I’d been hoping to keep the blog updated, but fortunately or unfortunately I found myself busier than expected once I settled into Brooklyn. Since the last update I’ve gone from concept to premiere of a music video for the release of a new photobook “Maripola X” by the artist Maripol for Le Livre Art Publishing, and it has definitely been a crash course in producing music videos.
It all started when I got a panicked call from a friend, she was taxiing on a tarmac on her way to Davos, Switzerland aboard the last flight of the night. A dream job producing interviews for a new cable channel had come up, and she needed to find someone that could produce two music videos and have them prepped to shoot when she got back stateside.
By the time we had concepted and treated the video for approval from the publisher we had started to run into hiccups. Our initial concept had revolved around using an elaborate projection mapping setup to overlay our narrative based on the photobook throughout the room. As we sat down with our projectionist he started to get a little worried we hadn’t reserved the projectors already…the weekend of the shoot was superbowl sunday. As soon as we started calling around, we found the weekend rate of projectors normally two-hundred-and-fifty dollars a rental were each now over a thousand. We were sent back to the drawing board. It was terrifying and exciting having to revamp a treatment that close to the shoot, and it was really interesting to see just what kind of creativity gets conjured up against tight deadlines and constraints.
Once we worked the treatment over, it was a wild race pulling together all the preproduction elements through these snow storms that keep rocking the North East, but through sheer willpower we made it happen. The shoot was fairly straightforward, I had a chance to bring on a lot of SCAD alumni that’ve also made the trek up north, so we’d all worked together through film school. The real pain started to come in once we realized just what kind of deadline our post production timeline was going to have to fit into. The book was making its US release the last weekend of Fashion Week, with a book signing at BookMarc that Friday and a final release party that Sunday at Le Baron. It took us four pounds of bulk ground coffee from Costco, but we made it happen. Now it’s time to catch up on laundry.
It’s a new year, and I’m really excited for what’s on the horizon. I took my time to decompress post graduation, and I’m happy to say that I just took the plunge and moved to Brooklyn. It’s going to be a big year, and I’m really excited to start releasing some of the projects that I’ve been slaving over the past year. I’m hoping to get back to writing more regularly this new year, so as soon as I assemble a room full of Ikea furniture it’s on.
In the spirit of new beginnings I’ll leave you with a quote from Peter Theil I particularly like for the start of new adventures.
“There is something importantly singular about each new thing. There is a mini singularity whenever you start a company or make a key life decision. In a very real sense, the life of every person is a singularity.
The obvious question is what you should do with your singularity. The obvious answer, unfortunately, has been to follow the well-trodden path. You are constantly encouraged to play it safe and be conventional. The future, we are told, is just probabilities and statistics.You are a statistic.
But the obvious answer is wrong. That is selling yourself short. There are still many large white spaces on the map of human knowledge. You can go discover them. So do it. Get out there and fill in the blank spaces. Every single moment is a possibility to go to these new places and explore them.
There is perhaps no specific time that is necessarily right to start your company or start your life. But some times and some moments seem more auspicious than others. Now is such a moment. If we don’t take charge and usher in the future—if you don’t take charge of your life—there is the sense that no one else will.”
Happy New Years everyone.
I’m writing a recap of the experience shooting “Sells Like Teen Spirit,” but in the mean time peep some of these awesome behind the scenes stills Rosario Edwards was nice enough to snap while we were shooting. And yes, during filming I did have to sleep in our custom-built drug den. Twas a very strange immersion process indeed.
A lot of people have been asking me what I’ve been up to since I finished up my BFA at SCAD this past August, so I thought a short update on my goings-on was in order.
Below are some of the most inspiring, useful quotes on filmmaking that I’ve come across in my studies. Hope they spur some thought in you as well. I know that I go back to these wise words often.
“The worst mistake a young filmmaker can make is to believe that the cinema is an objective art. The only true way of being a filmmaker is not only to have a personal point of view but also to impose it on the film, at every level. You make your film and you make it for yourself, always with the hope, of course, that what you like about it will also be liked by others. If you try to make a film for the audience, you can’t surprise audience, you can’t surprise them. And if you don’t surprise them, then you can’t make them think or evolve. Therefore, the film is first and your film…On a technical level, too, my directing is completely subjective. Each artistic decision to be made based either on a logical and even moral explanation or on pure instinct. I always allow my instinct to guide me, but I understand that others find logic more reassuring. In any case, there isn’t really a cinematic grammar. Or rather, there are hundreds of them, sine each director invents his or her own.”
