Thursday, September 24, 2009
Why Ask Why?
At the New York panel event to launch my new book, Amid Amidi advised the audience to ask themselves, "Why do I want to have my own TV show?" It's an important question for any would-be creator to answer because your motivation can help determine whether or not you should expend your energies toward that goal. As creative people we have a choice of where to spend that most precious of resources—time. The options we have and the distractions that might pull us away are innumerable. But if we ask ourselves "why?" before beginning a creative project, we might find a clear reason to see the project through and eliminate all the other possibilities.
It's just as important that we ask "why" we want to make an independent film. I've made two films with the sole motivation of wanting others in the industry to take me seriously as a viable creator for a TV series. Not surprisingly these are my least successful films. Neither one connected with an audience nor did they win the validation I was seeking.
When I made the film "Good Morning," I wasn't setting out to make a breakthrough indie film, see it aired on Noggin or accepted into the Hiroshima International Animation Festival, but that's what happened with this heartfelt film. I was coming out of melancholy period in my life and something from inside drove me to make that film. When I started it, the film was only going to be something to share with my wife. The first eight seconds were animated while she was busy in another room and I couldn't wait to share this animation with her. Showing it to anyone else was an afterthought.
My wife recently made a film and had a similar experience. While she's a creative person with diverse talents, she wasn't planning on making a film, let alone a 50-minute documentary over a two-year production time, but that's just what she ended up doing. Why? What was her motivation to devote so many hours, days, and weeks, as well as pour personal expense into this project? And, what motivated her to stay the course through each thankless and unglamorous stage that stood between her and the finished film?
She hadn't set out to make this film or any other film. But, when she saw a couple of performances by the all-female sketch comedy group, and met with the group members she felt compelled to document them and their work. She didn't know what she'd end up with; it was simply something she wanted to do.
When I first saw her picture lock, it was a very emotional moment. Besides my personal connection to the filmmaker and her sacrifices to make this film, I was deeply moved by the experiences of the four members of the troupe. On the simplest level, it's the story of a group of creative people trying to reach a goal and how the industry—and life in general--can put up endless obstacles. At the end of such journeys, very few look back from the vantage of wild success, but as creative people there is victory in being in the game and in knowing that there is another project, film, or pitch in us.
[I'm thrilled that a festival audience will soon have the chance to see my wife's film, "Desperate for a Laugh" at its official world premiere at the 6th Annual Big Apple Film Festival (BAFF), taking place on November 3-7 at the Tribeca Cinemas in New York City. ]