Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 1

The last of the projects I've been working on over the last three years fell through yesterday. I guess it was a long time coming really, I just finally accept defeat. So everything has come up empty, a ton of shorts, TV show ideas, feature film scripts. I still have Derelict on the way of course. But nothing for the future. I had two main projects I had hoped to continue with, Iscariot, which I was working on with my old writing partner, Thomas Kennedy, but after three years of writing endless treatments and beat sheets and going around in dizzying circles to the point where we had no idea what we were writing anymore, we realised that it was going nowhere and so stopped.

The main project, which fell through yesterday, was a book by one of my favourite authors. The opportunity came up to buy the film option, so I went for it with gusto and very nearly had it. But it just proved to be too much money at the wrong time. I was loathed to let it go, but I had no choice. So, for the first time since I started trying to make films I have a clean slate. I'm at square one again.

I must admit I've been feeling pretty low about it the last couple of weeks. I'm sure if you read my rant below you'll know it began with a great deal of anger and resentment. Then came despondency and the feeling that I wanted to quit. But I knew I wouldn't. I have decided not to keep trying in Ireland. It's just proven futile. It's a small place and it seems all positions have been filled. But that's OK. I'm hoping to move soon anyway. Yesterday I felt pretty miserable. Writing the email to the author was hard. I had been working on the project for almost a year, and even though I didn't have the rights, I was reading the book over and over, making notes, making plans, drafting in people, researching, and all the things you do at the start of a project.

I could have gone through with it, if I could have had a guarantee of development funding from somewhere. The Film Board expressed an interest and encouraged me to apply, saying they like to reward this kind of effort, but they have proved that they can't be relied upon. I just couldn't trust them enough to take the risk and I wasn't sure where else that kind of money would come from. A friend of mine, long in the film industry, said an interesting thing to me after the IFB rejected Derelict, "It doesn't take much to encourage", it's true, had they even given me one fifth of the small amount I was asking for I'd be in a very different frame of mind, and situation, right now. But there you have it, nothing to be done.

So, I hit send and sunk into a deep depression... well, that is to say, I moped around for the rest of the day! My wife was very nice to me, cooked a nice meal, bought me some nice beer, said I could watch whatever I wanted on TV, bathed our daughter and put her to bed, all while I was moping around down stairs. I watched Grand Designs, it was one I hadn't seen before, so that cheered me up and I went to bed in better form. A thought had started to form.

Then this morning I woke up to a lovely email from the author, understanding and encouraging, as ever, as he has been through this entire process. He has always had my back, which was lovely coming from someone I admire so much. I felt the somber mood lift quite quickly then and I was left with the realisation that - I'm free. I am no longer tied to anything. For the first time since I sat out to make films ten years ago I have a clean slate. I can go make whatever the hell I want.

So this is Day 1.

From here on out I'm starting anew. The last ten years has been film school. I'm walking out the front gates a graduate of life lessons. Derelict was my theses film and now I'm starting my career proper. No more bullshit. No more relying on other people. If  I've learned one thing over the past decade it's that, you can only rely on yourself. People just get in the way, stall and stop you. So I'm going it alone, I'm producing my own stuff, as I always have, but most definitely and defiantly from now on. I think what's held me back in the past is my reliance on other people, or the thought that I needed other people to open certain doors for me. I've proven, to myself, I don't need other people. I can open my own doors.

So I'm feeling good about it. Excited. I feel like I did when I started, like anything was possible and no one was going to stop me. Of course, back then, I was green, I needed help and so asked the wrong people and allowed them to stop me. No more. I have ten years experience. I have six films under my belt. And I know a little bit more about the world.


Metaphorest said...

Such a rollercoaster this business eh? Constantly stopping and starting and reappraising and getting your hopes up and having them crushed. And just when you think you know a bit about how it all works, something happens to show that you're still mostly grappling in the dark. So, yep, it's no easy ride, but still beats the old 9 to 5 soulless predictable slog by about a million to one :)
I can understand the temptation of not wanting to rely on anyone to avoid potential disappointment - but I don't think it's entirely possible to make films without reaching out at least some way - you just get better at knowing who to trust, how much to invest in them and how much to expect in return I think. But yep doing it your way is the only way to enjoy the process. It's easy to get caught up and forget that. I do it all the time. :) So well done for re-focussing and turning what felt like a kick in the buts into a positive! :)
Best of luck with your clean slate - the best work always comes when it's simply just what you want to do and say - without all those other pressures. And I bet new and better opportunities will open up because of it!

Frank Kelly said...

Thanks Sarah.