Staying Afloat | Fish
This is a note about what I learned working on Fish
We passed around a 35mm Film camera of set to document the adventures of "fish."
Fish is a story I wrote. It's a story that's silly, and awkward, and says a lot about me and what kind of artist I'm striving to be. It's a story I'm very close to and worked really hard to share it with others.
So I gathered 17 people, assembled a film crew, funded most of it on Kickstarter, learned a bunch, and made the film.
I'd tell you more about it, but if your eyes wander upward, there's a whole tab dedicated to it(:
I decided to direct and produce it as well. Which now in retrospect, I realize it was a lot for one person. And one of the biggest lessons I've learned from this process is that you probably shouldn't do all three. Producing in itself is a major time consuming task. And if you're a worrisome perfectionist like me, it doesn't make you feel at ease for months.
Now that the film is shot, I should feel a little calm. And I do, and I don't. Truth is, I won't feel fully satisfied until it's done and ready to be shared to the world, and film festivals.
It's in the editing room now being priced together. And that might take a while, so I have to be patient. It's funny that people sometimes forget how much of another world editing is. So much happens. It's like fitting together at 1,000 piece puzzle. It's all there, its' just a matter of getting all of these factors to fit, and making sense of it all. I'm still currently learning this, and I'm lucky I have a great editor to help me understand that.
There's no better way to explain these lessons, so here's a list. If you're considering becoming a filmmaker, or just want to understand how much time and energy goes into film that you only might even come across once, please do read this.
Be sure of it.
You have to believe in your project. You created it. Live and die for it, it is your baby. No matter what happens, how many bad things go wrong, how much you can and cannot control, this is your thing and you cannot give up on it. It is yours, so run with it until you're beat up and burnt out. Because not everyone's gonna win that race.
For me, I took a lot of punches for this film. From locations dropping, to accidents, to technical malfunctions, there was a lot of negative events that I had to deal with. Unfortunate circumstances, but I did not give up just because those happened. After each mal-event; I thought.. well okay, this sucks...but I still want this film to be made, so I have to figure it out. There's always a way. So "just keep swimming," even if you feel like you're drowning—you have to find a way to breathe again. And as a producer, it's your job to keep you, the project, and everyone else afloat and happy.
It's never too early to start. While I started in December for a film we scheduled to shoot in April, it looks like plenty of time. But even then, lots of things happened the month of April due to availability of other people. But just know that if you want it to be good, and you want the best to turn out, then start as early as possible. Especially if you're applying for city permits.
This might seem silly, but, back everything up. Right after it's shot. Double check, triple back. The last thing you want it to see a day's worth of work by 17 hands vanish in an instant because of technology malfunctions. This goes for Camera AND sound. And above that, have back up plans for everything. You know how in the theatre, actors have understudies? Same should go for film. Have a 2nd location to go to if your first doesn't work out. Have a 2nd PA incase your first one gets injured. Have doubles of all your props incase something breaks. (Many lessons here).
Murphy's Law; bad things will happen.
It's inevitable. You can prepare as much as you want, but sometimes a sudden storm that wasn't on the radar will hit—and that's something you have to deal with as it comes. Just be ready to brace that storm. And don't give up just because it got 10 times tougher on a moment's notice. Part of being a good filmmaker overall is the willpower to figure it out, no matter the circumstance, You have to be up for it. Be resilient, be positive.
Man, I didn't mean for this post to be so negative...eeep. I hope this is helpful...
I'm not sure if I want to share this, but I'll tell you a secret. My next project, I will hand over for someone else to direct. I had interviewed and considered getting a director for Fish before I decided that I was the one that had to tell this specific story. I wanted to give it a shot, and I did. And after this experience, I'm deciding to give another person the opportunity for future projects. Because I find that my happiness and energy goes more into the writing of films and producing for films. It's a personal choice that I don't expect everyone to understand, but the best way to explain it is like this; Directors will click with directing. I click more with Producing and writing.
Everyone is important.
If you're lucky enough to have a crew, great. If you have a great crew, you are blessed. Luckily I was, and I'm glad I assembled this team from the ground up. It's important to have people that are excited about the project, and that are willing to work with you—even when it's for free. See, you're all in the same pool; trying to make it. This can of worms that you opened, is eventually going to be on everyone's resume and portfolio, so make it worth it.
Treat everyone fairly, feed and take care of your crew. They're doing you a huge favor. And everyone you've called on set to work with you is there to make this difficult process just a little easier. Value that and don't forget it. Time is value, and the fact that all of these people are dedicating their time to this, is super super important. But don't forget to have fun and make your memories, because damn—they make great stories at parties.
Simple as that.
There's a lot I want to say about filmmaking, as I'm learning about it, and constantly growing and doing things; making mistakes and learning from them. I might start a little video series about that. What's that? To be continued? Oh, yes.
So Fish, you were quite the big little thing to reel in. You taught me a whole lot. And I haven't even scratched the surface, but we will see in due time. It's something I love, worry about, cherish, and am so thankful for, and the list goes on.
Stay tuned, coming to an ocean near you.