Planning your future is a lot like walking through your house in the middle of the night with the lights off—you hope you won’t crash into an ottoman or stub your toe on a dumbbell—all you need to do is take a piss, but the journey to the toilet is treacherous! How can we plan ahead when time will always keep rolling on and the world won’t stop for you—how can we plan when we have no control? Everything is so random and chaotic and dangerous. There is no reasonable way to predict the future, you can only prepare for it.
It is daunting, the future, the only Truth we have about what our lives will bring is that they will ultimately come to an end; and yet you cannot lose hope. The future is opportunity as much as it is demise. The candle will go out, but it’s not where you’re going, it’s how you get there.
We should all make plans, and then plan for them to change, and plan to make new plans when they do. Nothing is certain. Everything is transient and subject to the woes of the damned universe and its unyielding indifference to our needs. We ourselves will change, our passions will evolve and so will our priorities. The people and things that I love now, the things that I hold dear and put value in—will I feel the same way ten years from now? There’s no way to know. So we have to look inside of ourselves for personal truths. The things that we think and hope could possibly bring us a semblance of contentment about ourselves and about our endeavors. Our lives should be a livelong pursuit of self-understanding so that we can identify our needs and desires and strengths and weaknesses—when those unknown’s become known we can pave a road to fulfillment and happiness.
In a practical sense, we can plan things like a career to a certain extent, we can plan a family, plan a city we might like to live in. We can hope for the best and expect the worst. And then hope we will be pleasantly surprised.
Dreams of the future are allowed to be unreasonable, but they should not be unattainable. In the future, I plan to be a filmmaker, a director and/or cinematographer. How will I do that?
From what I know about the industry, the independent world and Hollywood machine alike, it takes three things: Talent, Hard work and Luck.
Robert Evans said “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.” My opportunity hasn’t come yet, and I don’t know that it will—but if and when it does come—I intend to be ready.
I have worked on just under 50 short films since the start of 2011. I have directed 8 projects, and specialized in camera and lighting on most of the others. I have developed a strong understanding of the technical components of the craft. I am confident that I can light any scene with the proper equipment and make it look good. Now that I have a solid base knowledge of filmmaking as a technician, I believe that I could find work as a grip, assistant camera operator or assistant production manager after a few years as a production assistant. But that is not my goal. That is not my future.
What I need to do is take the craft and find my “voice” or style. I know what I like in films, I have ideas about things, a sort of philosophy about how to approach it. But it is my belief that you cannot learn by watching or reading—you can only learn by doing. “Teacher is the best experience.”
I learn every time I direct a project, be it short film, commercial or music video. It has been said that it takes 30 or so bad movies before you can make a good one. My plan for now, is to continue working, learning and creating. Next summer I will produce and co-direct/DP (Director of Photography) a low budget feature length film to be shot in Milwaukee and the surrounding area, as well as in Duluth, Minnesota. I am currently in pre-production on a short in which I will work in the same roles that will be shot in the next two months, it is a prologue of sorts to the feature, it involves some of the same characters and exists in the same story world.
From that, we will try to raise money from independent financiers, family, friends and through crowd-funding. We will use the footage and other previous works as a sort of digital resume. We will harness our pitch and try to get others as excited about it as we are. Then we will make the film, try to raise more money for post-production and ultimately begin the gamut of film festival submissions. We are going to aim high—Sundance, Tribeca and Cannes—see what happens and move on from there to local festivals and smaller, less competitive ones. Our hope is that either someone somewhere will like the film enough to distribute it in some way. Once you have distribution, you have liquid credibility, and you can actually get paid to make something else.
That is my future for the next year and a half—I am very focused on my career at this point and do not want to think about serious relationships, children or even my future beyond the feature. I’m doing freelance film gigs as well as looking at advertising work upon graduation—but the feature is my life right now.
The odds say I should fail, but I won’t go out without a fight.