A good film is the beautiful end result of a myriad of artists executing their craft simultaneously to achieve the common goal of telling an amazing story. Without diving deeply into this statement (I’m sure we will cover it in a future blog) and tearing apart each and every individual that is absolutely KEY to executing a beautiful film, let me sum it up in an analogy…
“One cog cannot run a clock.”
I mean this to say that in my experience in the Independent Film Industry all too often do I see “Directors” step into the spot light as the writer, producer, editor, and DP all at the same time. The result of this, more often than not, is a terrible piece of video that feels slapped together and raw (not like “The Hurt Locker” raw, more like biting into a cold piece of uncooked chicken at a BBQ after its been sitting in the sun for the last hour…that type of raw). This happens because the “Director” is stepping into a roll that goes beyond his capabilities. That is true even if the director has amazing editing skills, a great artistic eye, amazing tempo in writing, etc. Because when the director is taking on more than one facet of the film, he is taking away his attention to the actors.
While this is not ALWAYS the case, and there are the RARE FEW who can handle the entire process by themselves, they are still robbing their project of the beauty that happens when that common goal is reached by a horde of inspired artists. There is rare beauty in that truth which rarely translates into other forms of art. When you learn the process of working as a production team and allowing each artist their space to deliver their best to the project, you achieve a level of quality that can only be attained by multiple people giving 100%. That is something that one person alone cannot do.
Why does this feel so counter-intuitive? The answer is kind of simple. The film industry is one that celebrates the skills and achievements of artists with so much grandeur that, to the public eye, it has become a celebrity-building machine mass-producing egos. This “inspires” a lot of filmmakers for the wrong reasons and results in an over-saturated industry full of people with cameras trying to achieve the most they can while still keeping it A FILM BY SO-AND-SO. However, the truth is: THIS IS NOT YOUR MOVIE! Films are gifts to your audience. While they can also stand as monuments of success in your career, they are not monuments of PERSONAL success but of TEAM success. They are not solely declarations that your team was great at their crafts; they are, again, first and foremost a gift to your audience.
I say all of this from personal experience. My early attempts at filmmaking were actually attempts of becoming a celebrity director. I wanted to wear the suit, scream into the bullhorn, and be interviewed by news stations. I got lost in my own wants that various things that I didn’t account for sunk each of those ships. It was from those terrible motives that this beautiful understanding came to me. I experienced a humility in film that I did not know existed. Below the lime light and plastic that I thought I wanted was something alive and real. My projects became less and less about being A FILM BY MORGEN EARLE and more about the time spent with the teams I had developed, the bond that I began to share with these people. There is an image that exists that I hold so dear to my heart.It represents everything that I love about filmmaking, it reminds me to keep moving and keep doing the things I love, and the part about the picture that affects me so greatly is the looks on the faces of my team members.
Making films is an art form, the fire burns inside of filmmakers that forces them to yell “action!” and move cameras and tell stories. But rarely does that fire burn so brightly in EVERY facet of filmmaking. Pick the fire that burns brightest and let it explode! When you let that passion burn next to the passions of other artists, you will create a project that shines so brightly that it cannot be ignored.