I’ve said before that the day I stop learning is the day I stop creating films. No danger of that anytime soon, as I’ve been handed a plethora of lessons during the creation of Interglobal Trading Fund.
I wrote a piece a couple of weeks ago about the joys – and the challenges – of writing with a partner. I thought that my lessons ended there. I can assure you they did not.
I’ve worked with G for a year now. I’ve directed him in six episodes of They Live Among Us. Together, we’ve created an adventure/reality show with 8 seasons of programming, a one hour cable drama with season one fully plotted, a handful of short scripts… and Interglobal Trading Fund. Most of the above since January; we’ve pitched to some amazing people, and we’ve worked our pitches and scripts over and over again, usually into the wee hours of the morning.
But ITF was the first time that we produced something together. Our baby was about to be born.
Pre-production is like labor. It is painful as hell. ITF was no exception.
We had worked so hard to craft ITF into something very, very special. We both had a look, a shared vision, of what our little world was going to be. We had spent countless hours planning, discussing, going over images. I dreamt at night of imagery systems – of mirrors, reflection, glass… and images of imprisonment and containment. The world around me was a grainy blue-gray – and it was thrilling, for ITF is more than a cool little tale about a time traveling hitman. It’s a story of a man struggling to find himself. The anti-heroe’s journey.
Usually, when we’ve had something ready to launch, we are on top of each other 24/7. I become a fixture at his place; we sprawl out and get to work. I fully expected for this to happen again… but it didn’t. Life is what happens when you make plans, and plans had changed.
I found myself alone, working in solitude. Meet, meet, then go home and hit the pages. We had been having some problems that were interfering with my directorial duties. I had yet to create a shot list.
Little changes began to happen. I had to fight for cast. I felt cut out of the design loop. Still more problems in other areas that were eating my time – time that needed to be devoted to film direction. New dialogues were happening – thoughts and things that had never been applied to our project suddenly became de rigueur. I was perplexed. A vague unease began to consume me. And then, a prop appeared. The unease turned to panic. I felt that the project was being hi-jacked.
I pride myself on my communication skills; I am a very direct person, and am highly proactive. I don’t understand those who are not. I don’t like to pussyfoot around.
And so, did I communicate what I was feeling?
No. I did not. Instead, I shut down. I swallowed my feelings; I smiled a lot and said “Fine,” when really I wanted to say “No.” The dream project that I had so looked forward to, this piece of heaven that G and I had created, the creative time I had anticipated, was eroding into a nightmare. I was hurt. I was confused. Where was my partner? Why weren’t we working together like we used to?
I had never felt so alone and miserable in my life.
I’ve said before that a partnership is like a marriage. Never were words more true… and our honeymoon was suddenly over.
And that is how I found myself in a Denny’s in Santa Monica a couple of days after our own clash of Titans. G had texted me and asked to meet him before we met for another meeting. My stomach was in knots. We were going to get oral. Time to talk things out.
Another moment of misery. I watched G as he began to speak… and I realized how terribly my friend had been hurt. How? I stopped trusting him, and because of that, I chose to not communicate. I created conflict where there was none… and when I pushed him hard enough – he pushed back, and I felt attacked… Oy. It was a merry-go-round spun out of control.
Flash forward. We’ve wrapped ITF, and are the proud parents of a beautiful baby pilot, now on its way to post. Production went down without any of the drama experienced during TLAU. Every frame was a painting, G, the cast and crew were stellar in their work, and all is now well. We’re still working together. We survived this impasse and our partnership is stronger. We know what to do next time.
The other day, I said “Sorry if I freaked you out a bit.”
“Yeah,” G said. “I’ve never seen that side of you.”
“Neither have I,” I admitted. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay,” he said. “I knew you just needed to get on set.”
“So how was it?”
Lessons in Film (and life):
Communication is key. Never shut down. Always keep the door – and the conversation open.
Trust is a must. I have G’s back – and he has mine. Never forget that.
Forgiveness is essential. We’re both intelligent, passionate, driven people. We’re human. Now and then, we’ll fuck up. As long as we communicate, all will be well.
Now, go write.
HRH, Princess Scribe