My dear friend John Wells is an exceptional talent. He battles some severe physical issues, is a highly regarded personal trainer and an indie film star. He should be doing a blog too, because so much of what he is currently dealing with is the same shit I have dealt with for more than 40 years.
In his latest Facebook post, John recounts the story of someone who recognized him from his movie work. Instead of praising John or acting with some semblance of APPRECIATION, the person told him to go:
“Get a job in a film LIKE Pirates of The Caribbean or some other big Hollywood film.”
Apparently, the misguided “fan” thought that John could instantly put himself in the office of Paramount studios, demand a starring role and end up on the shelves of Blockbuster the next week. God Bless you John, I would have kicked the jerk-weed’s teeth in.
It is amazing how people who are not in the business think they have it all figured out. As I have stated in past blogs, most people in the film business, unless they are top tier actors and producers, cannot live off of film work alone.
They have real day jobs TOO.
But even more humiliating, is the casual observer who thinks this “movie thing” is just a shit load of fun. Something we can just do on a weekend, and have finished by the following Monday. Believe it or not, it’s hard as hell to create a commercially viable work of art out of nothing. You can’t just pick up a camera, grab some buds, and shoot a good film on a weekend. Although, many thousands do. Unfortunately.
More aggravating, is working with actors who have no clue about the production process. On every film, I have actors who second guess me about everything from wardrobe, to character names, to shoot schedules. A lot of them, watch how I work, and decide that it’s “easy” and they will go shoot their “feature” as soon as my film wraps. In the many years I’ve done this, I have seen one of those “after films” actually get done, and none that have been commercially released.
This shit ain’t as easy as it seems.
One of my favorite incidents, is the time we were filming a project called ROOM 13. We had just wrapped the final shoot day, and one of the stars had the audacity to say this:
“William, for your next movie, maybe you can get some books on film making so you can know exactly what you’re doing NEXT TIME.”
I didn’t punch him in the mouth, but I probably should have. I reminded him that I had both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Cinema, and that he should probably read the biography of the people he works for, NEXT TIME.
EGOTISTICAL. DISRESPECTFUL. BUFFOON.
In another film, some of the actors didn’t understand why I wasn’t shooting the script in sequence. The issue of logistics simply had not occurred to them. they thought making movies was just like they saw “ON TV”.
Everything happened in order, so we had to film it in order, right?
I was actually hospitalized for stress on that film. Had to shut down production for two weeks.
On our last film, one of my (former) producers told me I should be able to shoot 14 pages of script in one day–without their help. This left me to become a virtual one man show. The producer went out-of-town, to make matters worse, this producer passed up the opportunity to shoot with one of our Hollywood stars during that day. Filmmaking is also sacrifice, and most don’t have the guts to make that sacrifice. Yet they still want to be treated like “Stars”!!
NO COMMITMENT. ENTITLED.
After the shooting of ROOM 13, an actor got pissed off because he said “I promised to make him famous” and a year later, he wasn’t. I never said it, and any actor who would believe that line of bullshit shouldn’t be in the business.
On the set of DEMONS RISING, the fight choreographer almost gouged my eye out . I changed fight choreographers because I didn’t want this fool to kill me before the film was finished. When I replaced him, he ran to the Producer calling me a racist, because I put an Asian choreographer in his place. He was hispanic, I WAS black, the new kid was Asian.
PATHETIC. LOSER. RACE CARD PLAYING TO COVER INADEQUACIES.
So, as I posted this blog, one incident slipped my mind, which I must share with you.
In 2002, we were shooting a teaser for a film called SlaughterHouse of Karate. Two of my assistants, Mike Z. and Dennis L. worked hard on the project, and seemed to be pretty competent. We shot the teaser on video, but I hated the look so we decided to shoot actual film with a 16mm Arriflex camera. However, it became apparent we couldn’t move the film forward without outside funding. When I exhausted every avenue possible (and in those days, crowd funding wasn’t even thought of), I gave everyone the bad news that we’d have to shelve the project. Mike and Dennis became infuriated. They said I wasn’t a real filmmaker, and that there was an easy solution. They said as long as I had a letter from a distributor stating we had “possible” distribution, I could walk into any bank in the city and get a million dollars in cash.
Just because I had a letter from some film distributor. In cash. Right on the spot. Uh huh. Sure. Works every time.
It was apparent that these two clowns were out of their tiny little minds, but they began a public smear campaign, questioning my knowledge and experience. As of this writing, I think I may have had just a bit more common sense and practical knowledge about cinema than these two.
Mike Z. was last seen working as a bar back in a local dive, and Dennis L. is running for public office.
My advice: never buy a drink from Mike and don’t vote for Dennis.
OUT -OF-THEIR -TINY LITTLE MINDS- BAT SHIT CRAZY.
Oh, the list goes on.
People who work in indie films work just as hard as the famous, beautiful people in “Blockbuster”. If you have not experienced the years of suffering, starving and working at your craft, then don’t presume to know what it’s about.
And do not try to outsmart those who DO KNOW. You’ll make yourself look foolish.
There’s more to shooting a film than picking up a camera. There’s more to film than having a cool story. There’s more to it than getting cool close ups and wearing cool costumes and saying cool things. And a producer’s job is to be there, convenient or not, until the job is done.
It’s work, plain and simple.
And here’s the part most uninformed people don’t get: In order for people like me to successfully pull off this “film stuff”, it will require a day job–or two– to keep that film stuff going. I doubt many people, have the stamina, intestinal fortitude and talent to do twice the work for half the money.
So, to all the “film experts” who only know about “looking good” on camera, we thank you for your suggestions. But it’s probably a good idea to keep them to yourself.
And for God’s sake, do not pick up a camera.
Blockbuster doesn’t want you.
Until next we meet……
HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR !