Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Junkie

My father hounded me all through college to get a degree in business. He was a big believer in the idea that education brings financial success. As screwed up as it sounds, he wanted me to be a desk jockey. I could understand his reasoning, having spent most of his life busting ass twelve hours a day as a pipe-fitter. He thought he was doing me a favor, my dad; providing money so I could have the things I needed and wanted. He was getting money so I could go to college. The sad humor is that on the day I left for college my father and I looked at each other and realized we had no idea who the other was.

I left college in 1998 needing twelve credits to get my degree in theatre arts with a minor in communications. I "walked " with my class. It was time for me to go though. I had already been there five years, and even just one more semester seemed unbearable. Besides, since then I've gone back and finished up the twelve lousy credits and from a career standpoint, actually having the piece of paper in my possession has changed absolutely dick.

Anyway, I got a job with a temp agency, and they landed me a long term gig with an up and coming software company. I was a go getter. I've kind of always been a go getter, which tends to impress those with authority over me. The kicker is I've always hated authority. I'm an idealist sure, but with the heart of an anarchist. Still, I'm a hard worker. That's one of the things my dad did teach me.

So, when the term of the temp job was up, the guys at this software company liked me so much they offered me a regular position. It was a salaried job with great benefits: health, dental, 401k, the works. All I could do was go up. My dad was ecstatic. I took the job.

After six pretty miserable weeks, I quit. I went into my boss's office, and told him exactly how I felt; that while I appreciated the opportunity he was giving me, it wasn't for me. I had other things I needed to be doing, other paths I needed to walk. "I'm not a business guy," I said. Anti-authoritarian to the bone, I think I expected him to chew me out and be shocked that I was turning my back on what was really a pretty damned good job. He didn't though. In fact, he told me how much he respected me for following my heart.

My dad said nothing when I told him, just kind of shook his head.

The ultimate irony is that the past year I've spent putting together Women's Studies has been more about business than any sort of creative expression. Forget the business degree, I think I've learned what I would have been taught simply by trying to make a go of this thing.

Rather than even doing basic production work like scheduling and loaction scouting, my time has been spent writing business plans, researching the DVD market, setting up corporations, drafting contracts, working with a lawyer to make sure all my state and federal paperwork is correct, weighing the ton of risks against the ounce of hope, and about a thousand other minute detailed things that have nothing to with telling a story. Unfortunately, they have everything to do with making a marketable film. My life is a world of crunching numbers, begging for money, wheeling and dealing, trying to turn "no" into "yes." Hell, even "maybe" would do.

And you know what?

I fucking hate it.

The last six months of my life have been the most soul sucking, humiliating, ego-crushing time I've ever endeavored. I wake up every day and my first registered emotion is uncertainty. My first conscious thought is, "Why am I doing this?" Half the time I feel physically ill. The other half I think I'm losing my mind. A day doesn't go by that I don't want to quit. Nor does a day go by when I know I can't.

I can't. I mean, I physically can't stop myself from trying to move forward. If I walk away, even take a vacation, I somehow find myself turning the film over in my head: "What if I change this line? What if I shot it this way? Maybe Mary should wear yellow in that scene. Music like this would go well in this sequence."

Making movies is all I want to do. It's all I've ever wanted to do, since I was old enough to want anything. If there was a company that hired for "professional dreamer," I 'd be perfect. Experience? I've been doing it all my life. But if you won't hire me to do it, I'll do it anyway. That the sickness of it I think. Even when everyone is telling me the odds are impossible, I still do it. Even when it seems like trying to scale Everest in shorts and flip-flops, I still keep climbing.

A guy I've been hounding to invest in Women's Studies recently said to me, "If persistence leads to success, you're going to be successful." A compliment sure, but I don't think he understand the scary truth beneath it, the reason why I'm so persistent.

I'm a junkie, man.

Creative expression is an addiction. Filmmaking is my drug. I'm just trying to get another hit. Addicts do whatever it takes to get their high. They beg, steal, and sell themselves. Telling a real estate agent how much Dark Harvest made in it's first month on the Blockbuster shelves? That's just me sucking dick in the alleyway for a ten spot. See, a ten spot brings me closer to getting the junk. I'm an addict, remember? Only the camera's my needle, the boom mike my spoon, and the tungsten lights my flame.

Ask any addict busted for stealing, and he'll tell you he didn't do it for the money. The money is just a means to an end. The money just gets him to the high. "I can't help myself," he'll say.

"I just don't know how to quit."

1 comment:

Melisa said...

Isn't everyone involved in this industry just an addict? I've been told many times most actors don't make a living from it, it's the hardest profession you can pursue and if you can imagine doing anything else, DO IT! The problem is, I can't think of doing anything else and I'm miserable doing anything else. When I'm on set, I could have 5 15-hour days in a row and be happy. Here at my current temp job, I'm here for 4 hours and I feel my soul slowly dying. So I'm a junkie right there with you.