My daughter Mea just won best European student film in Berlin plus the audience award. My other daughter Lois received a congratulatory letter that she got admitted to the Film academy. (some fatherly pride here) We’re now a dynasty. And while celebrating in a lavish way, they wanted to know what I –the old rooster— could reveal as the deepest secret of filmmaking, what can they expect once they venture into the real and rough film industry?
Well, that was a party pooper. Perhaps I should have lied, but I didn’t. My answer was; directing is the most lonely profession on a filmset. Everyone in the crew asks your blessing all the time. Is this the right lens? Should the tea cup on the table in the background be blue or green? Can we wait ten minutes because the actress has to go to the loo in a café ten minutes away first. You have no one to share this avalanche of questions with. No one! The responsibility is often crippling.
But fortunately there is a positive twist to this story which I shared with my daughters and would like to forward to aspiring filmmakers amongst the readers of this blog.. The film I just finished LOVE IS THICKER THAN WATER was directed by two directors; me and Emily (Harris). Emily has made some extra-ordinary classy shorts, and she handles all the special films made at and for the Victoria and Albert Museum. My background is far more traditional with Hollywood films like Drop Dead Fred and Miami Vice, and Raindance films like Deadly Virtues; Love. Honour. Obey. See the trailer here:
Both my daughters could not envision directing a film together with someone else. Doesn’t a film have to be one vision? One voice? Well Emily has a much younger vocabulary as I do, and she has a stronger sense for a modern visualization. While my experience in handling actors and crew came in handy.
And the vision? Of course you need to agree what the film is all about. But she makes me better and I –hopefully—lift her. The time to do everything on your own is old fashioned. Films are not made by committee, but in the digital era films can be made by teams. Emily and I tried very hard not to be like minded. We wanted to disagree and let the discussion surpass our own limitations. It’s only possible if you respect each other, and that you never give in out of kindness. Kindness for a filmmaker is banned from the set. But the old saying is true; shared pain halves the pain.
My daughters were only partially convinced. ‘Why don’t you try?’ I suggested. ‘Ok‘, Mea said; ‘As long as I have final cut.’ ‘You get final cut if I get first billing’ Lois answered. ‘I’m the oldest. I have birthrights on first credit.’
Don’t worry, siblings never agree, but surely they’ll make a film together and bestow more fatherly pride on me. Meanwhile, we can’t agree on a title for my latest film.
Can you help and take a few moments to look at this survey?