Dreams, Aspirations and Reality
I’ve studied film and television of my own accord for nearly 20 years but only in the last year have I been actively pursuing the medium. I don’t know what the journey holds for me. I only know it’s mine to pursue. No one will ever have the same experiences, path, sadness, heartache, joy, happiness that I will. We all experience our one life differently.
As I reflect on the last two and a half years of principle photography for Fly High: Story of the Disc Dog, I’m truly baffled. I have 2 interviews remaining; my own story and that of one of our great, long-time showman. It’s hard to believe I’m at this point, honestly.
For many of the last 5 years I’ve been working on the project, I wanted it to succeed but realistically expected it to fail, and miserably. That isn’t to sound pessimistic. It’s simply a general awareness of the risk involved, especially with very little financial backing, only a handful of crew members and given the story itself. Let’s face it, it’s a very niche subject but I knew that going in. I analyzed everything that could stand in my way. Some things I expected. Others I did not. To say I wasn’t frightened, hell, terrified, would be lying to myself and others. The fear of failing miserably as a filmmaker in my first feature-length documentary is immense but it hasn’t stopped me.
I believe in what I’m doing and believe it has merit. At the end of it all, what matters is that I did it and that I did it to the best of my abilities with the resources I have available to me. It won’t be the most cinematic film I ever produce. I don’t have the crew or gear to do that on this project but the story is there. Ultimately, that is the most important thing.
I’ve focused primarily on getting quality audio and telling the story. I threw out the notion that I would have these great, cinematic images a while back, not for not wanting to have those but for choosing quality story over imagery.
I won’t hide the fact this has been the most difficult project I’ve taken on to date but it has also been the most rewarding. I’ve traveled the country, met an incredible amount of people I wouldn’t have otherwise and learned so much about a sport I’ve spent the last eight years of my life attempting to be great in.
As I head into post production, I have begun to turn my focus to the film festival circuit. From the moment I began principle photography, I knew I would pursue festivals. I imagine some of my demographic won’t be too thrilled with that as it will further delay an already two-year-late film but if I don’t shoot for the stars, I will regret it. I know I will. Now is the time to prepare a plan for those pursuits and to finalize the film before submission.
There’s a damn good chance I’ll fall flat on my face in the festival circuit. When I say festival circuit, I’m aiming at festivals like Sundance, Tribeca, SXSW, Austin, Phoenix, etc. And why not? Because I shot my film on a DSLR? Because I’m not experienced? Or, gasp, because I’m a woman????? (Yeah, WTF?) If you believe I shouldn’t because of that last part, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
There’s a strong possibility that I won’t make it into any film festival. Some may wonder if that scares me. What about the cost? Festival entries aren’t cheap for indie filmmakers. In short, no, it doesn’t scare me. Yes, it will add up. It will be expensive. I can’t, however, reasonably justify not submitting to these festivals after all this time, effort, blood, sweat, tears and travel. I owe the film at least the chance and realistically, it has as good a chance at making it as any of the other 10,000+ films submitted to Sundance each year.
Living in fear of failure is something I cannot grasp. Certain fears are understandable; being afraid of being mugged, robbed, stabbed, shot or else while going for groceries. Yeah, those are legitimate fears. The fear of failing is not.
Suppose I do fail. I don’t make it into any festivals. I don’t break even on the thousands I’ve spent of my own money and don’t break even on the funds I raised from those who believed in the film. Does that now define me? I say “nay.” If that comes to pass, I evaluate where things went wrong, research how to do it right in the future and I keep chasing.
This is what I’m meant to do. I’ve been a performer. I’ve been a producer. I’m supposed to be in the entertainment industry. I’ve known it since I was a teenager. That isn’t to say I’m entitled to any of it. I’m not. I have and will continue to work hard to get where I want to be. It doesn’t come easy. If someone hands it to you, you won’t value it. If you earn it, you will protect it. You will cherish it. It will be yours.
I don’t know where the crazy journey will take me. I don’t know what a year from now holds. I don’t want to know. If I knew each step to take, each path to cross, every twist and turn, it would be incredibly mundane and I don’t do mundane. I may never make it beyond the indie scene. I may never be a crew member for a Ghostbusters 2 remake.
Yes, that is a real goal but by all means, laugh at the silliness. Paul Feig, call me.
From here, it’s all up in the air. I could fall flat or fly high (pun intended). I control my pursuits. The rest is up to the universe.