This is more for me than for any of you out there, but I think that applies to a lot of what I write here. But I’m beginning with an introduction, as one does, a means of letting you know what the deal is with this piece. So here’s the deal:
I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING.
I know that I need to get away from the lowly part-time jobs I’ve been working for the past few years, but I don’t know what. So I’m figuring that out here. And maybe you’ll read about it. Otherwise, there are lots of great shows on television.
2. The Past
This isn’t the first time I’ve been here. I’ve had a lot of these experiences. Crossroads. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood/and sorry that I could not take both/I decided just to walk in the middle of them and make a new road” something like that. Somehow , though, these decisions keep getting harder. Maybe that’s experience. Maybe that’s neuroses. Probably its both. In the past these decisions have seemed clear. I was going to work hard through high school so I could get into a good college. I would go into film school because that was my dream and I needed to learn about film production if I wanted to pursue it. I wouldn’t look into graduate schools right out of my undergraduate degree so I could learn to freelance as my own filmmaker outside of school. I would move out of Santa Fe to Chicago because Chicago was a larger city with a lot of big productions coming through and a good independent film foundation so I would have no problem getting into the Union and working my way up.
These were all extensions of the central belief I’ve had that if I maintained a laser-focused goal of “Cinema Production” then I would be able to gradually achieve my dream of writing and directing film. What, exactly, was “Cinema Production”? That I kept open-ended: Grip, Art Department, Script Supervision, assistant directing, I could do anything so long as they needed it. The problem is that I honestly don’t know how to get into those positions without Union representation or internships.
There are a lot of things I don’t know. This is why I will no longer pursue “Cinema Production”
When I was in film school one thing became abundantly clear: I was an oddball. The people around me had been making movies since they were three, they lived and worshipped in movie theaters, they had already seen a thousand movies and written critiques for all of them. I was a theater kid who started making movies so that I could act more.
At least that’s the story I tell.
In truth, maybe I was meant for it. For one thing, in a market so drenched in cinephelia it was nice to be the person who has still never seen “Jaws” and doesn’t really mind it all that much. “I’d rather make a movie than watch a movie” was my mantra throughout film school. And film does hold a special place in my heart: I have a fond memory of my mother picking up my sister and I up from school early.
“We’re doing something special today, kids. Today we’re seeing Star Wars!”
It was incredible. Even more so because we didn’t see movies, especially “new” movies int he theater, all that often. But we saw all three of the Star Wars re-releases.
When I first began making movies it was also a joyous experience. Back then it was gathering a bunch of friends together and making something silly. Back then I didn’t have to worry about script themes, color schemes, character POV, 180 degree rule, 30 degree rule, canted angles, J-cuts, S-cuts, piece length, story flow, sound quality, mic positioning, color grade, and roughly one thousand and fifty-six other things. It’s not that this greater understanding detracts from my enjoyment of creating a film or from my ideas on film. In fact, I still very much enjoy making a movie and playing with a lot of these rules. However all of these worries makes the process much longer, much more complicated, and much more defendant on other people.
But I still want to make movies.
At least that’s the story I tell.
Before I was a filmmaker, before I was an actor, before I was a depressed waiter, I was a writer. I was a writer and a storyteller. I now wonder if I should have stuck with it longer. For some reason, even in college when most of my friends were in the Creative Writing Program, I didn’t think to pursue writing. Or rather, all my writing was done in script form. Now – and for the past five years- I’ve only been able to write, and I’ve expanded beyond scripts. Now pursuing writing short fiction and novels seems like something at least on par with my other wackadoo plans like continuing to make movies or go into voice acting. To be clear: I do not expect to be a great author or really any sort of author, but I feel it’s something I should try.
What then of writing? What then of telling stories? Answering the second question first: I’ll still tell stories. That’s something that can’t be taken away. So then that leaves us with writing and Plan B: Teaching. If I enjoy reading and writing so much, why not teach it? I was never very good at English during my school days, but what I’ve learned in my limited time as an unlicensed teacher is that not having been good in a subject may help you be a good teacher. The real question is: Is being an English Teacher something I would be passionate about? I don’t think so. Creative writing, and even word and sentence structure is something I’d be interested in. But reading through countless essays and reports? That seems like something initially tolerable – fun even- that would get very old very fast. So writing- my writing- I believe it’s time to expand outward and look for new outlets for publishing and distribution. Teaching English, though, is a “no”.
My mother is an Artist: Fine arts (always a strange distinction to make) and my Sister and I grew up with a whole bunch of Art projects. I myself wanted to be a cartoonist for a long time, and why I never pursued it is a whole other story, but now I no longer draw or paint, though I’ve done design work (as is witnessed on this very website) and some multi-media gallery work as well. So it is that I still consider myself an artist, and like being a storyteller this is something ingrained. At some point in my life I may have been able to have been swayed away, but that point would have been before I spent 4 years and a lot of heartbreak in Art School.
If I still consider myself an artist, then why don’t I become an Art Teacher? It’d be K-12, but that’s the [massive] range that I have experience in (OK, K-3 for teaching Minecraft and Lego robotics and 6-8 for teaching math, but….). Also, once I get a certification I’ll more likely than not be teaching in Chicago, and although it’s a lie that every school in Chicago is full of violence and crime, I’ve heard plenty of horror stories of schools in the far west side to fuel my mother’s concern for me going into urban education. But these horror stories are what keeps me interested in teaching Art, because after all Art is a way to channel energy and communicate ideas and come into self-discovery. This is something all kids need, in good schools and very much so in bad schools. And, yes, it will be difficult. Life is difficult. I believe this would make the difficulty worth it. Plus, with a Bachelor’s in Film and a teaching certification in Art I would still be plenty qualified if ever I came across any K-12 classes film classes, and maybe even some Community Colleges. So, all in all, I’d say that this sounds like a good plan. For now.
Lot’s has been said and many stories have been written. That’s why we have conclusions, though, to conclude. So here it is:
-The best course of action is to go and get my teacher’s certification in Art. Is it what I thought I’d be doing when I went to film school? Oh, God no. But I don’t mind it. In fact, I think it’ll be a good career. A trying one, a difficult one, an underfunded one, but a good one.
-I am not quitting making movie. Nor am I quitting writing, or improv, or voice acting. I will continue to do my art on the side as I have these past five/six years. But neither of those options are going to be paying my rent any time soon and it’s due at the first of every month.
– In another 5 years I will be wondering what I’m doing with my life. Again. After that? Maybe I’ll start selling used cars. Or open a Bead and Breakfast in the Upper Michigan Peninsula.
This is the story I tell.