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.
And then, another email came in. Someone had suggested [fill in the blank]. I reached boiling point. And that, dearest ladies and lords of the court, is when I released the Kraken.
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
That was scary. Once you released the Kraken I didn’t know what was going to happen. I am so glad this story has a happy ending. I love Hollywood. 🙂
Yes, it would be a shame for this to have turned into a twenty-hanky tragedy. 😉 Don’t ever want to go there again. Lessons learned!
It’s also worth noting that I, from outside the cocoon of your interaction but still closer than most to the production, didn’t see one bit of this impasse. Professionals don’t let these things fester and become bigger than the ultimate goal; and they don’t allow others to witness interpersonal – or “inter-creative” – problems, which might worry other people on the production or make the set an awkward place to work. From my (and others’) perspective, the ship sailed smoothly out to sea and back into port.
🙂 It had been all oralled out prior to production. 😉 But glad to know. I like to keep the drama on the screen, you know?
The benefit you two have as a partnership and what made your almost final product so great- is that ya’ll told each other the truth. It may have been in a round about way…but the fact is… you wouldn’t have what you have were it not for the tension. I think you two need to embrace the tension and recognize it as part of what of the birthing process. I really do believe this. Being insecure and not trusting each other when you are ‘naked’ in that creative kind of way is much more intimate then any other physical act between consenting adults. I do think your partnership has emerged stronger. If you can find a more subdued way to release the Kraken and still be Anne we all know and love… girl, you can rule the world!
Subdued Kraken… hmmmm…. 😉
if you hadn’t of released the Kraken, you wouldn’t have ended up with the final results. you know that! Blake’s all about the conflict being the character development tool….. but if you can control that slick beast… you’ve got it goin’ on!!! my friend who is a General in the Army… and I’ve watched his career reach this high level since he was just installed a Major… he told me that one of the things that makes him so successful in his career is that he never loses his cool… he actually becomes more and more calm when most people would become more and more loud. He made General “early” in his career by about 15 years for most people with his time in service… so that’s saying something… take a page from General Price!!!!
I tend to get really really calm under fire. This time, I did not. So yes, lesson learned!
I don’t know what the Kraken is, dude, but i think i have some communication lessons to learn from you.
Um, you owe me a phone call.