Thursday, June 05, 2008

I'm learning not to bite off more than I can chew

I've been super stressed this week. Ooof.

Yearbooks came out Tuesday. Yearbook Day consists of putting together a slide show and presenting it to the senior class, then giving out presold yearbooks, then selling yearbooks, then listening to every student in school tell me how much the yearbooks suck and how many things we got wrong. I tell my kids not to expect anybody to say anything nice about the book. Even if it's the most beautiful and comprehensive book ever made, all anyone will notice is that you misspelled Mr. Okuwoke's name on page 57.

But at least this year I didn't get an angry parent complaining to the principal ten minutes after the books appeared, so there's that.

In between yearbook and English class and having a social life, I've been trying to put together a shoot for The Corner, the boxing short film I've been in love with ever since I wrote it. My actors keep asking me when I'll be ready to shoot. People have been offering their crew services. Everybody wants me to direct this film.

But I don't want to direct it. I want to produce it. I don't have that director gene, that element in your personality that drives you to tell people what to do and accept no excuses. Sure, I manage a classroom, but in there it's a lot of negotiation, they're all younger and less experienced than me, and if they don't do their work it usually hurts only them, not the whole class.

Directing is different.

I never meant to direct Game Night. It just sort of happened. And on the set I felt lost. I only ever wanted to get all the talented people I know in a room and watch them work - I never wanted to tell them what to do once they got there. So on set I was relying heavily on help from people who knew what they were doing. Fortunately I had a great crew and terrific actors, but I can already tell that if I end up with some prima donna DP he'll walk all over me. Actors I get, actors I know how to talk to. The crew is a mystery to me.

I loved producing, though, so I want to do that again as much as possible. I'm the kind of producer who chooses you because I like your work, and when you step on set I'll trust you to do your funky thing with the script that I wrote. That makes me happy.

So a couple of weeks ago I asked Ex-Boyfriend if he wanted to direct The Corner. He read it and although he liked parts of it, he said it was too serious to appeal to his directing style. He prefers ridiculous comedies and straight-up action stories. So he won't be directing the film.

And I had kind of a mini panic attack, partly brought on by that being the moment I had a plumbing incident that resulted in a minor flood exploding onto my floor, but also because I suddenly felt convinced I would be forced to direct it because for this particular project I want to use someone I know and trust, not some random guy I picked up on Craigslist. This post is not about me looking for a director, either. It's just me venting my frustration and admitting that I'm not invincible.

But then after I mopped up my floor Ex-Boyfriend told me I needed to take the pressure off. I don't even have Game Night finished yet (3 weeks to a rough cut, swears my editor) so I'm jumping the gun on planning something that requires a boxing ring and a host of extras.

But I already promised my actors I'd have a part for them in September, I said. They'll all be so let down.

So let's make something simple instead, Ex-Boyfriend said.

And then I realized I had this 9 minute script I'd been trying to submit to student filmmakers. It's a script I wrote that's sort of like a darkly comedic Twilight Zone episode to involve two actors and one location and can be shot for hellacheap. All I need is a studio apartment, which I could probably replicate in a hotel room.

Even if Ex-Boyfriend doesn't want to direct it I think I could handle this project. It's simple, more like a project between friends. And the minute I realized that, my stress dissipated.

So The Corner is on hold for the time being. I will produce that script because I love it, but it won't be this year unless I suddenly come into a vast fortune. Instead I will be producing Guthrie, something much, much simpler and less likely to make me freak out.

I will update my sidebar accordingly soon.


  1. Anonymous12:02 PM

    If you really want the "director's gene", genetic biology can do wonders.

    And you made a boo boo, Emily: "and except no excuses."
    Typos have no place on the internet, silly. I demand a fix.

    Good DAY sir.

  2. Tease. What's Guthrie about?

  3. It's about a dude in a room who's afraid to go outside because he thinks monsters will get him.

  4. Guthrie's cool. I almost wonder why you didn't thinkof this earlier. Great idea.

  5. Sometimes I'm in a hurry to do things I'm not ready to do. And my actors really want me to make this movie so I kind of felt pressured to do it. I guess I needed someone to give me permission to ease up and do something less stressful before I felt comfortable letting go.

  6. Directing is tough! And I've only directed two student video shorts under ten minutes. It's definitely something that comes with practice. I feel too uncomfortable still, too put on the spot. But there is that tension, too, when the easiest way to produce is to do it all yourself - it's great that you've taken a more relaxing and realistic approach to it and *delegated!* : )

    Directors need producers. I know a lot of friends who would love to direct a short - but they need a motivator/producer.

  7. I've been wanting to direct a boxing film for a couple years now. When you decide to shoot The Corner, let me know.


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