Filmmaking should be fun. Being an artist should be fun. Yes, I said fun. Never said it would be easy, but it should definitely be fun. If it isn’t, why do it?
Seriously, many of us are still paying back student loans (NYU and AFI for me). This thing called the Entertainment Industry is a biotch of a business. It is nearly impossible to make a living doing it. I remember when Hillary Swank won an Academy Award for “Boys Don’t Cry”. She talked about not having made enough money the year she made that movie, to qualify for health insurance through the Screen Actor’s Guild.
In front of the camera or behind the camera can be stressful between gigs. You are never sure that you will have another. I have been there and I have the t-shirt, hat, coffee mug, etc. to prove it.
Drama, many times, is part of the process. Stop It! Right now! It doesn’t have to be. Some of my favorite film sets are void of drama. We click as a crew; we laugh, joke and after work grab a couple of cocktails. The people around you become “family”. Sometimes you don’t even know what is happening in the world at large because you are in the bubble of the project and you live it and breathe it. Why would you not want to have fun?
“The Mannsfield 12” (M12) is my favorite film that I ever Produced/Line Produced. I got to work with some of my comrades from AFI. There was this short hand. And it was wonderful.
Even when we didn’t agree on everything, we all knew we were fighting for the best possible outcome of our movie; just sometimes we had different ideas of what that was. Like I always knew, M12 should have a 14-day shooting schedule, but the director and one of my best friends to this day, Craig Ross, Jr. said 12 days. Who was right Craig? Me! … lol … The Cinematographer, Carl Bartels and the Camera Operator, Ken Stipe were in my class at AFI. We grew into our artistry together and all these years later (not saying how many) we are still friends and work together as often as we can. Craig had won the Gary Hendler Minority Filmmaker Scholarship at AFI to make a short film. He needed a Producer and my Thesis Film was being edited, so I didn’t have much to do. Someone at AFI said he and I should work together and we still work together to this day. We have a project coming out this year.
M12 was my favorite shoot. It was easy and fun and I became really close to many of the cast members including Aaron D. Spears and Carl Gilliard. I did not have much to do once we started rolling. I prepped the hell out of that film. So one day, I went on set because I was bored in the production trailer. I showed up, which I rarely do because I am a big believer in the set being the 1st AD’s realm. When I appeared, Craig freaked out, turned around and said, “What’s wrong?” I said, “Nothing, I was bored and lonely.” He said, “Cheryl, don’t scare me like that, you usually only come to set when something is wrong.” We had to make a deal, that if I arrived with food or drink in my hands, nothing as wrong. Understand that Craig got the best part of the deal because I had to bring HIM something. Yeah, I saw what you did. Directors, can’t make a movie without them.
It isn’t that filmmaking isn’t stressful, it’s that you have to learn to love the stress, the entire process, the good, the bad and the ugly. It should bring you joy.
I liken what I do to a drug. My biggest high is making movies. I am addicted, horribly, terribly addicted and I would not have it any other way.
So this blog is dedicated to the Cast and Crew of “The Mannsfield 12”. The most fun I have ever had making a feature film!
Until next month … Seize the Day!
*”Enjoy Your Time” photo courtesy of Dollar Photo Club