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Blog Posts

Why I Make Movies

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So, you make films?

Why?

I mean, what do you enjoy more? The red carpet, or being on set at 4 in the morning when everyone's exhausted?

I ask, because it's important

If you're not there for the right reasons you'll either not make it, or you'll make it and drive everyone around you crazy. Are you there to say something? Or are you there because you need the attention? Because the world needs more people who have something to say, and less grandstanders looking for love from strangers.

A month and a half ago I was directing a horror TV series for MTV with a hundred plus people on the crew, millions of dollars being spent and all the most advanced film gear and lighting I could eat. I was happy as a pig in shit, as my grandpa used to say. One night of shooting involved a mob of zombies, another - a gunfight with vampires. It wasn't cheap, is what I'm saying. It was studio spectacle in all its glory and I had a great time playing with what Orson Welles once called the most expensive toy train set in history.

Cut to this week. I'm doing ADR on one of my shorts in the back room of a warehouse, surrounded by boxes of vending machine snacks. Why? Because my friend has a warehouse full of boxes that mutes the sound beautifully, and it saves us from spending money on a sound room for our short films. And so I go from having a big budget to having no budget at all, and I'm fine with that, because, for me anyway,  it's not the trappings, it's the craft of doing - of creating, no matter what the budget.

I joke sometimes that I write and direct films for a living, and then, to wind down and get away from it all, I write and direct films for fun. You get the picture. I imagine if you took a power hose to me, and washed away all my flesh, all that would remain would be a skeleton of film cans and digital video cassettes.

So while I wait on feedback for my latest script job (that's paying the bills), I'm also wrapping up a short film I started last fall (but which was interrupted when I got hired to direct the TV series). So now I'm making time to wrap up my newest horror short. It's called SPOON and it stars FEARnet's own Christa Campbell as well as brilliant actor and genre favorite Ezra Buzzington. And my dear friend and spfx guru Jeff Farley's doing the make up effects and producing it with Rob G and myself. It's a ghost story about an abused woman but since the whole thing is only 4 minutes long, if I tell you any more I'll inevitably spoil it, so you'll just have to wait til I launch it online in the next few weeks. Christa, Ezra, Jeff, Rob... they're the same way. When it comes to film, we're addicted to "creating" and if it's good, it doesn't matter what the budget is, or even if there is a budget. That's what the indie spirit is all about.

But anyway, the reason I mention the TV series and the short film, and my desire and ability to vacillate between the two - between having a budget that supports condors, Red cameras and hundreds of people, and indie shorts with barely enough budget to cover pizza and drinks for the cast and crew - is because I love cinema. I love watching it. I love talking about it, I love writing about it, and most of all I love making it. And so does my cast. And my crew. We're friends. We've become family. And we're the kind of people that studio heads and slick money assholes find amusing. We're dumb enough to do it because we love it. We do it for the craft. For the art. We do it because we have something to say.

And when the money folks ask me how I'm making money on my shorts, They're missing the point of the short film. And I tell them - on the short films? I'm not making money on the short films. But that's not the goal of the shorts. The goal of the shorts is pure artistic creation. Asking me and my team how we're making money on the short films is like asking someone how much money they made hugging their kids? How much money did you make on that camping trip, that hike, that road trip you took? How much did you make when you went out to dinner with your friends?

Nothing, that's how much. Because when you're creating art, you're not doing it for the money. You're paid in contentment of authorship.

See? It's like that for us.

Don't get me wrong. We're not altruist monks living in caves. My team and I are all professionals working in the industry. And when we're being paid, it's commerce. It's artistic commerce, but it's commerce. And when we're not getting paid, it's art. Pure, unadulterated art. We answer to no greater god and what we make is what we breathe life into, period. Good or bad, it is the product of our sweat and tears. The joy and reward is in the creation of good craftsmanship.  In being able to say "I made that," and having people watch it and react as we'd hoped. In saying something. In showing something new. In creating a new world.

That's why I do what I do.

Why do you?

Gaudium per atrox.

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