Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Nothing Matters

I'm feeling a bit insecure about this, hearing voices in my head. One of the reasons I dislike acting in my own films is the lack of separation for myself and often the viewer. Where does one begin their criticism? And that's exactly the problem - my experience of the film begins with critique. I want to move toward experiencing things and offering experiences. However, I think I'm caught up in striving and seeking the approval of other strivers. In our scramble toward becoming we are missing at least some of the joys of the journey, I'm afraid.
Several weeks ago I sent a couple of scripts to an actor with whom I've been interested in working. He hit me back with notes on the scripts from a writer's perspective. It doesn't really matter whether the notes were good or bad. I didn't even write one of the scripts. I was just trying to get a sense of his taste and interest. As a result I have a better idea of what he's like and whether I want to work with him.
When I imagine giving him a copy of this film, I recoil. Because I don't want to be reproached for doing something I've enjoyed. Because someone like him (or me) is not going to take it in. We can't. We are so practiced in deconstructing every element, that there's no joy or possibility even of simply experiencing something.
Salinger wrote this dedication in one of his books - “to the amateur reader, if he exists anywhere”. I'm feeling a bit like an over-educated Rodney King - Why can't we all just read a book or a film for pleasure? I'm guilty, guilty, guilty of the inability to do exactly that. And letting go of it is likely the answer to enjoying my own work as well as that of my peers.
As I cut the assembly of 'Jane Gallagher, please', from which the above clip is taken, I oscillated wildly between doubt and pride. But I doubted the pride more quickly than good feelings ever quieted my trepidation. Nonetheless, I carried on and stayed with it, which is progress that must be noted.
There's a guy in a hotel room that spends twenty-four hours waiting for his lover to show up. He leaves the room, but we don't go with him. He only talks to other people on the phone for the most part. “Nothing really happens” said my collaborator. Fellini said a film should be like watching the ends of a string unravel. I'm obsessed with this idea. And I'm working on it diligently. Brian is wrong - A lot happens in the film. Brian is right - Nothing happens in this film. It's like life. Especially from a nihilistic view of things.
Ultimately, I think I'm just scratching at the surface of what I want to say in my films. The takes in 'Jane Gallagher, please' are very long. This clip will likely remain this long in the finished film. Going to require some patience. Some of my viewers will be much more patient than I am. And the impatient viewers will be made all the more impatient by my lack of confidence in asking for their assiduity.
This project may fall into the category of yet another exercise. On the one hand, I'm grateful to have the resources and the determination to trudge onward. On the other hand, I fear that I'm unable to accomplish the task of completing a film that I can stand behind or next to or in front of or ...
Looking from the outside it's hard to believe other filmmakers need as much fucking practice as I seem to be requiring. It's difficult to trust that my journey is valid and that it's permissible to experience its joys.
One thing I've read and been encouraged by was an interview with the actor and short film director Matthew Modine. He says he sees a lot of movie credits behind short films and urges short filmmakers to keep it simple. Whether Mr. Modine would like my films or not is questionable, but he's sure to be impressed by the compactness of my credits. 'Jane Gallagher, please' - written, directed, acted, edited and produced by neal. camera, lights, sound by brian. c0-starring naomi.
Oh, and one more thing - I've become obsessed with the Bourne movies. I think Paul Greengrass is brilliant. So strike my scathing assessment of him a few months back. I'm looking forward to the 2010 Jason Bourne project with delighted anticipation.

Please dear god, in whom I don't believe, give me the strength to be an amateur.

Signore Direttore

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