It is a process
I talk a lot about the plight that is documentary filmmaking, not for the sake of complaining, but for understanding. When I birthed the concept for creating a documentary about the sport of canine disc, it was meant to be simple. It was never meant to take 4+ years, thousands upon thousands of dollars raised and spent, and thousands of miles traveled across the United States. It was meant to be simple. It was meant to capture the essence of the sport. That is, until the ball started rolling.
What a lot of folks don’t realize is I sat on the idea for nearly a year if not more wondering if it was even worth it. I knew there would be times of frustration simply because there was no way I could dedicate all my time to the project and maintain a full time job along with training and competing with both dogs. As they say, life happens. This is an unfortunate side effect of filmmaking. As badly as I want to jump in fully to any film I am a part of, life demands more. Because, you know, apparently money is important or whatever.
There were several reasons I kept the project under wraps. The biggest being, I was afraid someone was going to steal off with my idea and beat me to the punch. That is, until I ran the numbers. Early on in the process I ran two cost estimate reports to fully understand the scope of what I wanted and what I was getting into.
My first estimate was based on the concept of hiring a modest crew for varying roles; from production to edit. Early estimates predicted a cost of nearly a quarter of a million dollars. If you’ve ever been involved or around anyone who has competed in canine flying disc, you understand that sort of money isn’t there.
So I broke down the estimate by what I bring to the table. I’ve been a professional graphic and web designer for over 10 years now and prior to my current employment, I’ve only created video as a hobby. When I began the project, I was still green, in my opinion, never having done any commercial work aside from one local non-profit commercial that ran on public access. But I understood the process and I could predict most of the hurdles I would face, so I thought.
I could draw decent enough to create storyboards should they be necessary. They have been. I understood pre-production enough to get a plan together in the form of a treatment. I did that, although, that has long since been tossed in the wind. I could write, film, edit, brand and market the film as those items became necessary. I cut a quarter million dollar project down to a mere $20,000 project with hopes of cutting it further. This brought the project to more feasibility. I could make it happen for that number. It would simply take longer than I had envisioned.
I ran two unsuccessful crowdfunding campaigns. It wasn’t for lack of effort. I researched successful campaigns. I reached out for advice and followed what I was given. It got back to the demographic and the financial health of the sport. I knew the money wouldn’t be there and I was ok with that. I will, however, never forget the crossroads I faced following those two campaigns.
I was driving home from South Carolina where the dogs and I had been to visit a friend. It had been on my mind all weekend as my second fundraising effort came to yet another unsuccessful close. I had merely a quarter of the funds I needed raised, at that time. I knew I would later need more, but it was just enough to get through part of my interviews as I needed to travel west. I had no idea how I would accomplish what I was trying to with the production value I wanted to give it. It was a test of spirit and one of those life-changing crossroads we often find ourselves facing. Do I commit to this project until its done even if it takes me another 10 years? Or do I return all the money and sweep it under the rug and move on? It quickly turned into a test of character, and I assure you, it hasn’t been an easy test. Did I have what it takes being up against such staggering odds of failure?
Obviously I committed but it hasn’t been without trepidation along the way and I predict more leading to release. I’m still fearful. I still stay awake wondering when it will all fall into place. I moved into a new house a few months ago. I’m still trying to set up my studio. I’m still trying to stay competitive, training both dogs and somewhere in the mix, bring the film together. I have no idea how long it will take. I have no idea how many more sleepless nights I will have. Its a part of this crazy journey I’m on. Sometimes I love it. Sometimes I hate it. But I journey forth knowing it will all fall into place as it should. This is what passion is.
To be continued…