Friday, April 25, 2008

All Agony, No Ecstasy: an email exchange

The following is an email exchange that took place over the last 24 hours between one of my teachers at DXARTS and myself. I think it holds a microcosm of personal and universal artistic agony, especially as it relates to filmmaking. I've replaced my instructor's name with "prof" and struck the name of one of the films that I reference just in case the person isn't comfortable being quoted directly.


Date: Thu, 24 Apr 2008 14:23:32 -0700
From: Prof
To: Erik LeDrew
Subject: Re: scripting troubles

yeah no problem, the most important thing is to make something, and the biggest obstacles are usually

1. agonizing over "is my idea good enough?"
2. ideas that are too ambitious for the reality of your timeframe/means

On Apr 24, 2008, at 2:20 PM, Erik LeDrew wrote:

ah. well...of course. :)

I guess I was thinking of that crazy way you went about hand-cranking your HD
footage from the cat and the owl.

Enough said. Thanks for hearing me out.

On Thu, 24 Apr 2008, Prof wrote:

you are misunderstanding me. all i'm saying is that when you're young, you
shouldn't agonize over the ideas so much. just decide on something and
execute it. that's how you'll get better.

On Apr 24, 2008, at 2:02 PM, Erik LeDrew wrote:
Hear, hear.
I'm not exactly a technical innovator though, as I'm sure you can tell.
And going back down the technical chain to a photochemical medium seems
less about innovation and more about just being an exercise for the sake
of experience -- which is what it was intended to be.
I've always thought content and ideas were my strengths, so making
something less about what and more about how seems counter-productive to
me -- even if I agree with you.

On Thu, 24 Apr 2008, Prof wrote:
Don't cancel your tests or your casting call, just write another little
scenario that kinda connects (i.e. uses the same character) but is
give yourself till tomorrow night to come up with the new concept.
when you're shooting on film, the story of a wet dude limping down the
street and talking someone into buying him a hamburger can be
sophisticated. it matters less what the film is about, more how you make
it, at this stage in your career. (that's my opinion more and more these
days, i think it's true for all of us while we're "nobodies")

On Apr 24, 2008, at 1:45 PM, Erik LeDrew wrote:
Monkey-wrench man, monkey-wrench.
Actually, I had considered that, but I ended up tabling it because
we're already going into the fifth week of the quarter and to start
from square one content-wise seemed like an unsafe endeavor.
You have a good point though. It would be nice to leave 202 having a
complete work. That said, at this point, how sophisticated can it
actually be? I've lost a month's worth of work.
At some point I have to draw the line. I mean, I could ideate and see
what I come up with, but I have already ordered film and my tests are
this weekend which can be pushed back but...fuck man. I don't know
what to do. I've already put out a casting call and everything...
I'll tell you what. I'm going to cancel camera tests this weekend.
I'll give myself until Sunday to have a new story conceived, written,
shot-listed, and sketched. If I don't have at least those first three
elements in place, I'm going to push ahead with the beach scene.

On Thu, 24 Apr 2008, Prof wrote:
you don't need to make something self-contained, but it might be
more satisfying ultimately, speaking from personal experience.
what about just coming up with a new idea altogether and waiting on
the current one until such a time when you can do it right?

On Apr 24, 2008, at 1:32 AM, Erik LeDrew wrote:
hey man --
i'm having trouble reverse-engineering a stand-alone piece out of
the two beach scenes. It loses a lot of its specific meaning
without the rest to contextualize it. It becomes ambiguous in a
way that i don't think is good. I'm wondering if i should just
shoot it as-written, with the intention of filming the rest.
I also don't really like how it essentially makes it a
naturalistic version of the video I made last year in 453. not to
mention that by removing the acting and narrative-driven elements,
it removes a lot of the things that I wanted to experiment and
challenge myself with in the first place.
I've come to this line of thinking after about five hours of
sitting, and thinking, and sitting and I don't really like where
I've ended up. i don't feel good about it, and i'm not intrigued
by it. so unless there's something lively and poetic that i'm
missing, i think the scene belongs as a piece of a larger film,
not a stand-alone.
if you're cool with it, i think what i'd like to do, is shoot the
scene the way i would want it to be in the finished piece, and
maybe storyboard out the rest of the film, and create a sort of
tempcut, substituting the storyboards for the two missing scenes.
do you think this would be satisfactory? or do i really need to
make a self-contained piece?
or am i going in the wrong direction entirely?
sorry for the bombardment -- erik

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