January 24, 2008

Deep thoughts on my own ability as an artist...

OK.  So this year, I decided I would blow off the buzz and see what grabbed me.  That honestly hasn't been a lot of stuff.

So, I've been just enjoying my time here.  Going to parties, meeting interesting people, meeting funders and setting up meetings after the fest, enjoying food, taking things slow, no pressure, no worries, no stress...since I haven't been doing much of that lately.  But I'll get back to the movies later.  I want to talk about my process as an editor and a documentary filmmaker.

It's funny.  Someone said to me recently "So, you're a documentary filmmaker."  I actually got defensive and pissed off a little.  "No, I'm not.  I do narratives".  I said.  Then instantly, I recanted.  I didn't understand my reaction and I had to stop and analyze my reaction.  It was strange.  Just like someone called me a director, and I said. "Oh, no, I'm not a director."  But you know what, I am.  I've never wanted to be, and I certainly still don't want to be.  It's not who I am as an artist.  I make dreams come true, but I don't dream the dreams.

Many of you know, but for those that don't, I've been working on a doc over the past year and a half.  I, by default really, became the director and have been editing the film with a great editor, Richard Williams, of Post 22.  It's been tough finding the story and trying to finish the film in time for festivals.  Many of our deadlines have passed, and although I'm constantly mocked by those Festival update e-mails I get everyday, I know the film is better for having taken this long.

It's been a tough journey for me, as I consider myself a non-artist.  I'm a molder.  I take your creativity and elevate it to the next level.   I've been producing long enough to know what true art and true artisans can do.  I've been extremely tough on myself, and I finally came to this realization.  

My story rocks and that's all that matters at the end of the day.

I shouldn't keep trying to make it a festival film, or at least, a doc that pushes the boundaries of doc filmmaking.  That does not serve my story.  It is what it is.  Could it be better if I took 2 years to complete it?  Sure.  But who in the hell has two years?  Not me.  Not my investors. And certainly NOT my story.  I know many things about my film could be better, but ultimately, I did the best with the resources I had.  I'm proud of the hard work of my crew and the story I think I will be able to tell.  It's an amazing story and I just have to trust it to lead me where we want to go with it.

I'm really proud of what we've accomplished and I'm really excited about finishing this movie.  I certainly know I will hear lots of crap about it, as my standards are very high and I'm not sure I met them on my first directorial attempt, but you know what?  I don't care what anyone thinks, but my subjects.  I'm so scared I'm not doing their story justice.  I think that is much of the stress I am under more than anything else.  I need to finish it, and that's stressful, as I've been working for 6 months without pay, but really, I'm so worried that I won't due to the story justice that it keeps me up at night.  

My characters are deep, rich and complex, and I need a mini-series to convey that.  But I only have 1.5-2 hours to tell a life story, the struggles, and the complexities of their life.  I'm scared as hell I will fail THEM, not my audience.  

I'm actually crying as I write this.  I'm truly scared as hell.  I'm out of my comfort zone completely.  I'm the one freaking out, crying, call my director friends begging them to help me off the ledge I feel I'm about to plunge off when I'm overwhelmed.  I used to be the one that would help them off the ledge.  I didn't know what it felt like to tetter on that edge.  I never understood that freak out that artists have about being hacks.  I get it now.  It's just part of the process you must endure.  It's a fucking dark place to be sometimes, but it's so funny too, because as soon as you think the darkness will overwhelm you something amazing happens.  A happy accident or a new way of thinking...suddenly all the answers are right there in front of you, but you just couldn't see them before.  Your eyes were not open and you weren't ready for the possibilities.

I used to get depressed when I saw an amazing doc, because I could see the creative choices made from the start and I could see they had a vision to begin with.  I was visionless and I felt it showed.  That honestly still chaps my ass about my lack of ability to have a specific vision.  But I also realize, that I'm still blessed with my ability to mold.  My story has always been there, waiting for me to mold it into something amazing, inspiring, heart-wrenching, yet full of hope and laughter.

I hope you feel the same when you watch my film some day...in the meantime...


Go to the buzz page, click on videos, and watch Diana's clip.  If this doesn't break your heart, you aren't human.

1 comment:

Lynn said...

Linda, you are putting too much pressure on yourself. Maybe the doc is a fest film, maybe it isn't. Does it matter? Maybe you get traditional distribution, maybe you self-distribute. Does it matter? If you go the self-distribution route you know who and where your audience is -- that's leaps and bounds above where most of us start. I think anytime we put ourselves in situations outside of our comfort zone it makes us grow. You are seeing another side of the process, good for you. It's a position that many folks would like to be in -- having the chance to craft a feature length doc and seeing it go from start to completion in 2 years -- that's pretty swift. Okay, that's enough soft love. Here's some tough love -- suck it up crybaby and get the damn thing finished so I can see it! Lynn