Today I am going to talk about love but keep in mind this is not going to be a romantic story. It is more about a love that is difficult to understand and that can cause so much troubles and uncertainty but it is the only one that gives me meaning and inspiration.
I have realised recently that sometimes in order to get what you what, you first will need to learn how to wait… How to wait in a storm, how to wait in the rain, how to wait in time. But waiting doesn’t mean being still… Waiting for the right moment means appreciating what you have now and being as productive as you can.
If someone told me 6 years ago that filmmaking is a luxury that not everyone can afford to do I wouldn’t have even considered it…When you are young and inexperienced - you believe more in love and life and the new opportunities… However as you get older this same passion is still there but more cultivated and modified. Through all these years I let the love of filmmaking recreate my life. Working on different projects gave me the experience to see the different shades of love… This love taught me so many lessons which I was not ready to accept but I still appreciated every challenge I had to overcome. Let me tell you a story of my love with filmmaking and its important lessons…
Lesson #1: Sincerity is the key to begin with
The image is from the film “1,2,3 Until You Find me”. This is the first movie I worked on with a small team in a few locations. At the time I didn’t have my own equipment, I didn’t work with a pre-production plan and often, I was running from my work during lunch breaks to support my colleagues. We were creating shots by improvising on set but it was a great first experience. When I am looking at some of the shots in this movie I realise how differently I would tell the story now. Yet 6 years later, it can be a different movie, because I am a different person. Films can be subjective because they are about what you like, what you don’t like at this moment of your life. But what is important for me is the idea that every time I go through my memories, I feel that it’s the best movie we were able to do at the time and we poured everything we had into it. Whether or not I agree with what we have done now it doesn’t matter. The thing that matters is the real effort we put into it and that we did it with sincerity.
No matter how experienced you are, be honest with yourself when you are making movies and you will surely find an audience that will appreciate your sincerity.
Lesson #2: Expect many Sleepless Nights
The next image is from a movie called “Pigs Don’t Fly”. Another Love story with an unhappy ending. I remembered the time I was transfering all the props for the film by myself five times one evening from my flat to a different location. The next day I had a meeting with the cinematographer, Nelisa ALcalde, who came to leave all the kit. We had to reach the 5th floor in one of the the old buildings on Royal Mile with narrow corridors. It was heavy, it was inconvenient and the next day we had to film from 4 am. We had a lot of work during the shooting days and I could barely manage to sleep but I didn’t even notice the sleepless nights. Somehow I got lost in another world. The film to me was a magical medium that made me “dream” during the day and constantly think about the next scene and the next scene… I had put so much personal energy in it. How could I just run out of energy? Allow yourself to get lost in the storytelling. Nights will become days… Days will become Nights but it is ok as long as you end up with good footage.
Lesson #3: Learn to control your Freakiness
There will be projects in which so many things go wrong. Some actors may need more time to practise before filming but you cannot afford the time or the set design could be ruined so there is no continuity or the sound could be recorded on the wrong levels so the sound design could be complicated. It’s always the same freakiness that visits me, no matter the stage of the the working process I am in. When I look at the storyboard of the film that we shoot every day, I am very excited by it and very positive about how it’s going to work. However, quite often when I first see the roughest cut, I want to go home and start crying and quite often I repeat to myself: I should give up filmmaking. And then it gradually, maybe, works its way back, somewhere toward that moment of confidence and excitement I was at before…
Freaking out could be unavoidable in the film working process. Yet, if you learn how to control it not only will it be beneficial for building a better workflow for the team but it can be used as a productivity fuel to cope with your tasks more effectively.
Lesson #4 Embrace the uncertainty
I realized a few years after my graduation that filmmaking is not just a choice for a career path but but it is a choice of a lifestyle. The path for me after graduating with a BA in Statistics was easy. Just update my CV and apply for jobs. I go to several interviews and sooner or later I have the office job. However after finishing an art course, the possibilities for my dream job are not that clear. To my opinion there’s sill specific resistance towards women making movies, it is getting harder for women who are not British or Americans to put their foot in the door. I just choose to ignore that as an obstacle for two reasons: I can’t change my gender and my country of origins, and I refuse to stop making movies. It is true there is no right or wrong path of how to become a successful filmmaker… It takes time, indeed, and networking could be an extremely exhausting activity. Quite often, I think about my friend Paul with whom I was able to embrace so many uncertainties while we were filming A Common Connection. He said to me that in order to move on in life he wouldn’t focus on what he can’t do but on what he can - right now in this moment. Through the rough times I often ask myself what is certainty and whether I need it anymore. I would use a quote from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs screenplay: “I believe certainty regarding that which we see and touch—it is seldom justified, if ever. Down the ages, from our remote past, what certainties survive? And yet we hurry to fashion new ones. Wanting their comfort.“Certainty”—it is the easy path…” Patience, reliance and embracing uncertainty are essential for the filmmaking world.
Lesson #5 Home can be everywhere and this everywhere can be lonely
Being a filmmaker at the beginning of your career means that you cannot be based in one place for a long time. Home can be everywhere and everywhere is not really home. Sometimes I have to deal with loneliness and alienation. I guess everyone eventually deals with loneliness at a certain point. I’m happily connected with supportive friends but eventually I learn to deal with everything. Sometimes I feel I can be lonely in a group of friends who are not filmmakers. It is hard to explain the uncertainty in this career and the awful feeling of helplessness sometimes. In these times I trust the universe and that there is a reason for everything, in my case it could be a situation which I need to overcome somehow in order to grow… Quite often I start a new story for a film and then this loneliness disappears shortly after. Detach from expectations, and remind yourself that that sooner or later your efforts will be paid off.
We watch others doing and achieving from images and we build high expectations for our own life… Then we start feeling powerless in our attempts to meet these expectations. In order to get back to our inner power and self motivation we need to detach from unrealistic expectations. So my dear filmmaker friends, this was my short story of what it means to be in love with filmmaking… What is your love story about?