Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Just Do It... NOW!

From 2011... don't ask about the film project I talk about.

Don't wait for someone else to give you permission.

That's a trap.

You either want to so something, or you do not want to do something.

If you want to do something, you will find any way to do it – you will be relentless in finding ways to do it.

If you do not want to do something, you will find ways not to do it – and be just as relentless in finding ways to avoid doing it.

I used to work with a guy named Owen who did not want to work – and would do twice as much work to *avoid* working as he would have had to do if he'd just done the job. He would take pallets at the warehouse and reorganize them so that it looked like he'd done the assigned work. If he'd just done the work assigned to him, he'd probably have worked *less* - but if you don't want to do something you will find a million excuses and side tasks to do instead of what you are supposed to be doing.

I know this first hand because there are times when I need to write an article, but instead I work on a script... and times I need to work on a script, but instead I write an article. You have to want to do something, or you will never get it done.

Don't create your own obstacles – if you want ti do something, just do it.

There's a guy on a message board who hasn't written his first screenplay yet, because he's waiting until he has the right connections to sell it. That really doesn't make much sense. Let's say he makes some great connections and they ask to read his script – do you really think they will wait for him to write it and rewrite it and get it good enough for that big connection to read?

Don't wait for things that you can't control – do the things you can control.

I'm on vacation in my hometown, and Sunday night I hung out with a couple of guys I used to make short films with way back when we were in community college. All of us are blue collar guys - no money, but we had a love for film. We spent every spare cent that didn't go to rent and food on films – and sometimes the food money got spent. Lots of the night's conversation was about the old days...

When I was in community college (Diablo Valley College – home of the sex for grades scandal!) I had a full schedule of classes, and two part time jobs that added up to over 40 hours. I have lived on my own since turning 18, and before that I was responsible for paying bills at home... and had a full time job at a movie theater while I was in High School. Before that, I had a variety of jobs going all the way back to moving a half dozen lawns in my neighborhood. My buddies had similar lives – they had jobs and took a full load of classes, and we decided to sleep when we died. Um, wish I'd banked some sleep when I was a kid!

So, Sunday night we talked about how we could not afford film, so we would make flip book animation with note pads. Van would storyboard scenes for films he planned to shoot. John got into acting and stage direction because you didn't have to buy film (he was also the DP for a lot of film students – so that he could make films that someone else paid for).

My first little film starred my roommate (another guy who worked at KMart) and was made in an hour or two before we went to work... while we were doing laundry at the laundromat. Between my jobs and my classes and seeing movies, *making* movies was hard to find time for. So I planned ahead. I had my story boarded and a shot list and all of the props were in an old paint bucket by the front door of the apartment. When both of us were free during the same time period – doing laundry - all of the stuff was ready. We went to the Laundramat, and while Dave and I did our actual laundry, I also shot a short film called LAUNDRA-MATT about a guy named Matt doing his laundry. I mean, what else do you do while waiting for your clothes to dry? Oh, yeah – homework. Well, this was *my* homework, sort of.

I ticked off the shots on the shot list, I had the boards so that I knew the angles, and made a 3.5 minute short film in about an hour - we both got our laundry done and got to work on time. Now here's the kicker: this was film and I had no editing equipment at the time, so it had to be shot *in order* in the camera and every single take had to work. A mistake would ruin the whole film. Not only were there no mistakes, at the end my crazy roommate did a stunt that was *suggested* in the script - but he went ahead and did it! He crawled into the big dryer, put in some quarters, and hit the start button... and did a revolution or two! Guy could have been killed. Instead - absolutely the most amazing ending ever!

And my two pals had similar stories of their first films - one worked a construction crew and the other installed carpet full time. They had also carefully planned their films so that when they had the time, none of it went to waste. We all found the time to make our films, instead of waiting for the perfect conditions or waiting for someone to give us permission. We just did it. Van mad a documentary that won some festivals and *sold* to the government for about a dollar fifty. He may have bought the pitcher that week.

