The Oddness of Choosing to Make Films

As I sit in here in my room, gazing around at the obscure selection of objects that surround me on all sides, a question starts to form in my mind: How on Earth did I get here?

I see a startlingly realistic-looking beretta on top of my printer, casually resting upon a varied selection of DVD’s, some of them ‘rom-coms’. At a distance one might have no idea that the thing is in fact made of cheap and hollow plastic. In the far corner stands my latest financial triumph; the discovery that my £12 microphone stand can be cannibalized and extended to act as a perfectly functional boom-pole, thus saving me something in the region of £80 by avoiding the purchase of a similar-looking stick that has ‘boom pole’ written on the box instead. Naturally the construction has remained erect and proud for all to see since this revelation.

To my right is a box filled with half-painted Nerf guns. Although it is simply more efficient for paint-drying to stack them in a neat little row, the effect does rather create the impression of an armory. A roll of green cloth for chroma key work leans against the wall behind it, alongside a plastic sniper rifle that still needs to be aged before it will really cause some panic and alarm.

The front of my wardrobe is home to various costumes and outfits, none of which are for me. The desks are strewn with business cards, film-theory books, drafts of screenplays and my white clapper-board, still bearing the scene details from my last shoot. Wherever flat surfaces are not taken up with filmic paraphernalia, you will find mugs of half-forgotten tea or coffee, and empty bags of various forms of crisp. Of course this is after a busy week and these sorts of ornamentations are not permanent fixtures, yet they are telling of a distinct requirement of caffeine and stimulus for the persons who reside within.

And of course it’s not just a matter of what I find in my room that causes me to reflect upon the oddness of what my day to day life has become; it seems that shopping is a forever-changed phenomenon for me now too. Last week I ordered 2 props for my upcoming project, both of which were for separate scenes and had nothing to do with one another. They were: a military-style training knife… and a first aid kit. It caused me to wonder if Amazon had an order flagging system that drew attention to suspicious purchases, much like a store clerk might do if you tried to buy black paint, balaclavas and toy guns – Which, incidentally, I have done.

It’s the same logic that causes me to announce loudly at the checkout that I am a filmmaker, which is why it’s perfectly reasonable for me to buy BB’s, bio hazard suits, goggles and a hefty wooden mallet in one transaction. And I say so, even when nobody asks.

When my friends who went to University to study sensible subjects tell me about their experiences with science, English, law or their now successful careers with well-respected companies that contribute greatly to the function of society, I tell them that I spent the week running around with a camera whilst my cast act around invisible lightning bolts that will be added in later. Whilst doctors cure people of diseases, I ask actors to say and do stuff dramatically whilst I poke a camera in their face.

When I go on days out to stunning landscapes I can’t help thinking ‘this would be an excellent location for a film’. Whilst people buying a car comment on the comfort within and the smoothness of the ride, I bounce in my seat to better test its suspension capabilities as a rather expensive tracking dolly. When I’m at the supermarket, picking up the week’s shopping, I’m making a mental note of the best foodstuffs that can be bought in bulk to feed my cast and crew when we’re next out on location.

Everything I do and everything I see now seems to be in support of my career as a filmmaker.

When I was younger and wanted to be a writer, I filled my life and my room with a bizarre and eclectic mix of pictures, ornaments and general oddities. I did this for inspiration, and also because I wanted it to reflect my chosen career path.

Now, in a life surrounded by all these strange and wonderful things, I reflect that not a single thing I see before me was chosen. Instead of being surrounded by a sea of ornaments, deliberately placed for their representation of my psyche, I am surrounded by the tools that have simply become necessary as I have progressed through my day.

Not a single thing is reflective of me, ‘the person’. However, I think they are far more telling of the life I lead, despite the supposed lack of personality to them. The editing desk surrounded by caffeinated beverages is far more expressive about my day than a meaningful painting or a provocative and powerful sculpture.

I think the oddness of choosing to make films is that, for me at least, my personality is expressed in the films I make, not in my home. The personality that can be seen in my home, is a result of all the behind the scenes junk that is in support of these films. If you took them away, I daresay my house would be empty. Just like if you took away my films my life would be empty. There really is no way to half-arse it. The oddness of choosing to make films is that you become a filmmaker and that part, it seems, chooses you.

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