Day 2: Is it possible to have too much to create from?

Posted by on Jan 2, 2012

Day 2:  Is it possible to have too much to create from?

Day 2:  As I prep to start work this morning, I can’t deny how much I actually do have to create from—for my current project anyway.  1200 hours to be exact. Although I’ve made the primary purpose of this exercise in thinking outside the box inside the box to create from what I have about narrative film, the completion of my non-fiction movie has been creeping along at a snail’s pace for myriad reasons and languishing in postproduction purgatory in the process.  If the lumps and growths and curbs of the world don’t kill me, it just might.

One reason I’m fairly obsessed with giving expeditious, prolific creation from what I have a shot is because that’s the polar opposite approach I’ve taken with my current project.  I’ve spent the last four years and four months—and counting—on an independent, self-financed feature documentary that my partner and I shot 1200 hours of footage for between August 2007 and July 2008.  Who did we think we were?  Ondi Timoner?  It was an incredible experience—an intense, long, arduous journey with and through an amazing organization.  But now I know, once the production endorphins and sleep deprivation glow wears off, you’re left with a whack of raw material that is, ultimately, nothing, until it’s sculpted into something.  Neither my partner nor I could edit.  So, shortly after we wrapped production, we had to go back to work…work that involved a paycheck—a fairly common reality for indie filmmakers.  The glut of gorgeous images, heart pounding action, and mind altering moments sat, untouched, collecting dust.

1200 hours of footage

Initially, we spent the majority of our time available for the project searching and waiting.  Searching for and waiting on that well-known knight in shining armor who would gallop up on a stunning stallion carrying a big, fat, bag of cash and present it to us on a silver platter.  Said cash would enable us to staff up and have a proper post production team and finish our masterpiece in style.  Neither Arthur nor Sea Biscuit ever showed.  We came close but any deals we were offered never involved said fantasy sack of dough but they always involved, “Studio shall have full creative, financial, and business control in connection with the Project.”

 We simply couldn’t hand over the reigns to our 1200-hour baby to be raised by strangers…we’ll never know if we could have been bought because no one was trying to buy us.  After we said “no” to the latest limp deal in August 2010, I wallowed in self-pity and tended to my battered, broken grandiose ideas of what I thought was going to happen with our brilliant project for weeks.  I was stuck:  “Holy shit load of footage, no one is coming with the cash and without cash no one is going to do the work for me.”  Out of sheer desperation, I picked up the Avid manual from my partner’s Moviola editing class.  Always a pragmatic visionary, he’d taken the class a year earlier in order to learn how to edit so he could move the digitizing, grouping and syncing and assembly forward without always having to pay an editor, but he was slammed with that pesky paid work thing annoyingly necessary to buy food, clothes and shelter.  If we were ever going to have a completed film, I needed to get on the same DIY page.  Thus, I hunkered down into the wonderful world of Avid, taught myself how to edit and crept (not leapt) ever onward.

Well, here I am, four years and five months after we began shooting, three and a half years after we finished production, a year and four months after reading the Avid manual and still, no rough cut.  Instead of drinking and crying, not necessarily in that order, I’m thinking outside the box inside the box and shifting my thinking.  Staying motivated is the biggest challenge.  Luckily, my experiment in prolific creativity is electro shock therapy’ing me back to a motivated, inspired, creative, highly productive state!  It’s time to call in the Calvary.  It’s time to bring on a real editor and their team because for a producer who is a self-taught, shitty editor and an insanely busy partner, 1200 hours of footage really is simply too much to create from.  We can’t do it all by ourselves.  We need help.  I’m not going to sugar coat it, we don’t have the dough to pay anyone which means, it’s time to get creative with what we have.  That’s the plan for day 2.  I’m off to fire up the Avid and make some phone calls to editors!

Anyone else have any experiences with having too much to create from?  Or, when have you stopped yourself from creating because you were waiting for that knight in shining armor to show up?

Until tomorrow, create from what you have.

Kelli Joan Bennett is a filmmaker, actress, writer, entrepreneur, advocate for creative thinking and Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Think Outside The Box Inside The Box Media.

2 Comments

  1. Kelli,
    This is so great because it acknowledges that it’s okay to ask for help in creating from what you have. So often I feel like an island and that I have to do it all myself just because I don’t have the funds the hire it done in the way I want it done. It’s freeing to release some of the control to the experts too!
    Bravo!

    • Yes, exactly! Thank you, Cindy, for pinpointing such an important tenet and articulating it so well…in order to create from what I have, I will most certainly be asking for help.

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