Friday, March 14, 2008

the love you take is equal to the love you make

Wanna make a movie? Learn to juggle.

From Wikipedia:

Juggling is a form of object manipulation. The most recognizable form of juggling is toss juggling, where the juggler throws objects through the air.

The word "juggling" derives from the Middle English jogelen to entertain by performing tricks, in turn from the French jongleur and the Old French jogler. There is also the Late Latin form joculare of Latin joculari, meaning to jest

Other definitions on the web:
- juggle: the act of rearranging things to give a misleading impression

- To keep (two or more objects) in the air at one time by alternately tossing and catching them.

- to engage in manipulation especially in order to achieve a desired end

But here's my favorite one, and the one that sums it up for me.

- Juggling is simply the manipulation of time and space to create the necessary patterns during a routine, or anything Else in life for that matter.

For me I'm equating the art of juggling with making a movie. And like learning to juggle (which I am still actually quite horrible at) you can't start out without dropping a few balls. (insert dirty joke here.)

And learning to juggle is frustrating. You hardly succeed in catching your "prop" in the beginning. And thus begins a series of endless moments where you drop things and then chase after them bent over forwards, your arm outreached, hand trying to grab it, as it rolls away from you. Not unlike learning to make a movie independetly and with no money.

You can't afford a production manager, or a prop master, or a location scout, or a script supervisor. Of course you can put the call out and find people willing to help you for screen credit and no pay, but in the end much of these things are so important to your production that you don't want to risk asking someone to take on a task and then not show up to do it. So you do it all, or as much as you can. And this is where it is very much like learning to juggle.

My first few attempts I was constantly dropping the ball. Not truely understanding that I needed to catch one thing, while tossing up another, and still keep my eyes on all 5 balls. It truely is about multiple manipulation of time and space. You've got to get the script done, coordinate meetings, schedules, costumes, locations, at the sametime, find time to cast extras, do rewrites, talk to the special fx guy, and then there's those pesky bills, day job, and everyday life and stuff.

When it comes to throwing balls in the air, I'm not so good. But when it comes to juggling the tasks of a nobudget indie movie, I've gotten the hang of it. You do something enough, you get use to it, you improve upon it, and you become better at it. And that's a good feeling. Like all things new to you, you reach that point where you start to get the hang of it. You find your footing, you're not so nervous about it, not so anxious, a little bit more at ease. You understand what goes first, what comes next, and how to keep the process in motion.

I finalized the script this week, and now I immediately move to script notes, actors meetings about dialogue, production sheets, cast reports, location reports, scene reports, and additional casting. And I feel good about it. Mainly because I remember when this was about the time I would drop the ball. I remember finishing the script, and then being happy about it, and then not knowing what the next step to take was. But now I get it. I understand this process more, and it may not be the same process other filmmakers, or other productions, but it's the process that works for me. It's how I know things get done for my movies, and it's working out well.

Haven't dropped the ball yet, and I don't think I'm going to. I may not be all that great at juggling, but I understand the concept. I understand what it takes to manipulate things in order to achieve the desired end. And when I've got my act together I hope that everyone will enjoy the show. And then I hope to jump right back into it all over again.

I hope one day I can make movies as good as this guy juggles.

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