What’s in a story?

I have been hitting the editing pretty hard these last few weeks, maybe a little harder than I should.  Between the stack of hard drives to my left and the server to my right, I would say that if megabytes were Big Macs, I could feed the entire country for a year.  The amount of footage is irrelevant though.  The story that is emerging is what’s important.

On these long days that consistently drift into even longer nights of editing, I’ve found myself pondering the idea of a story.  What is it about a story that makes us so attracted to it?  There are so many exciting things happening every second of our lives, but every now and then, we choose to tune it all out and tune into a story.  Whether it’s a book, a film, or someone telling it to us, a story has the power to show an aspect of life that often goes unnoticed.  A story conveys truth.
At the root of every story is truth; the truth of human experience, the truth of emotion, the truth of life.  This is what brings us back, time and time again.  Life can be overwhelming, and as a result, one can become numb to the everyday experience.  Stories are where we run to replenish our soul of human experience.   This is what makes the “story” one of the greatest tools ever utilized by humans.  Even something as powerful as fire or electricity can’t reach the level that a story can.  Fire, electricity, and steel are all tools of a physical world.  A story is a tool of the mind.  As powerful as these energy producing machines that I have been studying are, they can’t do what a story does.

So as I sit here in front of the video footage of the last six months of my life, I am wondering what my story will be.   A director has a unique responsibility.  It’s the responsibility of creating a story for the world to experience, creating something for people to believe in.  It’s the responsibility of creating truth.

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It’s not work

If you’ve ever wondered what the mind behind Burning Torch Productions thinks, this is for you.

With Energy! O Energy! in production and more projects on the burner, I’ve been working more hours per day than I care to keep track of.  When you’re self-employed, keeping track of your hours is depressing.  When it’s all said and done, the film is only about 90 minutes long, but the hours leading up to its completion will easily exceed 3000 hours.   Is it worth it?  Absolutely.  Do you think I’m crazy?  I don’t blame you.  Let’s look at the math.

1 feature length movie running time= 90-110 minutes.

Hours committed to making the movie estimate= 3000 hours.

3000 hours = 125 days = 1/3 of a year.

*This is for a film that’s only 2/3 complete.

Now you’re probably saying, “That’s impossible!”  But it’s not, and here’s why.

When I’m working on a film, I become completely consumed and passionate in the production.  Every thought in my head is somehow connected back to what I’m working on. In order to explore a topic, it must be looked at from every possible angle.  The number of ways to explore a topic is infinite.  Does this mean you shouldn’t try?  Of course not. It just means that you’ll never run out of studying.

So in other words, making a film is a full timejob, literally.  If I’m not spending my waking hours filming, editing, or producing, I’m thinking about the film in every part of my life and then dreaming about it at night (dreams weren’t included in the estimate above).Film is the creation of reality, which makes the human experience the ultimate guide to filmmaking.  Film is the magic of watching realty unfold in front of our eyes.  Even fictional films convey realty.  At the heart of a film is emotion and the emotion is real, even if the story that evokes it is made up.  Every second of every day is an opportunity to expand.  It can be as little as seeing something in the grocery store and writing it down on the back of my receipt.  It could be a conversation with a loved one.  The possibilitiesare infinite.  Nothing goes unnoticed.Actual deskwork may last from 8 to 6 or 7 or 8 or 9, but the deskwork is only a tiny part of the work that goes into making a film.  I don’t make 8am to 6pm films.  It’s not because I don’t want to, it’s because I can’t.  I can’t take on a film and just forget about it at quitting time.   I don’t leave work at work.  I can’t leave work at work because to me, it’s not work; it’s my life.Some people might call it being obsessive. Others might argue that it’s not a healthy lifestyle.   Call me insane.  Tell me it’s impossible and that it won’t last.  Say that it’s not worth it.  Try to change me.  It won’t work, because like I said before, it’s not work, it’s my life.

Mark