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The world is vicious, brutal, and unforgiving; if you choose to see it that way. On the contrary, you could view it as exciting, challenging, and rewarding. Regardless of how you perceive the world, what comes first, passion or money?
Does an artist create art because they see a business opportunity in making a living by selling it, or does the artist follow his or her passion so adamantly that it shows in the product, and people buy it?
Does a business man or women make money simply to make money, or does he or she have a passion for the art of business, which the money is a benefit of?
Does the musician write music to make money, or is it their undying love of music that allows them to create a living by selling it?
The question now arises; would these people stop doing what they are doing if they didn’t make money doing it?
Of course not, but the scale must remain in balance in order to survive.
This week was the host to quite a few finish lines in my life. I finished the short film “Western Wandering”, I finished a fashion show promo video, and I finished my master’s degree in communication and journalism. On one hand it’s a huge relief, but on the other hand, finishing something doesn’t always mean that you’re less busy. In my case it just means crossing things off the top of a list and moving other things from the bottom up higher on that same list.
Even though I’m just as busy, there’s still a value in finishing a project. A professor once told me that the worst finished project is better than the best incomplete project. Finishing films is one of the hardest things I struggle with every day. It’s not because of the work involved, but rather knowing when to let go. My advisor Conrad Smith told me the other day that “Energy! O Energy!” has enough footage to edit for eternity. He’s right. The struggle is knowing when to stop, and realizing that you finally have what you want. The footage has been shot and the story is in place. Now it’s just a matter of finding what I want to use and using it.
I just finished my MA degree and a common question I’m being asked is, “what’s next?” I wish I knew. Like I said before, just because you finish something doesn’t mean that you’re done. Right now I have a number of other films on the burner, and EOE is hopefully going to be complete by the end of May. But then what, more school, projects to pay the bills, a feature film? My answer is, all of the above. Living is learning, which means that I never plan on being finished with “school”. Who says the projects that pay the bills can’t be fun? As for another feature film, there will be plenty of those as well. The past few films have been low budget and made with the resources that I have. These films were made out of pure passion and very little else. My goal for the next film is to take the idea of passion, and combine it with the resources of a well-funded film. Hopefully this is a recipe for a film that can reach a large audience and make a difference. “Come on kid, that’s just crazy. Do you really think you’re going to change the world?” If I had a penny for every time I heard this, I’d have enough money to change the world. It doesn’t bother me though because my idea of changing the world is different from that of the people who say this. If someone watches “Western Wandering” and feel the emotions and the experiences of the adventure, that’s all I can ask for. We tend to focus on the huge concepts and ideas in the world, but what about the individual moments? The huge concepts are made from each individual moment. If someone experiences one of those moments though one of my films, what more could I want? Remember, knowing where to stop is the hardest part of finishing.
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.