tl;dr Let's celebrate next week?
It's my birthday, and I am sitting in an AirBnb in Los Angeles, copying footage off several RED cards and preparing for a long day of editing. I'm utterly exhausted and life is good.
Eight months ago, last October, I decided I had to quit film, or at least do it in a different way. Facing the difficulty of getting a movie made day after day had worn me down. And I'd found so many wonderful relationships which gave my life meaning. I had learned that external success was not what I really wanted; that winning an award would not materially change my life; and that in not so many years, like all of us, I will pass from this earth. I wanted to embrace presence, to find an environment less defined by hedonic treadmills, career pursuits, and consumption and sit in it. (Or just get a tech job and chill for a minute)
New Years came, and I decided that before I quit, I'd really, really, really give it a go. I embarked in earnest and with full dedication on the journey to make this movie. The first stop for the fundraising process was Puerto Rico, where I pitched person after person. After a long week conference-ing, I drove to the small island of Vieques, and sat alone on a beach for hours, bathing in a warm tropical downpour which soaked me to the bone.
Making an impact on this earth, both to improve it and to experience the act of creation, was something that compelled me. As did presence, a life lived not with an intent to grow into something else but to be. On that day I thought about which one to take, how to balance them. I would like to comingle them within one lifetime: that I would not allow the ravages of pursuit to separate me from the bliss of presence, quiet, or deep connection; and that I will always strive to do. That the two must be balanced, each having distance and space.
Making a movie is not a balanced life. It's a glimpse into madness. It's 15 hours days and wearing lots of hats and solving interdependent problems of overlapping scopes and scales and timeline with incomplete information. It's a beautiful collaboration process. We are a team, some of us full-time and others part-time; some with a clear role and some without. I am grateful for the wonderful collaborators
who have thrown yourselves into this, and happy to have had the chance to get to know you better: Reena, Diane, Eric, Jonas, Corey, Roxie, Chris, and so many others even at this early stage.
Last week was the hardest week, and this week rivals it. After two major parts of our process began to stutter early in the week, on Thursday, several key things that would influence the movie existentially were cancelled. We spent the day examining and rethinking our strategy, and decided to move forward. On Friday, we created and enacted a new plan, deciding to film a pitch video on Tuesday for our kickoff dinner on Thursday.
Reena, Eric, and I threw together a shoot in two days, hiring two actors, crew, and finding a movie theater in LA to film in. As the weekend ended, fires erupted in other parts of the project. I woke up Monday in SF with a sense of dread, and by the end of the day as completely boggled that all the fires seemed to have been put out.
I woke up this morning in LA, and directed the first half of the pitch video. At the end of the day, weary, I talked to the camera for three hours about the video. Tomorrow I'll edit it for Thursday's kickoff dinner. It's amazing what everyone pulled together.
I'm writing this because I want to explain to you all why I'm not in the Bay Area this week, why I probably haven't answered your message about what I'm doing for my birthday, and why I've been harder to reach and schedule time with recently. I also want to make clear that this is not a steady state. It's imperative to me that my relationships with the people I love remain, even if we have less time.
In brief minutes between work for this movie, I'm planning the next one, which (who knows if it'll happen) is designed to come out during the 2020 election. It feels important to me.
And I am committing to presence. I am committing to scheduling downtime with you all as well. I am always happy to hear from friends. Can we do something for my birthday next week?
Alright, off to sleep for hopefully 12 hours!
Edit: Slept for 11, that was rad.