Monday, March 29, 2010

Adventures in Filmmaking: Back to the Drawing Board?


It's been only a week since I was hit by filmmaking inspiration while walking around in New York on a lovely Saturday, and already I feel like I've made some progress in the process.

Not that you'd know it by the actual physical results so far.

I still have no script to speak of; all I have, as of today, is a treatment that I quickly wrote up in the heat of that inspiration. And even that treatment is about to be trashed, with my original idea in the midst of transformation.

What brought this change about? Basically, the change came about because of comments made by one friend of mine who recently went to the New York Film Academy and told me, explicitly and directly, that the idea I pitched to him was pretty much the same idea he has seen "manymanymanymanymany" other students try to shoot as a short film of theirs. This disappointed me at first—but, as others reminded me later, a lot of times in art, it's what you do with an idea that can be more important than whether the idea itself is breathtakingly original.

This friend made another suggestion, one which also rubbed me the wrong way at the time: he suggested that I simply throw out the downbeat ending I had originally envisioned and turn it into an upbeat one. My friend is perhaps more naturally optimistic and joyful than I am, so at first I chalked this up to simply a clash of worldviews. But then I started to do some minor soul-searching: Does the kind of downbeat ending I had thought of in the first place truly express my own worldview? Does it feel honest and personal, or is it just a pose of some sort—negativity in place of hard truth? I don't consider myself what most people might think of as "happy-go-lucky," by any means (and I know how to drive a car—nudge nudge wink wink, Mike Leigh fans), but I certainly don't think I'm so depressive a personality that I'll wallow in so much sadness that it crowds out the moments of happiness I feel, say, at a film screening upon seeing something great passing through my field of vision. My moods tend to swing pretty wildly, but in the long run, I think I'm a fairly positive person. Maybe it would be more interesting to make a film that genuinely reflected what I see as the way despair and ecstasy can bunch up against each other—because, as I perceive it, that's life.

So I guess you could say, I've more or less gone back to the drawing board on this film project. I may simply revise my original treatment or just throw it out altogether and come up with a new one. In any case, I don't take this as a setback, by any means. Surely revision or plain rewriting is a part of any creative writing process. And since I'm not bound by any deadlines, I'm taking this new development in stride and proceeding accordingly.

Thus, my first week.

No comments: