By Scott Shaw
As most of the people reading this blog know, I’ve made a lot of movies. Whether or not the people reading this blog have seen any of them, well that’s a different story…
People often ask me, (because I’ve made so many films), “How long does it take you to make a movie?” The answer is, I have it down to a science. If I have a location, a cast, and a crew, I can shoot a movie in a couple of days, have it edited, and sound tracked in a week or so. So, within a month, the whole film can be in the can. And, in some cases, already released.
The reason I can do this is that I do everything. I do not delegate the jobs. I always have ideas, my equipment is ready to go, I am always working on new soundtracks, and I keep my software for editing functional and up to date.
The problem is, the devil is in the details, as the old saying goes. Ever since 9/11 it has become more and more difficult to find free locations to shoot at. Everybody thinks that you are up to something bad if you show up with a camera. And, you do get shut down. So, my lack of locations, in recent years, has truly hindering my filmmaking.
An ideal and somewhat amusing example of this happened to me when I went to shoot some stock footage in the L.A. Harbor. I didn’t even have a cast or a crew. I was by myself. I was grabbing some shots and The National Guard drove up and before I knew it I was in those plastic handcuff things. I thought I was on my way Gitmo. They were telling me, “We are at war...” Luckily, they checked me out and figured out I was cool, no threat, and just a filmmaker. They let me go with just a stern warning.
The other problem is, as I have detailed in so many articles and books, here in L.A., everybody thinks that they are going to be a star tomorrow. And, this mindset has continued to get worse. So, there is a lot of misplaced ego floating around.
This is not just the case for actors and actresses, as you may expect, but for crew, as well. I cannot tell you how many times I have had an entire shoot day ruined by the cameraman. Yet, they remain all full of themselves.
Though I am personally a very meticulous cameraman, as I appear in many of my films, I need someone to shoot some of the scenes.
From this, the question is often asked, “Why do I appear in many of my own films?” Again it goes back to egos.
With everybody thinking they are going to be a star tomorrow, you never know when somebody is going to get their panties in a bunch and walk off the set. With me in the film, I know I am going to show up and, therefore, can fix any problems with the story if some cast member leaves.
Outside of the industry, people don’t realize all of these subtle particulars. This is how producers get people to invest in a film. Because somebody doesn’t know what to expect, they expect nothing.
I know producers are always promising the investor everything: how much money they will make, how they are part of the greater good, how great the cast, crew, and director is. They are told they will get an executive producer credit and they pull out the checkbook. Everybody wants to be a part of the film industry, don’t they? But, these words are all bullshit. Nobody makes big money on little films. Well, at least not the investors. Maybe the distributors…
The whole essence of my filmmaking style, Zen Filmmaking, is freedom and art. It is about removing as many obstacles as possible from the filmmaking process. But, the unfortunate reality is that times have changed. So, I do not make near as many movies as I could. Or, as some believe, I should. And, it’s sad because all I need is place to shoot a film and a few competent and willing participants. I don’t even need or want money.
By the way, I never take money from investors. It just makes everything too messy...
So, you see, every realm of art has it problems and its own set of unique circumstance that keeps the artist from creating. How long it takes for me to make a film is not the issue. The issue is, do I have a place and a posse.
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Originally from the Scott Shaw Blog