Quantity

Since October 2013 I have directed 8 short films (as of the writing of this in July 2014). Two of those films remain incomplete. Time Signature is currently in post-production and Kitty Ostapowicz’s 600 Steps still has some scenes to shoot before we can enter post-production. That almost doubles my film output of the previous five years (not including films that went incomplete or unreleased). I made a conscious effort during the nine months from October 2013 through June 2014 to shoot more films.

Previously I would go months, and in some cases years, between projects. I would work on other projects but not as a director. After the unsuccessful conclusion of the Meme Kickstarter campaign I decided that I didn’t want to wait. I didn’t want there to be a big lull while I figured out what I was going to do with Meme next. I needed to shoot. I needed to shoot more than I had before. Not just for the sake of building out my resume or recovering from the ego blow of the unsuccessful campaign, but also because I needed to improve as a director.

They say that writers write as a way to nudge those who call themselves writers but never produce any written work to work on their craft. Well, it works for film too, I think. Directors direct. Directing is a skill and it is a skill that needs to be developed. It needs to be worked on. You can’t just do it because you’ve seen films and know theory and got a degree. You have to work on it. I hadn’t worked on it enough. So, I set out to work on it.

I started with small one (or sometimes two) day shoots using whatever I had on hand and whoever happened to be available to help out. Then, after writing Time Signature, I decided that I had a project that was going to need a lot more work, a lot more people, and money to make it work. Eight films in those nine months all designed to get me to practice my craft, to practice the skill set I claim to have. I could have made each one a big production and spent months on each but not all of them demanded it and I would probably have gotten one of them done and not really accomplished my goal of honing my directing skills.

I will be the first to admit that some of the films that I made over this period aren’t particularly good. Some are much too rushed. Still, they accomplished what I needed them too. They got me behind the camera and working on my skills and I think if one were to take Metatron (the first of these films I did in October of 2013) and compare it to Ione’s Date one can see an improvement. Certainly, I think that later this year when I release Time Signature you will see yet another improvement over Ione’s Date. 

Last week prolific filmmaker Joe Swanberg said something similar in a long but very informative, interview with Filmmaker Magazine. He discusses the value of making many smaller films. It’s not quite what I’ve been up to. He’s made a lot of features and I’ve focused on short films. His way of making films is different than my own. Still, I think we’re talking about something similar in that there is value pursuing quantity.

So, I want to advocate to my fellow filmmakers that you occasionally take the time to focus more on quantity than quality, because sometimes it’s not about making the best film but about making yourself the best filmmaker by pushing yourself to do more and do more of a variety of projects. The better a filmmaker you make yourself, the better your films will be.

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