Saturday, 2 January 2010

Chatterton is almost complete!

In the last week Jay has sent me first cuts of the sound mix and animation sequence for Chatterton, officially earning him Batman status for working on my film, surviving finals and the holidays, and applying to grad school all at the same time. I'm hoping to visit Baltimore next weekend to wrap everything up. Some of the film festivals I'm sending it to have ambiguous warnings against submissions with "internet distribution," but I say, screw it, they can't stop me. I'm posting the film online because so many people have helped and supported me throughout the entire process that I want every one of them to be able to enjoy it and share it with their friends.

Last May, a few weeks after graduation, I felt a little lost, wondering what to do with all the passion I felt for art, when I had to get a job, pay my bills, and be a responsible person. So I started writing a story about four kids caught in that decision - four artists who aren't quite put together. As soon as I finished, I knew I absolutely had to create this film, so for the next two months I did everything I could to gather all the pieces I needed - I wheedled friends into acting and crewing for me; I borrowed equipment from my old school, from a professor and from former classmates; I bought a month of weekends in my friends' apartment with a few six-packs and a smile. I thought of everyone I knew who could do something special, and asked them to help - help make costumes, take pictures, decorate sets, manage production, light scenes, run lines, animate, record sound, become the world's only Human Steadicam, drink beer and stand around charmingly in a party scene, keep my head from exploding.

Then, in September, to my overwhelming wonder, I succeeded in shooting an entirely independent short film - on time, on budget, and directly within my vision for it. Up until the last hour before I left for Baltimore on the evening before the first shoot, I was still unconvinced that it would actually happen. But each day we worked, I grew more confident. Each day convinced me that this - filmmaking - was the thing that I am strangely built for.

It was hard - we started shooting only a few weeks after I began my new full-time job. For three weekends, I ran myself down until I was sick with exhaustion, then came to the office on Monday. And then for three months after that, I juggled my new life in DC with visits to Baltimore to edit the film - weekends that were always too short to do all the work and see all the friends I wanted to see. I invariably caught a train several hours later than I had planned on returning home on Sunday, and nourished a tidy little caffeine addiction.

But my friends worked just as hard, giving up days and weekends during a busy semester, generating their own creative work to contribute, and giving me a more objective eye on my own work. Every effort they contributed was a vote of confidence in me and my vision, and it inspired me to work even harder. It's been half a year now - ending in a new year - and I can barely believe it's almost over, something like the feeling of unreality when we finally started shooting. I'm incredibly proud of us. And I can't wait to start the next one.

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