Your 5-Year-Old Cannot Do This

Directing on the set of "The Cage"

Today I sent notes on a script to a young man who wants to be a writer.  He was a friend of a friend so I read every word of his epic piece that lost me on page 5.  It was a brutal read.  My notes were brutal as well, though I made them less about the script and more about the craft.  It is one of the oldest pet peeves I have and today it confronted me in a way that has my head spinning.

As a filmmaker, I get to endure the oceans of want-to-be filmmakers who have no respect for the craft.  Armed with their Apple computers and Best Buy camcorders they make “films” and create “production companies” like “Ryan Gates Productions.”  Sounds very important.  There are many out there that do the world of filmmaking proper via this process but the majority think making a film is just putting words to paper, getting a cast and crew, and slapping a camera in front of it.  Bullshit.  It pisses me off.  Just because you know how to type, own a camcorder, and have a Mac with editing software on it does not make you a director, writer, producer, or any other title in the film business.  Same thing goes for Kate’s career as a painter.  I can go buy brushes, canvas, paint, etc. and make a painting but does that make me a painter and an artist?  Being married to an abstract painter I am accustomed to hearing “my 5-year-old could do this.”  Yeah?  Could he conceptualize it?  Did he do it?  I could stand next to any Picasso painting and copy the brush stroke exactly onto my canvas till  they were the exact same painting – which one is art?  Why?  If you can honestly answer that you understand why I get so frustrated.

Advancements in technology have made the accessibility to cameras, editing gear, and other filmmaking tools available to almost everyone.  This is great and terrible.  It gives so many the opportunity to follow their dream while offers so many the false conception of being something they are not.  Its like American Idol.  There are like 10 singers out of all the auditions who are truly exceptional, 2-3 who have what it takes, and 1 that gets to be a star.  the other MILLIONS?!!!  Delusional.  I watch the finals of Idol cause that is when it is good: People with talent going head to head.  The auditions are insulting to singers.  This is how I feel about filmmaking.  So many people diluting the craft that mid-career guys like me have to work extra hard to remind the community that we are in fact the “real deal.”  AND THAT WAS WHEN MY HEAD STARTED SPINNING.

Can I honestly call myself a filmmaker anymore?  I have not made a film in almost 2 years.  My title reads “Director of Viral Marketing.”  I haven’t even worked on one of my scripts in 6 months.  What am I?  I am a marketing guy living in Wichita, KS.  My past is becoming distant.  People no longer remember my production work let alone my film work.  Stranger than that…I’m not sure I mind.  I miss it terribly but I wouldn’t trade it for the happiness I have found in my new chapter of life; being a dad.  I would sacrifice all my happiness and dreams to see my son succeed and pursue his.  I don’t feel like I sacrificed my dream, but I do feel like I cut it short…the question is how I will live and cope with that feeling.  As long as my son is healthy, my wife is painting, and I can help others pursue their dreams I know I’ll be good.

I’ve got some art left in me still – I will return to my craft.  This is a whole new kind of experience I am gaining and no…your 5 year old couldn’t do this.

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