FAR OFF - Filming Wrapped
This past weekend on May 2, 2015; we finished principal photography on my first feature film "Far Off". While there is still a long journey ahead through post production and hopefully into lots of audiences' eyes, I felt weirdly compelled to write something up.
While most wide eyed film students are probably sold on the fame and money, I'd say a vast majority aren't told filmmaking requires a large degree of resilience, patience, and tolerance for pain to an almost masochistic level.
And I love filmmaking. Like seriously. Writing stories and making them work visually while discussing with actors how to breathe life into lines - I truly love it. The problem is things take time and I am impatient. Every new day is a another I could be dead, so I don't see the point in making excuses for not making progress on what I want to be doing with my life.
If I could, I'd be on set every day. And that's not a light statement either. It's not something most people qualify as fun or really enjoy. Time moves at a strange pace and you always seem to be fighting for more of it no matter what you do. Yet still, it calls for me. The swirl of stress and creativity has become the magic drug I exist for. If I'm not in the thick of it, I feel lost and meaningless.
So to provide further context: after I directed a new batch of short films and spent three years writing and seeking financing for what I anticipated would be my first feature film; it was slingshoted into development in the first half of 2014. The film would shoot in the summer, and we'd be in post and at festivals by the end of the year. Rewrites were stressful, but helped to bring out a better version of the film as I really dug into the themes I wanted to explore. And it was all guaranteed to happen. But guess what?
About a month our from already locked filming dates, financing fell through and I was slingshoted into a vat of depression.
Luckily... well depending on your definition of luck, I've gone through tons of other crazy film drama (losing entire short films to hard drive failures, damaged un-fixable cameras, the list goes on for a long while). And yet this loss somehow still hurt the most. But with all this awful experience behind me, I knew the best way to get out of the pain was to get working on the next thing immediately.. And by immediately, I mean IMMEDIATELY.
A week after the other project fell apart, I was writing the feature script to "Far Off".
So, wait, you ask, why make a feature film? Why not just do a few more shorts? Well I made a stupid promise to myself I would make a feature film during my current year of existence and I'm actually pretty good at holding myself accountable. First and only explicit humble brag of this essay accomplished.
Originally, "Far Off" was a 25 page pilot script I'd written in April 2013 that was pretty out there, but still very shootable with some amazing talent from previous short films I'd directed. By August, I had expanded on the pilot and had draft I was happy with and reached out to talent who were gracious enough to lock in.
I constructed this new script with the production model of my last short film "Fuck the Lake" in mind. That meaning, we could shoot over 3-5 successive weekends with a small amount of talent. Each weekend being a different locations. We would start filming the beginning of October and wrap late November, maybe early December.
Spoiler alert: we just wrapped on the first weekend of May 2015.
Things happen, and you have to readjust, rewrite, and be accepting of whatever if thrown at you. Otherwise things fall apart and that's the antithesis of why you're even making a film. But even after all the stress, there is still a film to show and not just wasted time.
There's a ton of details and production anecdotes I could dive into, but I may have to hold back for now. All I really need to say is our actors and crew gave me so much beautiful and honest work and (I think) their trust as a lot of this film sort of morphed before my eyes in the middle of production as we faced scheduling problems for what felt like an eternity.
And there was that time the cops showed up with guns drawn and... well, we'll save that for the commentary.
But somehow, we actually completed filming. And for now, I feel pretty great about it. I'm sure all that will change once the first cut is completed, but for now I will savor this and dream of what's next on the horizon.
You have to make it happen yourself. No matter what. What was supposed to take maybe 2 months to film took around 7 months in the end. And who knows where editing will take us next.
Because remember, filmmaking takes time. Lots of time. And patience. Lots of patience. And a tolerance for pain.
Lots and lots of pain.