I’m writing this in between High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) intervals on the treadmill. It’s been a day of to-do items and meetings, interspersed with half-hour breaks I’ve spent working on a trailer. I woke up at 11am but I’ll be working until three. Five months after filming Lily in the Grinder, it’s still in post-production.
This is life on a low-budget passion project, a day in a life of a gamble on a career.
But things are far different now than at a similar point in the evolution of my last short film Shabbat Dinner, two (two!) years ago. I’ve learned to take care of myself, so my manic schedule sits amid blocks of exercise, meditation, and good friends. We’ve learned to build as strong a team as we can within a tiny budget — a producer, composer, colorist, special effects intern, casting director, sound engineer. I’ve learned to continue developing other projects, continue meeting people, to not let this project swallow me whole. It’s a river, but it’s not the same river. You can’t step in the same one twice.
My tasks on this film: find a composer, string quartet, trailer editor. Legal paperwork. PR work, web design on three websites (old film, new film, portfolio), poster design. DVD design. Find a sound mixer. Keep all these processes running at once so that we don’t hit the completion of one only to find out another is holding up the process.
Tonight I just gave a friend some website help in exchange for poster design. A really cool friend of one of the candidates for composer really dug the film and wanted to help color it. Another friend’s intern is helping with a few effects shots. The film is piecemeal and far-flung — asynchronous collaboration.
At the same time the edit isn’t completely finished. At the same time I’m bidding for a few projects in the next few months. At the same time I’m applying for grants, submitting a rough cut of this unfinished film to major festivals, and trying to decide whether to move to San Francisco for a few months. As I jab these words into my critically-low-on-battery phone, I’m racing on a stationary bike for a minute, resting for two, and going again.
But it’s fun. And not the no-sleep-but-lots-of-coffee-wired-and-so-many-things-are-flashing-before-my-eyes kind of fun. Well-rested fun. Collaborative fun.
The next film will be harder but we will be more prepared. The next film will be bigger but the team will be too. The climb gets steeper but we get stronger, and we make more friends.