If you’re reckless enough, you’ll get what you asked for. I’ve deceived you all.
First off I want to preface that I’m going to talk about the beauty of this journey and all the spectrum of emotions I’ve gotten to feel along the ride too. It’s not gloom and doom. Not at all. Just a chance to be a bit vulnerable and genuine, which is why I started this blog in the first place.
I’ve talked at too great of lengths about these first couple months I’ve been in Georgia. All the work I’ve done, all the friends I’ve made. I’ve done you a disservice by not being honest about the darker side of the achievements I’ve made thus far. There is no Light without Dark. I’m going to address some of that darkness.
I like a 12 hour day. It feels clean. It feels right. I think I’m thankfully the type of person whose energy level and brainpower were designed to be parsed out over long hours. I also hate the joy I feel from a 12 hour day. Do you know what you can do in 12 hours? I mean, besides shoot 6 pages of script? In 12 hours of day I could probably paint all of the walls of a one story house. In 12 hours I could drive the 750 miles to Chicago and order a deep dish pizza. In 12 hours I could almost watch all of Sergei Bondarchuk’s “War & Peace”, TWICE. Think of all the relationships you could repair with twelve hours. All the things that have sat on your to-do list for weeks on end that could be checked off. With a plane ticket in hand, 12 hours can take me to the other side of the world, somewhere abouts Warsaw, Poland.
Sometimes I feel gross about the concept of a 12 hour day, regardless of how it makes me feel to do them. You’re not awake at home the other 12 hours of a day. When I do a 6-day week onset with 12 hour days, how much time do I get with my family? 6-8 hours if I’m lucky. To say nothing of the fact that on the 7th day, I’m also recuperating from the other 6. And prepping myself for 6 more. My daughter grows a mile every time I come home. It’s beautiful and painful, to think of all these moments I miss. What will her memories of her father be? I try to answer that question every morning when I wake up. I make the moments count. But will the moments I’m not there mean more than the ones I am?
I’ve always loved the process of making a movie. It was fun at 15. It’s still fun at 25. But there’s been an evolution in that experience for me. For a long time I did the work for myself. The most fun part of making movies used to be what I’d get out of it; knowledge, experience, clout, resume-building, all of that. And now the most fun part of making movies is what I am able to give. The joy comes from showing up for others, and investing myself in their experience and well-being. It’s a fabulous journey from inward result to outward focus. To fall in love with the progress and not with the process. Our collective progress.
I spent March working virtually nonstop. I had fun, for sure. Good memories to be had with good people. But there were a lot of moments where I questioned why I subjected myself to so much toxicity in this line of work, and why I took certain gigs at all. I’d become disillusioned and more than a bit burned out by the end of March. I’d read some comments on “Crew Stories” about people who left after they felt burnt out and never regretted it. I for a moment had a thought that that could be me. Maybe I wasn’t meant to be in this work after all. Maybe the best thing for me was to run in the opposite direction of where I was going.
I got a break finally. A week before my next gig, which would last all of April. I needed the recharge. I needed the family time. The brain time. The catch up on my to-do list time. A reminder that life was about balance. Something I constantly find myself in lack of. My work is not my life. My work is an expression of my emotions and my desire to feel useful to those around me, and to work alongside others in meaningful ways. But I am not my work, my life is not my work. I’d gotten too comfortable with work being my life for a second, and surprise surprise, it coincided with a time where I also felt the worst about the work. If work is your life, and you don’t like the work, you don’t like your life. It’s a gruesome cycle.
But, I’ve had a beautiful first week on this feature that I think my soul needed, to be reminded of the great love I carry for this work. For a million reasons, week 1 on this project has been one I hope I don’t ever forget. Or at least, don’t ever forget how it’s made me feel.
Last night, I stood in the driveway of the home we were shooting at. You could faintly hear the wimpy purr of the put-put generator somewhere out on the street in front of me. The rest of the cast and crew were inside finishing the last few shots of a scene. I was babysitting my camera, which was on the jib in front of me. I looked up at the stars. I can’t say why, but they felt especially beautiful. I allowed myself a moment to just, feel, I guess. I thought of all the great memories I’d had the last few days. I thought of how in awe my 15 year old self would be of my 25 year old self. I thought of all I’ve ever wanted in life, and how much of it I’ve already had. I thought of friends. Best friends. My soul friends, people who I love so so much. I thought of the power of the fact that I could be anywhere at that moment, even in Warsaw. But that I was here, underneath this sparkling sky, a stones throw away from love and fulfillment, awash in the beauty of finding the beauty wherever you’re planted. I could do nothing but smile and cry. There was never such a peace. The only urge I had was to go inside and hug as tightly as I could, and tell everyone that I loved them. The slowly-growing wall of jade(d) that had been forming was gone now. All I could muster was optimism and hope. I politely stifled the hugging urges and instead settled for just feeling thankful. We finished the night not too much later, and hung out around the truck, toasting our hard lemonades. I could’ve lived in that moment for a long time. I think the impermanence of these moments is what keeps them in a special place in your heart. Every good must be cleared away to make room for a new good.
This work is rough. I’m not home enough. I constantly feel like I lack the time to be there for people. I space on simple things. My body regularly feels like I lost a bar fight last night. I’m always anxious about the next gig. I have doubts about whether I’m a good father. The work at times consumes me up, and leaves nothing left of me for those in my life. These are all realities. Constant realities, constant struggles. Inner conflict can plague quiet moments. There is no certainty.
There is also the other reality. The beautiful one. The one where 12 hour overnights become a celebration filled with playful banter and free flowing alcohol. The one where you meet the people you would die for. Or more readily, suffer through hellfire for. Where the bonds forged in those sweat-stained, profanity-laced shitshows become so strong that time itself cannot crack them. You can’t beat the energy and aura of an army of people coming together day after day to tell a story. The work is beautiful. The people you work with are beautiful. The stories you tell are beautiful.
Light & Dark are not sworn enemies. They’re the best of friends. Each bringing out the best in the other. Darkness lacks context without the light. Light lacks purpose without the dark.
I’ve come to believe in this, to try and remind myself of this. The journey is full of both. At different times, different ways, I get them both. All that means is that there is a progress. Something hopeful to keep holding onto. I’m still holding onto it, for dear life.
I read a quote recently, which really touched me that I’ll leave you with today;
Do Good, Recklessly.