Here are two words that will never let you down: patience and persistence. The average movie takes several years from fundraising to release. If you don’t have what it takes to weather that sort of timeline, I suggest finding another medium to express yourself. Maybe you are the next super-duper Snapchat story sensation. Can you tell I’m into alliteration today? I love alliteration. Okay, I’ll stop. Maybe. No promises.
The Bermuda Triangle of the Creative Process – Good, Fast, Cheap
Whether you’re making a movie or another creative project, an album, a video game, literally, anything – there is one principle that is unavoidable. Most call it, the good, fast, cheap triangle. The basics? Pick two. All three are impossible.
Experts agree, you can’t have all three. Maybe, for a little while it seems like all three are jiving for you, but I guarantee something is suffering whether you know it or not. Often, it’s that your movie is way worse than you think.
Here’s my personal take on the good, fast, cheap triangle. The overlap between fast and cheap means you’ve got a crappy film. Choosing good and cheap means you’ll be moving at turtle speed (and not the ninja ones). If you are on the good and fast train, expect it to cost a lot of precious dough. And I’ve replaced the middle where good, fast, and cheap overlap with a big ol’ pile of poop. That’s because when you try to live in the middle of good, fast, and cheap, your project will be poop, you will be pooped out, and your reputation is also probably poopy. There’s poop everywhere and there’s no escaping it. It probably smells like porta-potty row at a week-long hippie, camping music fest where they forgot to schedule the service to empty them.
Commonly, the time when filmmakers lose their patience and their persistence is weakening is in the post-production process. I get it. We got the movie in the can, why the heck is it taking so long to get it DONE?!?!?!
Beggars Can’t Be Choosers
Once You’re In It, You Have to Be the Most Patient Person
Harping on the team for updates isn’t going to get you anywhere. If you’ve hired the right people, the team is doing everything they can to make your film, and that behavior is demoralizing and distracting. Instead, communicate goals, offer help and listen when issues arise. There will be things you don’t understand, but just trying to understand is half the battle and no matter what the techno mumbo jumbo is, your post team will feel like you are on the team as opposed to a daunting outside enforcer. My goal? Keep your post team excited about the project, not dreading it. If your team seems to be groaning every time you talk, you are doing something wrong.
Sidebar: Don’t Use People
There is a fine line between collaboration and using someone. Changing the scope of the work, asking for add on services, or pressuring your team to work too quickly can all push you into the “user” category. Keep in mind why someone is working on your film and what they have to offer. I often have to remind others, “If we were paying full rate for ______, it would cost ______, they are giving us a HUGE discount, so we need to be a little more patient when they are prioritizing full rate work over ours, they have rent to pay too.” But this is honestly another post entirely, so more to come in the future on that.
Deadlines Do Have A Place – So Be Persistent
All this being said, I am not advocating for not having deadlines, just achievable ones. By starting the process with a logical set of deadlines, from pre-production all the way through release, it will allow everyone to do their best work at the most effective cost. If someone is just dropping the ball, that is entirely different and should be addressed. Being persistent means continually re-evaluating your expectations to meet new information, digging deep for a little more patience, and no matter what, just not giving up.
Portland has been a growing grounds for me to practice patience and persistence. After shooting multiple feature films in the area, I know the value of the best team. I’ll put on my patience hat and take passionate professionals making a good film any day over sloppy semi-professionals who may be quick, but the quality of the work is waning. After all, making a good film is the goal, right?