I'm working towards making my first feature film.
At the moment I'm woefully unprepared, but I have a plan and everything that I'm doing now is a part of that plan. I'm shooting and cutting and writing and learning non-stop; I thought it would be good to have a place where I organize my thoughts and write down everything I learned from that week before. That's what this is...or will be. A little accountability, a little self criticism, a little education, and an open door for anyone that wants to come along for the ride.
The first thing I've been doing lately is trying to up my social media game. I've been posting to Instagram every day and working on developing a YouTube page. I'm not doing this because I'm a big fan of social media, but it's a structured way to keep me creating. I'm actually enjoying getting over some of my more curmudgeon-y tendencies and engaging with people. That's all a part of step one; ALWAYS BE CREATING! I'm trying to make sure that I only put out content that I'm happy with as well...I have a tendency to rush things out before they're ready because I get excited to share them. I put out an especially mediocre post on Sunday with some sloppily placed light leaks as transitions. It wasn't terrible, but it could have been a lot better than it was if I had spent just a touch more time on it.
This past week the Criterion Channel's Movie of the Week was Barbara Loden's Wanda. It was great and started a (sort of) unintentional weekend of films about (and mostly by) women. I watched Wanda on Friday, Tully on Saturday, and Oceans Eight on Sunday. I have a two year old son, so Tully really got me. I feel like you see a lot of films about men becoming dads, but I'd be hard pressed to find another film that does such a great job of depicting a (sort of) realistic version of motherhood. I liked Oceans Eight. It was silly and fun and very Hollywood.
My wife and I also filmed a short this weekend! It felt good to get back to filming some dialogue and really creating a story, even if it's only a minute long. We started doing these shorts back when I was first learning about filmmaking. I want to start them back up again because I feel like they're great, quick ways to keep my skills in check, make something light and funny, and work on things in which I need a bit more practice.
And that's it. I'm not sure what this will turn into. Whether it will become more organized, or a bit more "written," or even more stream of conscious. But that's another thing I'm learning to be okay with...letting myself discover what things are instead of trying to force them into being something. I'll see you next week.
To Sleep with Anger
Written and Directed by Charles Burnett
Cinematography by Walt Loyd
Watched on the Criterion Channel (Movie of the Week)
I'm a big film fan, but I'll be the first to admit there are some gaping blind spots in my cinema knowledge, that's why I signed up to be a charter member of the Criterion Channel as soon as I possibly could. They launch April 8th, but until then they're releasing a Movie of the Week and this weeks film was Charles Burnett's "To Sleep with Anger." Here's a few things I learned...
I'm ashamed to admit that I had never heard of Charles Burnett before this film (discovering "new" filmmakers like him is one of the many reasons I'm so excited for Criterion Channel to launch). "To Sleep with Anger" is a thoughtful and poetic family drama, with some great performances and a whole lot of imagery to chew on, but I was even more pleased to find (from watching the special features) that Mr. Burnett is just as thoughtful, insightful and mild mannered. You see so many "big personalities" in the film business, I always find it refreshing when I come across a writer or director that has the passion, but also seems down to Earth. It makes me think that there just might be a place for me in this business. Anyway, I'm glad to have finally discovered him and I'm anxious to check out the rest of his body of work.
Okay...I didn't learn about diversity and representation from this film, but I do think this film stands as a big, bright, shining example of why those things are so necessary. The specificity in which Burnett weaves his tale could only come from him and yet there's a universality to it all. I think art can be a lot of things, but one of my favorite is when an artist is wrestling with big ideas with which they might not have all the answers. A film like that is a gateway to perspective, empathy, and understanding and it's essential that those narratives come from a diverse and eclectic group of people (even more essential for someone like me to see them!). Besides, it's just refreshing! And different! And interesting! That's what we all want in a movie-watching experience, isn't it?