Friday, March 21, 2014
The Final Thread
When Crowdfunding blew up with Kickstarter back in 2009 I got very excited, I thought, Finally! A way to make my films. And I became truly inspired very quickly. 140 came out of that. Without Kickstarter and this new doorway, 140 wouldn't have happened. So, 140 became on of the early kickstarter project, back when it was small, back when the 5 people working there would drop me a line, and would make it project of the week. Now look at kickstarter, it just hit $1billion in pledges!!! Incredible. But what happens then is you feel a little left behind, a little small and for the last couple of years, especially after making Derelict and it not doing very well, I've felt very despondent and cast adrift as a filmmaker, storyteller and artist. It's made me wonder if I have anything worthwhile to say or anything good to add to the world.
I can't tell you the amount of times over the past two years I've sat down and recorded a kickstarter pledge video for one project or another. Sometimes it's something brand new that I'm really excited about, other times it's older favourite projects I've been carrying with me. I recorded a video two days ago in fact, but like all the other's, I deleted it right after. I've lost faith in myself. That just the truth of it. I don't know how to make films anymore. Which is why I haven't made one in a couple of years. I don't know that I ever did know, but I had enough belief in myself, enough tenacity and enough 'movie fan' in me to push through the doubt and get something done.
These days I see a lot of the people who were involved in 140, some first time filmmakers at the time, go on and do great things, far surpass me in their pursuit of a career in film. And yes, there is a little bit of jealousy there, I wont lie! But can you blame me?! I've been harbouring this hunger since I was nine years old and as others with less experience succeed and I continue to fail, it's a hard pill to swallow. BUT, at the end of the day, I'm truly excited for these people and I wish them only the best, which is why you'll always see me excited about their kickstarter projects and posting about them.
The flip side of Kickstarter became the deluge of people trying to get funding, and like many of you I'm sure you find your facebook feed filled with people asking for support, and after a while it just becomes noise, you don't know where to look. For a while I wondered if crowdfunding has lost it's value, and that excitement it began with, and has just become an annoyance to be ignored. I thought that for a while. I thought crowdfunding was dead. It wouldn't last. And again, when recording those videos that thought, along with the doubt, popped into my head and I just didn't see a point. Plus the fact that you get critics, I remember being stopped in a line at the post office by a friend, who asked me what I was thinking by putting up a crowdfunding drive for a film right before christmas! I've been called a beggar in my local newspaper! It all goes in and only serves to stop me doing what it is I want to do.
But the thing is patronage has been around as long as art has. Would the Sistine Chapel exist without a patron? And crowdfunding has existed for a long time, as Yancey Strickler, CEO of Kickstarter, says in this video, Alexander Pope crowdfunded the translation of The Iliad into English! So I do think it's valid and I don't see it as begging. It's on Opt-In opportunity to support. And the people that give to these project, aren't grumpy arseholes who just like to gripe, they're passionate supporters of the arts who want to see good people do good things and contribute to a better form of art.
What's sad is, a lot of the people I see gripe about crowdfunding are exactly the type of people who could benefit from it, people who've struggled to get their work made, who, like me, have faced rejection after rejection from the likes of the Irish Film Board, and others, and who have been criticized for just wanting to create film, or art. We live in a society of contradictions, it's not acceptable to build a career in any art form, you have to GET A JAWB, get health insurance, buy a min-van and drive the kids to soccer practice, to FIT IN. But at the same time, these philistines demand entertainment. WHO DO YOU THINK MAKES THIS STUFF??? Elves?!
I'm going off on a bit of a tangent. But it's all this stuff that's stopped me from making films. Admittedly I've had a hectic year, new baby, immigrating, but even since landing here, a place where dreams are suppose to happen, the land of hope and opportunity, I've felt less hopefully and seen less opportunity than ever to continue making films. And again, just like two days ago, when I feel that urge, that bright spark lighting the darkness, the birth of an idea, that before would grow into a film, it is now instantly extinguished.
I wrote a little blog about wanting to make a western a few weeks ago, right after I hit publish my very next thought was "never gonna happen!" - i mean how the hell am I going to make a western?! Where the fuck is that money going to come from? How am I going to get to a place where I can make a western? What about the practicalities? The kids? The rent? The Bills? Where are we going to live and how am I going to pay for all that while I'm off gallivanting in the desert?! So, end result, give up on that idea. And these days, that's how they all play.
So, I don't know what the answer is. I was once at the forefront of this movement, now I'm lost in the dust. I'm not sure what I'll see when the dust settles. But I feel like it will be a baron land of half build houses amid the ruins of others. That's how I see my career in film, so-called career, one that never really became a career. Now, I know you'll just think I'm moping and depressed and I'm sure you're groaning and thinking "Whatever, get over it," but this is just what's in my head, and what's been in my head for the last two years. So lump it. This blog is about a filmmakers journey, this is where I find myself right now.
Conclusion, I don't have one. Keep working as the night shift in a warehouse. Paying the bills. Getting health insurance. I guess it's how most people live. I guess for some of us, dreams stay dreams until one day you just don't dream anymore. For now though, there's a enough of a shred of hope that keeps me thinking that wont happen, but I'm waiting for the 'ping', the sound of that final thread snapping. Before there was always a way to make a film, right now, I can't see one.
I still have ideas, while in Indianapolis I had an idea about a documentary about the town, from an outsiders point of view, about discovering it from various view points. I want to make another film, a have a story for another crime thriller called '6 Past The hour', Maryann and I talked about writing a TV script based on our immigration, we still mention the Irish Film Society of Indiana from time to time though less and less, and I'd still like to look at doing a community based filmmakers group and mentorship programme for young filmmaker, perhaps a cross atlantic exchange programme with Ireland and specifically Drogheda... so you see, the ideas are still there... but they're behind a giant wall and I don't know how to get them out anymore.