It is now 2012 and each day i find myself facing what often appears to be a never ending supply of problems ranging from high school level issues to financial. I have found a commonality in each of the problems, people. It seems we are in the business of people. I know this seems obvious, except when you are in the middle of the problem, you often on see the problem, the I need this or that. When you pull back you begin to see some common issues with problems in film.
Lets take the issue of money in film. Well it really is not an issue, films make money, and believe it or not most films can make money if the film is made for the right budget. It is not the needing of money. There are lots of people who want to invest in film because the see the value of it. The problem is simply getting past the people that say they have money so that you can spend your time with the people who actually do have money.
Everyone says they can finance a film. Which is why you hear so many promises which never happen. This leaves you and for that matter myself scratching yours and my head. (not sure that sentence works, but you get the message). I have stood astounded and amazed why would someone spend so much time trying to deliver something they don’t have. Half the time I would work with them even if they couldn’t. It is this time that kills you as a filmmaker. You need your time to go towards people and projects that can move forward. The other part of the problem is the people who have made movies, but have never been involved in the financing of them. They always say they know how it is done, and spend so much time getting in your way, trying to make you do it their way. Their way does not work. How do you know this? If it did they would not need you.
Once you have financed a film no matter no matter how small, you probably have a real idea on how it is done. I have heard that it works in this ratio: 1 to 10. If you financed a 100K film you now can finance a 1M film. I hope this is true. There is no real right way, but there are a whole bunch of wrong ways to finance a film which I will simply say is this. If it feels like a short cut, it probably is and will not work. And if it does work, will most likely get you or your project in trouble.
Now onto the high School problems. These are issues of egos, yours, mine and especially theirs. If you keep it about the project, which is defined as getting it made, financed or out, you probably are doing okay. The problem is many people chase the feeling. They need film to justify themselves as having some value. Film does not do that. It entertains and their is no salvation in entertainment. I have sat in many rooms and been told how it is, by people who have never been actually been responsible for actually making it happen. They have always been “involved” in an aspect and saw how someone else or worse yet read how someone else did it. If they have not produced, financed, or distributed the film they probably no nothing about making it happen. Directing is the iffy part of all of this. The directors depending on how involved in the project they were, might be able to do it. Often their egos correction creative drive, interfere with the clear sightedness required to move a deal from point A to Z.
Now Application: Continuum Pictures has been the effort of many people inside the company and outside. We have often had people helping us. The hardest part is teaching people to do it our way. When people start working with us they want to do it the way they have “seen” or “heard”. A prophet is never accepted in their own land. This is true with building a team. The moment you get to know someone, the strangers advice is always truer. The reason for this is simple. When you work close to someone, you begin to see their faults, and even more scarier what you may interpret as leaps of faith, which are in all reality instinct combined with experience. Because of your own lack of experience it is confusing. This confusion leads to fear and fear well, you know what Yoda says. I prefer to quote Dune: “Fear is the mind killer.” I have seen this over and over. People quitting just before you cross the finish line, or simply needing desperately to be right.
This need to be right and fear, has destroyed more projects than you can imagine. I have watched it even hurt our own team. People see being right as part of their self esteem. Film is not self esteem, it is simply film. It is was you do and it is what you get done. If you do it right, it can do amazing physical things for you, from health to owning things. Film is not a spiritual journey. How you make film can be a spiritual journey, if it applies to how you see people and their foibles.
Now there will always be those who bring chaos, haters. Often times in film you will meet people who you think see the journey the same way you do. And sadly they don’t. This is rough. You want to help them, but they are chasing a feeling much like an addict will chase a drug. And when you will not give them that drug or if in their opinion you are some how amazingly responsible for their not getting the drug, they will attack you. It happens all the time. The stalker situation in the film industry is horrific. It often simply taking form of using the internet to cause someone harm, much like cyber-bullying. They will take a small truth and make it big, they will make up stuff and they are simply desperate fools. And there is almost never anything you can do about it. They are bullies. You will find them in your projects, in your meetings. People their for their own purposes. When it happens you move on.
The team members of Continuum Pictures have been through it all, enough to fill a novel. Somehow we have always gotten through by just focusing on the movie. When we are distracted by people, one of us will always say, does that get the movie done or out. That brings us to our senses. Making movies is work. Getting the deal is work. Film is hard. If it were easy then everyone would do it.
I can only hope each week as I face the problems in front of us, that I keep it about the movie.
– James Duval –
Continuum Pictures Studios