Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Insufferable Pretension, Part 3

Okay, so you kids aren't really down with this week's theme. My hitcount has been squishy-soft all week (even by this blog's headpat-inducing standards), so I'm guessing that public interest in my plaintive mewling on the creative process is a bit on the low side.

But y'know what? I don't care. Nope, I don't care at all. It's only day three, bitches, and we've got a long way to go. I'm-a putting my prostelytizin' hat on today (which is a lot like a pimp hat, but with a much more immodest plume.)

My Wednesday thesis is this: film is the greatest creative medium that has ever existed. It's the Uber-Medium. You can have your theater, your dance, your painting, your music, your opera, your sculpture, your prose and poetry. I mean, I love all of those things, too, but there's a reason why I chose film over any of them: film is capable of encompassing all of the above, and with a bit more on the side. I've gotten to play with everything since I began -- not always for as long as I'd like, or to as deep a level as I'd want, but enough to get my hands dirty in new and interesting ways. The only glaring gap in my secondary skill set is music -- music is still, for me, a shop window against which I often press my nose, watching the kids inside playing with shiny toys I only vaguely understand. And one day I'll come back around and put some time into solving that particular puzzle, but now's not that time.

The point is, the big attraction of film for me is the absolute impossibility of running out of new stuff to learn about during my finite human lifetime. The attendant risk is that I never actually manage to learn about any of it deeply enough to completely understand it. Knowing a bit about optics and a bit about chemistry and a bit about sound design and a bit about mechanics and a bit about electronics and a bit about drama and a bit about eye-brain response and a bit about all the rest of it is great, and it'll certainly make a well-rounded person out of you, but will it ever imbue a real depth of understanding of anything?

For example, I'm currently enjoying my own personal age of reason, spending my spring on evolutionary biology (which is unspeakably amazing), but it'll never make a biologist of me. And much of my life has been spent this way -- a year on Haitian vodoun, a year on folklore and ritual, a year on Jungian psychology, a year teaching myself French... and the only thing that ties it all together is that somehow, eventually, it'll end up in a film. All the people I've known, every place I've been, the assorted lives I've led -- they're all scooped up and chewed up and deposited back onto a page that will, hopefully, one day become a moving picture on a screen. The cinema is the glue that holds my entire life together.

Which you'd never guess from the sparse body of my extant works. The problem is that most of these films have not yet been -- and might never be -- made. Oh, I'll make as many as I can, but like I said, it can take years, and right now I'm only in the writing and meaningfully-experimenting stage. I have ideas enough to fill walls of shelves; by 30 already enough to keep me busy for a lifetime even if I never have another one. And with my expecation that as I get older my ideas will only improve, I'm assuming most of them will never see the light of day, as a screenplay or as anything else. Most of them will never be more than pages of notes. Still, it's not a bad thing, really, knowing that you've got enough work to keep you occupied.

These days I keep my post-adolescent fantasies of Indiewood glory in a box on a shelf in my metaphorical closet (everyone needs something powerful enough to push them off down the road), and I've come to realize that I'll spend as much time wrestling with myself and my circumstances as I will actually doing the work I want to do. But I'm nothing if not doggedly determined -- the up-side of taking the slow-and-steady approach is that what you lose in forward propulsion you gain as staying-power. And at least I know I won't flame out by 35 (and who decided that creative success is supposed to happen so young, anyway?) I figure I'll be hitting my creative peak by my early 50s, just as my estrogen levels drop and my bullshit-rejecting, old-lady ass-kickingness surfaces. When I'm an old lady I intend to wear big floppy hats, carry a walking stick, and stomp around like I own the place everywhere I go.

But I can't do any of that unless I do all this fiddly work now -- making my notes, writing the pages that'll never be anything more than pages, digging my fingers down into the myriad parts that make up my cinematic whole and trying to get a handle on them, one by one. It's not exactly what drew me in in the first place, but it's what always draws me back . If I can spend my life this way, doing this endless, endlessly new work, I'll be satisfied regardless of whether I ever "make it" or not.

Though a decent paycheck wouldn't be a bad thing.
12:43 AM ::
Amy :: permalink