Twelve years ago I was sitting on my couch with a buddy watching a DVD of the latest blockbuster movie I had rented from my local Hollywood Video. Millions of dollars had been spent on the movie and it was astounding just how bad the movie was. I turned to my friend and declared that I could write a better movie. He turned to me and asked “why don’t you?”
His question seemed more to me like a challenge. It prompted me to get off of my ass and do something with my life. I had spent ten long years in retail and hated every second of it. That moment I decided that I would make a movie at any cost.
Fear of the Dark was released in 2001. This year marks its tenth anniversary and I find myself in an all too familiar place. I’m sitting on my couch critiquing the latest blockbuster movie that’s streaming through NetFlix on my XBOX 360 while chatting with my buddy in a virtual movie theater. So many things have changed in the last ten years. iPods, smart phones, 3D TV. Hollywood Video has since closed its doors.
I remember when shooting a movie on DV was a big deal. DV cameras revolutionized the industry for independent filmmakers. Now you can’t find a DV camera in stores anywhere. They have all been replaced by high definition hard drive and smart card based video cameras that are a fraction of the cost of what I paid years ago for my camera. Filmmakers are making movies using DSLR cameras that rival the quality of 35mm film. 3D consumer video cameras are on the horizon and the first consumer 3D video editing applications are already available.
I can’t tell you how much money was spent marketing my movies at conventions. With the social media revolution, filmmakers have a whole new means of free marketing at their disposal. It’s an exciting time to be a filmmaker but the industry is more competitive now than ever. Everyone under the sun with a camera seems to think they are a filmmaker. The market has become flooded with independent movies both good and bad.
I say good-bye to my buddy online and flip off the XBOX and TV. The screen goes dark and I wonder, “What next?” It’s been six turbulent years since I wrapped my last movie and it has yet to be released. I’ve dabbled with HD filmmaking and freelanced over the last few years but none of it has quelled the longing to be back in the saddle and behind the camera shooting a new feature.
I look around me and see a world that seems to be spinning separate from where I stand. I look at friends of mine that work in the business and marvel at their achievements. They have all chosen professions different from mine. Being a filmmaker is an enormous undertaking so very different from someone who just shows up on set to do their part. When the production ends for everyone else it’s really just beginning for the filmmaker. The last film took a heavy toll on me and tainted my view of the industry. It made me really question if I ever wanted to make another movie but I’m an addict longing for that fix, the pure adrenaline rush. Making movies keeps me sane.
In just a few months I’ll be turning 40. The question nags at me more than ever. “What next?” I don’t think I could manage to budget a movie on my own again. There are more avenues for funding available than ever before. I have several ideas for projects that seem larger than life to me. This new decade is full of possibilities.
It seems like a million years ago since Fear of the Dark, when my adventure first began. Once the door closes on my last project it will end a decade’s worth of drama. “What next?” It roars in my ears as I sit in silence.