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You the Filmmaker, and the Personal Life You Don’t Have Time For

February 11, 2013

The blog is back. After a busy semester where it has to stay in remission, I finally have some time to pursue the continued observation and analysis of the film industry.

But before we get back to hard data, seeing how the world is effecting the industry, and other such exploits, the first blog entry on my return back will be personal one, about the filmmaker’s personal life.

———-

I stumbled away from Sundance. There were a couple of memories that stood out to me. I’ll get to the bad first. The frigid cold, the sharing a bed with another film student guy I didn’t know, not having hot water in the shower, and no internet were the bad memories deeply lodged into my mind. It was a personal trial as much as pleasure.

The good. I had the wonderful opportunity of seeing the Fruitvale team just do incredible things, winning the Jury and Audience awards. Many of them were classmates of mine, 1-2 years ahead of me at USC. It was possible to walk out as a USC student and do great things. No pressure.

In my three years in Los Angeles and at USC, I have been working on films around the clock. My goal while there was to excel at production as a Producer. That would be my niche, knowing how the machine worked from top to bottom. Also I would learn and have strong relationships at USC with my professors and classmates, excel in the USC sphere as a person, and develop relationships with people outside the school such as in the law and business schools. And I largely accomplished those goals. I became President of the Graduate Council, USC’s First Look Producer of the Year, and I probably produced the most thesis films ever according to my mentor John Watson. I think that last part is debatable but I’m in the discussion. But as one buddy of mine who is already making things happen in the real world said, “No one cares what you did at USC”. I disagree as every accomplishment you do matters, especially when it is at USC. But after going to Sundance I also agree.

My classes at USC were finally finished. So the rocket is ready to launch. I have internships I have taken, people in the industry I can talk to, and I have a commercial company on the side and a few features in development. I feel good, and the doubts I have are nothing out of the ordinary. But none of that matters if my foundation in order.

Here is what I mean by this. Life is like a building and you need to have the right foundation and I’ve been working on the right angles, horizontals, and perpendiculars of that blueprint, so to speak. Getting things in order, working on my car, doing some training, getting my websites for me and my company up and running, getting the Caritas website Paul and I have been working on created to make some money on the side, watching movies people have hammered in to me to watch, reading books and scripts, doing some public speaking, joining a sports team to stay in shape, etc. etc. Things I have never been able to do because I never had the time.

But it’s not been easy. My drive to create and chase after my career has been pushed to the side to get everything in order. But I keep reminding myself that you can’t take meetings if your car breaks fail. You need to make sure you’re physically in great shape so you feel good at pitch meetings. You need to read to inform your writing. You have to lay all these into your foundations to be able to launch off. Short films, while creating a foundation of this own, don’t have all the answers.

I was having lunch with my buddies James Jou, Kyle Fredrick, and Scott Hardie and we were all talking about how hard it was to get our personal life in order. Kyle was working for a couple of older producers, James was watching four movies a day, Scott was about to fly to China to film a major part of his doc he was working on. They all felt that they had things they wanted to do to build themselves up character-wise and proficiency wise, but time was short and much of it was being pushed to the side. Except for James, who is watching four movies a day. Welcome to life in thesis for a USC film student.

A mentor and friend of mine, Producer Gail Katz, said to me I need to keep having life experiences. So I decided to Europe, Israel/Palestine for 42 days this summer. I even asked Brenda Goodman the same thing and her response was to not be worried about what you’re missing. If you’re good you’ll keep getting hired. So I went. And I learned something, but not what you think. While it was semi-great, it did help me at the very least gain legitimacy. Visiting Greece during their last election has made other people put more weight into my views. The same for Israel/Palestine. Even though I felt I learned a lot, I didn’t feel like I experienced up to my usual standards. However, I had experienced more then 99% of Americans and people around the world with some of these trips I had been taking. It’s not just learning a lot, it’s what you know in comparison to others and what comes with that. As someone who was out there, I gained that legitimacy. If you are a filmmaker and you read this, you know many people out there, whose power and statue come from the fact they have the legitimacy of something over others. They made more movies, or have certain experiences, or know something or even have the illusion of all those things. That legitimacy is gives you the ability to assert your influence and execute your goals as a filmmaker.

Also you have to learn how you carry yourself and how you treat people around you. Obviously we all know how this works we’re adults. But there is an advanced level of it that applies just to the film industry and how that should go be treated. To take time to read the literature of people who have been through this before and knows how it goes it a major part of this process. Too many of us just jump in without planning on how to jump in.

This is a touch rambling but I’m working off the rust as get back in action.

So in conclusion…take some time away from film. We tend to always be so focused on our work, but it’s everything that we do is part of our work.

So welcome back to my blog, I look forward to following up on some previous things I was looking to cover and how the film industry is evolving and existing in the world around us.

-S

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