A fellow filmmaker recently asked me how I was doing and when I mentioned that some things are “in the works,” he responded, “Yeah, well…. Hurry up and wait, huh?”
That phrase, “hurry up and wait,” has been haunting me all week. It gets to the core of what I loathe about filmmaking: our immense dependency on others. Even the smallest film projects rely on the commitment of others. Like kids on a playground before a game of kickball, countless filmmakers in Los Angeles are waiting around hoping to be a part of a team. It’s torture, discouraging, and demoralizing.
It really is a conundrum: while us filmmakers love to collaborate and need others to actualize our art, at the same time, we are at their mercy. It’s in the nature of what we do. I’ve often fantasized of being a lone pianist, photographer, painter, or poet, engaged in an art form where completion rests solely on my efforts, but I love to make films.
I’ve successfully counteracted the dependency dilemma by making short films that relied on a few people. However, when one’s project inherently demands substantial help from others, well, it’s hurry up and wait!
But then again, I doubt Spielberg has to hurry up and wait. Maybe that’s the key: the more of a success you are, the less you wait.
I’ll never forget the time I was in a mass of people swarming around the filmmaker, Werner Herzog. In the midst of the chaos, a 20-something kid battled the mob and stepped up to Herzog, begging: “Please, please. I’ll do anything you want, Mr. Herzog, if only I can have a chance to be on your set and learn.” I didn’t hear the filmmaker’s response; I was too stupefied by the desperation before me…