You don't need to wait for Hollywood to hire you, you can just do it yourself. Write your scripts, make your films, write your novel, do whatever the heck you want to do (within the law... okay, if you shoot a film without a permit don't tell me). Don't wait for permission. Make a plan on how to get it done, and then just do it.


So, the reason for our meeting was our movie. Because I'm not as smart as I look, after everybody I know made their own film... I decided it was time for me to make my own. What was I waiting for? Permission? DON'T WAIT FOR PERMISSION! (this means me!) So a couple of years ago I decided to make my own movie with my two oldest friends and started writing a script and then got sidetracked by a paid gig – I think the 80s horror movie remake – and kept putting off writing the script because it seemed like a crazy longshot to me...

And it probably *is* a crazy longshot – but what the heck?

Part of the reason for making the film is so that I have some real-world experience making a no-budget film so that I can write some new articles to go with the thirteen articles I wrote for the Independent Film Channel Magazine many years ago on low budget screenwriting... and end up with a book on how to write and make your own film. That's why I'm not taking this project to some producer or distrib connection for funding – the person who buys the book won't have that ability. But we did talk about crowd-funding, since everyone I know is using that method to fund their little films. Originally I was going to credit card the film, but that seems so 90s now (wait a minute – HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE was made in the *80s*!), so we'll probably put together some Kickstarter page to fund the film. We aren't waiting for someone's permission – we're just making the movie.

My dad asked me about distribution, and that's a very good question. A couple of years ago I “test pitched” my story idea to low end distribs to see if they might be interested. Because this is *not* a horror movie, I was worried that it might not have a market. But the distribs all seemed very interested in the story and genre and a couple offered to help me find funding for it...only problem with that is that they would then own the film and if it was a hit *they* would make all of the money. Um, even though this is to get experience for a book and work with my buddies, I'd still like to make some money – since I'll be calling in favors and working my butt off for free to make it. But here's the thing – if every distrib says no to the finished film, it's not over! We can self distrib and do streaming online and all kinds of other ways to get the film to the audience. I'll just do that.

Part of our meeting was on making a poster and a trailer and looking at casting possibilities. Our biggest issue right now is that John is working a construction job that will take him to the end of the year, so we've postponed production until early next year. Instead of *waiting* for John to be finished with his job, we're going to do all of our prep work and pre-production and build props and maybe set elements. By the time John is available we will have everything planned out and be ready to make the film. We aren't going to let this stop us – or even slow us down. When there is some hurdle, you jump over it. When one element isn't ready, you work on another element. You don't wait for someone to give you permission and you don't allow small problems to be big problems. Life is full of hurdles – you have to jump over them.

As a screenriter who always had a full time job (until breaking in) I realized that if you only write one page a day, that is 3 feature length screenplays by the end of the year. So I wrote 3 scripts a year while working full time and having a life. A page a day? Possible – even if you are busy. If you end up too busy to write your page today, *think* about the next two pages and have them planned out in your mind so that you can write two pages the next day.

If you don't have time to do the whole thing, do it a piece at a time.

Will you be faced with a million problems and a thousand hurdles and all kinds of great reasons *not* to do something? Of course! But if you want to do it, you will find the way to get it done. If you aren't motivated to get it done, you need to spend some time on introspection to figure out why – maybe you really don't want to write scripts or make movies. Maybe what you want to do is... sing!

- Bill


Marty said...

GREAT article Bill, thanks again for the encouragement and INSPIRATION!

Anonymous said...

This has been my mantra for the past few weeks. Some days it feels like there's no time to write, but I've been making an effort to do SOMETHING whenever I have spare time. If I'm not working on pages for one script, I'm editing the outline for another. Even just a little work makes me feel like I've made some progress.

Anonymous said...

Doing it now is so true. As I rapidly work my way towards the end of my fifth novel I keep wondering what took me so long to get going.

I only hurt myself. The 5th book is so much better than the first one. This was shit I should have had out of the way last decade.

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