I’m just going to go ahead and answer that question right away: There is no difference.
They are crazy people. I mean they’re insane. If you asked any independent filmmaker on the face of this planet whether or not they love their job they will reply with a nervous “I DO, I LOVE MY JOB.” answer and they will do it without blinking – because they’re jacked up on coffee.
Ok, that may be a little extreme but if you have accomplished the task of even making one short film you’d understand what I’m talking about.
I remember back when I was about to finish high school and naturally, thought the next step was to go off to university. I didn’t want to do that though. I was sick of studying and I wanted to work in film, which isn’t practical. But there’s this kind of pressure we all get and it goes a little something like this:
“What am I going to do? I have to decide soon or I may miss out on the opportunity to make something of myself. My parents want me to be a doctor, but I’m not sure if I want to make that kind of commitment… I liked film class. I know, I’ll give filmmaking a try….”
In my head it was a little bit like ‘settling’.
I know now that filmmaking is not settling.
Don’t settle for filmmaking. You’ll regret it. It’s not settling, it’s a death sentence. Turn back now.
If making money is on your mind then try accounting or creating your own brand of donuts instead.
Some people may not understand the cost of becoming a filmmaker, but if you do decide to take that step into the snake pit, I’m just warning you, you will not always be taken seriously.
You will be told lovingly by close friends or relatives that maybe you should step out into the ‘real world’ and get a ‘real’ job so you can make money and provide for your family.
“The arts aren’t really much of a contribution to society wouldn’t you think? I mean it’s great that you want to make movies but I think it’s time to come back down to earth now.”
It’s ok. They mean well. If they’re words aren’t convincing enough then be aware, it will get harder… and then somewhere along the line, we reach a point of crazy that becomes ‘legit filmmaker’, and then we accept it, and then we love it, and then we hate it, and then we realise it’s our calling and will do almost anything to make these crazy dreams into an even crazier reality.
Something, somewhere along the way seems to have convinced us independent filmmakers to make the unforgivable decision to actively go insane and attempt to turn crazy, fictional fantasies into bad quality entertainment for people who don’t even notice how much effort went into that one steadicam shot that we’re kinda proud of.
But, that one steadicam shot gave us a unique experience, and that ounce of pride was enough to give us the energy to do it again – but better.
Sometimes the only way to explain why filmmakers go into all the effort to accomplish something great, which the audience may not even notice the first time is to say they are crazy.
In Alfonso Cuaron’s “Children of Men”, there is a scene with 5 actors who are conversing in a car, which eventually turns into a full on action sequence as they’re chased down by a mob.
The whole scene was accomplished in one shot with the camera moving seamlessly throughout the car. Without any explanation the shot seems simple enough and there’s a good chance you wouldn’t think much of its complexity. However, it is incredible, with some incredibly complex thinking outside the box in order for the scene to be successfully accomplished.
The actual car, after it was rigged with all the necessary equipment, had a separate section for the real driver in the front, and on top – in their own section – seated the director, the cameraman, his focus puller and a producer. The way they came up with this idea involved lots and lots of thinking outside the box. They intended on filming the whole scene in one shot but refused to include a green screen so it would feel as authentic as possible. Although there would have been an insane amount of hard work involved, the end product was something beautiful.
There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes in order to make a film look anywhere between ‘normal life’ and ‘amazing beauty’.
Most of our hard work as filmmakers is not seen, meaning we work hard for little recognition, and then we work even harder next time.
The harder we work towards something that could be considered unimportant on the surface, the more rewarding it will be when we’ve accomplished what we set out to achieve.
As a filmmaker I’ve come to realise this job is not what you would consider normal. There’s no ‘go to work at 9am, finish work at 5pm and go home to be with your family’ type of security. Only a crazy filmmaker would be ok with this type of ‘lack of security’.
So, I must be crazy, and I can’t even feel my face sometimes…but I love it.
So what is a filmmaker? They are someone who is ok with an unsecured job. They know their hard work will not even get noticed about 98% of the time. They’re someone who knows that having to sacrifice comforts in order to fulfill a broader picture is worth it.
Because it’s a passion. It’s a calling. Even when they want to rip out their hair and then cry in a corner they know they’re supposed to be there. They know their passion surpasses the many inconveniences and rejections they suffer.
Filmmakers may be crazy, but it’s more of a ‘never give up’ kind of crazy. They are a rare breed who have a certain inner strength that cannot be explained.
Not only should we just accept that they exist and let them out of their cages but we need them.
Movies inspire people to be a part of changing the world. A recent film that inspired me, personally, was Lion. It brought to light many of the struggles children in India experience. It gave me more of a desire to see relationships restored, and I was inspired to know how I might be able to actually become a part of the restoration in others’ lives.
Movies impact our lives and educate us on other cultures and perspectives beyond our own.
They’re not just entertainment and filmmakers aren’t making films because it’s fun, they are dreamers who have somehow figured out how to speak to people through art.
Art by crazy people.
If you’d like to see an example of art by some of our own crazy people, have a look at ‘Is Filmmaking Worth It?”
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