Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A lesson in humility

"The humble improve" -- Wynton Marselis

Not wasting time by learning from less than the best is common sense, but the temptation is always there to lower your standards, or see if you can see what other people see in pieces of shit -- such as my recent [redacted] revisit.

I have to admit, in this flawed spirit, I recently watched what I'd always assumed was a bad '80s B-horror film. I had never seen this film, however. Well, I watched and it is in the final summation a bad 80s horror film. The story is garbage, the performances not particularly good. But -- the visual storytelling, while not great, was still pretty impressive considering the kind of movie this was for. While watching this above-par-for-its-ambitions movie, I found myself realizing that I likely could not tell a story that well. For all the credit I sometimes give myself, I couldn't do better than a bad 80s horror film. This was humbling. What was more humbling was that I immediately looked up the director's filmography thinking, "Surely, this guy must've moved on to something because he at least shows promise, if not mastery here." His IMDB page was empty. There or four DTV flicks, a low-rent reality TV show. Then nothing.

If this guy who directed what must've been received as surprisingly solid when it came out in 1987, couldn't make a career out of it -- then what does that say about me, who probably couldn't do that well at this point in time?

Now, it's possible there are a hundred and one reasons why the guy went nowhere -- addiction, trauma, disinterest -- but the thought was still humbling. It reminded me that making a decent film is not enough. You have to make the best possible film you can -- and even then, continue to better yourself.

It made me realize how rare a Duel or a Terminator are straight out of the gate. Either of which I'll be lucky to make at any point in my career.

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