- Emir Kusturica
“This search for your own path, for the truths underlying your formation and patterns, starts feeding itself once you make a commitment to expressing something about it. This willingness to begin the journey sustains the artistic process, at the beginning you get clues, clues lead to discoveries, discoveries lead to movement in your work, and movement leads to new clues. A piece of work – whether a painting, a short story, or a script – is therefore both the evidence of movement and the engine of progress during the search for meanings. Your work becomes the trail of your own evolution.”
- Michael Rabinger
“To me style is just the outside of content, and content the inside of style, like the outside and inside of human body. Both go together, they can’t be separated.”
- Jean-Luc Godard
“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”
- Robert Breeson, Film Director
“It’s not where you lift it from, it’s where you lift it to.”
- Jarmush recalling Godard
“I keep persuading younger colleagues to whom I teach scriptwriting and directing, to examine their own lives. The years in which you don’t work on yourself like this, are in fact wasted.”
- Krysztof Kieslowski
“You don’t make a movie, the movie makes you.”
- Jean-Luc Godard
“My movie is born fist in my head, dies on paper; is resuscitated by the living persons and real objects I use, which are killed on film, but placed in a certain order and projected on to a screen, come to life again like flowers in water.”
- Robert Bresson
“I always direct the same film. I can’t distinguish one from another.”
- Federico Fellini
“To shoot a film is to organize a complete universe.”
- Ingmar Bergman
“Film can do amazing things with abstraction, but it rarely gets a chance. People are treated like idiots, and people are not idiots. We’re hip to the human condition, the human experience, and we love mysteries.”
- David Lynch
“I never made a film which fully satisfied me.”
- Roman Polanski
“Film is not the art of scholars, but of illiterates.”
- Werner Herzog
“Making films has got to be one of the hardest endeavors known to humankind. Straight up and down, film work is hard shit.”
- Spike Lee
“The theatre is like a faithful wife. The film is the great adventure – the costly, exacting mistress.”
- Ingmar Bergman
“The directing of a picture involves coming out of your individual loneliness and taking a controlling part in putting together a small world. A picture is made. You put a frame around it and move on. And one day you die. That is all there is to it.”
- John Huston
As I handed in my demonstration reel to the professor on my last day of film school, a strange realization washed over me. I had come to learn how to make films, and leaving that classroom I realized that I had done just that. It’s hard to realize that you’re getting better, each project will always have the holes and issues that will haunt you each time you see it, but with each project you are learning through mistakes. It took me cutting my demonstration reel to realize that I had in fact improved in spite of all the teeth gnashing and hair pulling the prospect of watching my old projects brings on. Each film is a learning lesson, and it’s only when you step back that you realize just how skills develop. So take a step back and think about everything you know not to do now born out of tragic errors and foolish thinking, that’s how you’ll know you’re not as dumb as you used to be. That’s skill.
Irving Thalberg is perhaps one of the most prolific, accomplished, and legendary producers in Hollywood’s long and rich history. From becoming the first head of production of any major studio inventing and taking on the position at Universal at age twenty-two, to making film history with an unparalleled run heading up Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer at age twenty-six where he created some of the medium’s most iconic stars and films, he is someone that all should admire and strive to learn from. In my studies of Thalberg’s career I stumbled upon five rules he lived and worked by, and no matter what field or craft you practice, these simple pragmatic beliefs can do us all well to remember. The below excerpt is from “Irving Thalberg: Boy Wonder to Producer Prince” by Mark A. Vieira.
“He was taken with William Jame’s philosophy of pragmatism, which held that a philosopher “turns away from abstraction and insufficiency, from verbal solutions, from bad a priori reasons, from fixed principles, closed systems, and pretended absolutes and…turns towards concreteness and adequacy, towards facts, towards action and towards power.” In time, Irving distilled these philosophies into five rules:
1.) Never hold an “unassailable” opinion.
2.) The clearness with which I see my goal determines my speed in reaching it.
3.) Expect help from no one.
4.) Pride goeth before a fall, and the height of the pride determines the severity of the bump.
5.) Never take one man’s opinion as final.
The post I wrote last night “You have to beat the man to be the man.” sparked an interesting conversation on the homepage of Hacker News this afternoon and I finally had a chance to go through some of the comments and write a response. I thought it would be best to post the response here as well to keep everything organized for others who might find the discussion later and want to chime in with their thoughts. Follow up below.