Just relax and enjoy the process. That is the motto I have been saying over and over in my mind these past few months. As we embark on our 7th feature film, I have learned that things don’t get easier. The process is always challenging as you begin to cast and crew up for a film. In the past, I would stress out about everything, and lose my cool when things were not going our way. Now, many years later and many movies released into the world, I have finally begun to realize that all I can do is relax and trust in process. Sometimes I will have my heart set on a certain actor and can’t imagine anyone else playing that role, and the actor drops out. I feel devastated and disappointed, and feel like the project won’t be the same. And you know what? The project won’t be the same, but when we replace them it’s usually better. It all turns out better than I could have imagined.
Our budgets have remained in the ultra low threshold and every time we start a film we know we are going to have to make offers that are much lower than most crew would receive on a major motion picture. It always stings when I make an offer to a crew member and they come back with a cruel comment or are dismissive of my project. I always reassure them we are not hiding money, it’s just that we are working with small budgets; and doing the best we can with what we have. I have developed some tough skin over these last few years. The insults affect me less; because I know we will find the perfect crew person and actor for the position that is meant to be a part of our film.
It has always worked out in the past, it’s nice to be able to relax and finally enjoy the process. The process is such a sweet part of the journey, and looking back I realize I was missing out on such a lovely part of the filmmaking quest, when I was so wrapped up in the stress and worry of everything falling apart. I am so grateful that I have a partner who is steady, patient and calm. He keeps me grounded when I go crazy and become scattered with nerves that everything will just fall to pieces in the middle of the project. I have tried to mirror his calmness and take heed to his advice.
Last year when we were in pre-production on our teen girl comedy “Switched”; We held a casting session with over a dozen actresses. We chose our favorites and held call backs and chemistry reads for the two stars of the film. It was very important to do chemistry reads for our film, since the girls switch bodies and have to play each other in the movie. After carefully consideration we chose our two lead girls. They worked beautifully together and we fell in love with both of them. Two weeks from the day of filming, both actress’s pulled out of the project. This left us feeling devastated and scrambling to figure out what to do next. Thank goodness we had brilliant casting directors working hard to solve the problem. We found two incredible young actresses’ almost a week before filming was to begin. Now that the movie is in post production, I can’t imagine any other girls but these girls to play our lead characters in “Switched”. It was all meant to be. These women were meant to be in our movie. Not only were they a dream and a joy to work with everyday on set, but they brought the most incredible performances to life. I’m so thankful we had these actresses.
This is just one story of hundreds of stories of things we thought were a disaster that became a blessing in the movie making process.
So my biggest advice is to relax and trust the process. Most importantly enjoy the filmmaking journey every step of the way; because you will never be in that moment on that film ever again. Savor it.