Sunday, 19 July 2009

'It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live'

I really should listen to such wisdom sometimes. Or perhaps to my closest friends and not fictional wizards, but you get the point.

Those are the words spoken by Dumbledore when he catches Harry looking into the mirror of Erised, where all your dreams appear to come true, but in fact you're just staring gormlessly into a mirror, dreaming your life away. Making films isn't entirely unlike that concept; a lot of planning and dreaming to create something fictional and entertaining. And sometimes you get lost looking in the mirror and forget it's just a reflection.

Where reality comes in though - and reality is ironically very important for a filmmaker - is phone calls, emails, schedules, meetings with people, insurance, praticalities such as camera and light positioning, power sources, promoting the film, managing your very talented team of filmmakers and so forth. Lots of hard and rewarding stuff. And it's not necessarily something I'm comfortable doing because of the way my brain works. I suffer from burnout - if you want to label that social disorder that means you can only spend a small portion of each day in the company of people - which means that I spend a lot of time alone, when I choose to. Great for the writer side of me, not so healthy for the brain sometimes. People are social creatures and a lack of social interaction can do you considerable harm, especially when I'm someone who relies and thrives on the energy of people. Oh, delicious irony.

I made myself become a filmmaker because, apart from needing to have more interaction with people (although as Bruce Campbell says, filmmaking is in fact often a lonely experience that shuns socialising for work), I started feeling that I was going to have a very disappointing life if I didn't. It was my childhood dream and adolescent obsession but until you can prove it a worthwhile pursuit through trial and error, it's very frustrating and you tend to ask yourself if you're really cut out for it. I've reached the point where I can answer that with 'I have to be' or perhaps 'What else am I going to do?' I wonder if that's how many filmmakers feel.

I was distracted at school, I hate authority, I don't particularly enjoy regular jobs which is why I tend to pick an easy one and stay a few years (with the resulting inevitable frustrations), I'm not that great at most other things and I'm lazy and stubborn. Maybe these are an odd combination of things, but they seem to drive me to be ultra-hardworking and ambitious with my films, weirdly enough.

Filmmaking is a blessing and a curse because you end up thinking about it every day and occasionally it causes total brain melt. And at times like that you have to regroup, do some yoga, read a good book, have a coffee, write a blog, whatever works. So now I have to get on with what I was getting on with. Thanks for indulging me a little soul-searching.

I'll end with the words of another wise wizard: 'All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us'. See, they do know what they're talking about, those old beardies. I'd better get on with it.

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