I’ve always said that I would rather have good friends than money or material goods. Especially if those friends give me cash and cool stuff.
I spent this past weekend directing my latest short film, The Social Club. If you want to know what kind of friends you have, direct a no-budget short with them. Ask them to sacrifice a ton of their time. Ask them to spend their own hard-earned money on coffee and gasoline (hell, what are they going to need it for anyway, you’ve already destroyed their entire weekend, right?). Ask them to drive to the valley. Ask them to breathe artificial fog into their lungs for 36 hours. While you’re at it, why not ask them to borrow thousands and thousands of dollars of production equipment, or a home worth more money than you’ll probably see in the next 15 years (especially if you continue to direct no-budget shorts).
On top of all that, ask them to do it with the only the promise of a credit like “set photographer,” “grip,” “boom operator,” “grip/eye-blackener/beat-up dude in chair,” “cardboard taperer-to-windower,” “chili-maker/makeup/fog wrangler,” “light designer/A.D./b-roll director/hijack victim,” “homeowner/cleaning lady,” “put-upon D.P./editor/furniture mover.”
Well, there’s the credit…and my undying appreciation.
Hopefully the credit will be worth something someday anyway.
But things went great. I really do want to thank everyone that helped out. I can never repay you. I repeat: I can never repay you. So don’t ask.
Directing is a lot like giving birth I suspect. There’s a great deal of discomfort involved, you don’t get a lot of sleep before and during the process, in the heat of it all you can say snarky things that you don’t really mean, there’s a fear that the thing that bursts from your creative loins will be some hideous purple space alien-looking thing that looks less like it’s parents and more like its long-deceased great great aunt Maivis (present tense) – and it’s practically guaranteed that you won’t remember the pain after it’s all said and done.
Now, while I can’t guarantee that the finished product won’t have “alien-baby” syndrome, I can say that this project was the most pleasant one that I’ve had the privilege to work on. And, yes, I have forgotten the pain. In just a day or so. That’s some kind of record.
I tell you, it’s really easy during a shoot to say “I’m never going to direct ever again!” Let me say from experience that it’s way easier to delude yourself into thinking that the next one is going to win an Oscar.
Show me to that Academy Award (the one for best short under $400).
Fun Fact: In the 1960 movie "Psycho" by Alfred Hitchcock, Hitch used chocolate syrup for blood in the shower scene. On the set of the movie “The Social Club,” chocolate syrup was not used for blood…
…because I forgot it at home.