also know a lot of independent filmmakers that get their films funded through corporate backing and advertising profits.
The creative quality of the projects vary from breathtakingly outstanding to abusively horrid.
The one commonality most of these films share, which staples them into my brain: They can’t secure proper distribution. This means the film doesn’t get what it really needs to be SEEN: 1) Killer Marketing 2) Audience Accessibility through numerous Exhibition channels.
I could go on and on about the many countless mainstream and guerilla ways a filmmaker employs to make/distribute their films. Additionally, I could go on and on about my first hand experience, the endless hours of the research I’ve conducted, the seminars I’ve attended, the books I’ve read, and the advice I’ve been given on those topics …
But I’m trying to get to the root of my anguish … What burdens me, fills my chest with tacks, and bludgeons my passionate fearlessness into a whimpering pup.
What I know to be “the horror stories of the moviemaking business” or “the slim chances of getting a feature film off the ground” or…blah blah blah — are not what scare me. I’ve heard it all and seen a lot of it and I don’t care.
Dear Dios is getting made and shown …
I’m terrified by the fact that I just don’t know the best full-proof way to go about it.
My main concerns being: 1) Maintaining creative control 2) Securing Proper Distribution, which includes hefty marketing and smart exhibition strategies/audience accessibility.
Like I said in the blog post before this one: Grants were Plan A. The dream plan. Academia’s stamp of support and approval. I know many a blessed filmmaker who fund their projects and livelihoods this way.
3 years later — Plan A is Plan Over. The 40-hour applications proved great writing practice: Sped up the quality and delivery of treatments, vision summaries, synopses, screenplay, and honed my essay writing skills like no formal writing course ever did.
Aside from that, however, nothing — only neon mailing confirmations and post office receipts scattered about my computer desk. Reminders that, not so long ago, I naively thought and hoped with every inch of me that “making a movie” could be a safe and predictable affair.
Years of Academia train you to believe in such false havens. The Academic Way is characterized by a comforting lovely structure: When you do your best — you apply and get accepted, turn in test and get an A, graduate from Grade X and move onto Grade Y. It creates an unrealistic picture of Life — as being a controllable and comprehensible thing.
When in actuality, Life is Mother Nature — a transient and unpredictable force — The Wild West.
So yes, I’m scared. Scared that I can’t, as I had once hoped when applying to grants, make my movie with a formulaic certainty. Approach it — strategically and emotionally — the way I use to do school exams. Scared of the open ended dance with Serendipity I now face …
Yes, I’m riddled with anxiety, fear, and worry. Anxious that a small being must pull off such a grandiose task. Afraid that neither timing or opportunity knows of my existence. Worried that preparation and hard work won’t make up for Serendipity’s unruly and inconsistent presence in my life.
Scared shitless that Luck picks favorites and is so taken with the charming Meryl Streep, it may have forgotten about me.