FAKE IT UNTIL YOU MAKE IT?
I was at the Cannes film festival with my first film. I'm walking along the croisette and a guy stops me who recognised me from my film. He had just seen my film at a screening. He was a development executive from a film company. I wasn't happy with the film, but I didn't down it for the sake of my investors and producers, but he knew I didn't like it.
He said he could see past the film and said I done a good job for pulling off a first film. Especially since it was shot in a lot of US locations, on film and brought in on budget. He gave me his card and asked me to come in and pitch to him in London weeks later.
I never knew who he was until I really looked at his biz card after he left. He was a development executive for New Line Cinema. One of the biggest Hollywood companies, studios at the time I met him. "Boogie Nights" "Lord Of The Rings" "Se7en" 'Blade" "American History X" "Lost In Space" I could go on and on with classic films they made. They were built from the success of "A Nightmare On Elm Street" series of films.
Anyway, I weirdly wasn't excited. I should have been, but I took it in my stride. It didn't feel real. Weeks later I'm in London at New Line's offices to pitch movies. Like fucking Johnny Depp in Ed Wood! Minus his film cans! I looked at the executive and another guy in the room and my fucking mind went blank! I couldn't even pitch a bad plotless porn flick!
It wasn't nerves. I think it was because I only had "One" idea, and not even a great idea at that. In fact, it was so shit, I forgot the fucking thing! So I blew it! I beat myself for weeks. No, that's a lie. I beat myself up for months, and years! In fact, I almost drank myself to death. What the fuck was wrong with me? Sometimes we just get one shot that could change our lives, and I blew it! I tortured myself for years after this, until I came to peace with myself years later.
What issues did I have? I simply wasn't ready. When I made my first movie, I had not even made any films before. Just a promo video to support the script. Then I'm thrust into, "You're on your way to making it!" Before I was even qualified for the job. I had a passion, energy, but essentially I had the "Fake it until you make it" attitude.
Now to a certain extent, I think that approach can be ok in the creative industries for certain jobs. You want to be a Rock Star, pick up a Bass Guitar, look cool, and start doing! But play that fucking guitar for years until your fingers bleed!
Same with acting, and filmmaking at the diy level. Do it for years, even if you have to act in dozens of shitty movies, or churn out cheap fast films to learn. That was the problem. I never done my apprenticeship doing DIY for years.
I never knew what most of my crew did on the film. Today, that's unthinkable! So I vowed, if I get back into this game, because I gave it up for years, then I made a pact with myself to learn every aspect. Even if it's at the smallest level of making films. Direct, Produce, Edit, know about lenses, Websites, tech, acting, the lot! Always get up to speed with the latest tech.
I met Robert Rodriguez during that period. He inspired me. He started the proper way, same with Chris Nolan. Rodriguez quote: "If you're just creative, you'll always have to rely on technical people. If you're creative and technical, you're unstoppable.
Anyway, I sometimes think back to that day when I was dumbstruck with one pitch in front of that executive. I can laugh at myself now, and I have changed a lot since then. As now, I could pitch you a movie idea out of thin air if you gave me 30-60 seconds. Not an amazing highly original idea, but no worse than most movies on streaming platforms. I could come up with an original film idea if you gave me a few hours or a day max.
That only comes with experience. I knew inside back then I never wanted to "Make it" because I knew deep inside I was faking it. Hey, many in the industry fucking fake it and make careers!, and sleep well at night. But I knew inside I just wanted to learn every aspect, even if that meant making tiny films for years. Even rough trashy like films, just to fall in love with the process.
What's my point to sharing all this? Were all conditioned to think you have to get to this place by a certain age or your done. The thirst for success before the love of the process. It's partly why our world is a mess. There's so many people that are half arsed about what they do because they just want to "Make it" Right from government, to people that want fast money.
Also, it's never too late. The tech we have today, and the way the things are evolving, I now feel this is the time I was preparing for all along. The skills and passion I have now has equipped me for this new world. Even though I never really knew what was ahead of me. I have just kept going. Most fucking smart sensible people would have given up, I'm too late now to back out.
I recently read about a digital artist called "Beeple" He made daily digital art for 14 years, despite the fact you could not make a living from digital art. At least from the art itself. He said he did daily art to get better. He said he was shit for years, and just keep doing it to learn the process, get better, be good, fall in love with the process. It was not about money or "Making it"
After 14 years, he discovered NFT's. A way to earn and build something from his digital art. He is now famous for selling an art piece for $70m Hey, I'm not going to be the Beeple of filmmaking, and I don't need to be, but I'm confident I could pull off making a living from this soon, and build something different via all this new tech.
I too have spent years making a lot of crap to get better, and learn every area. I also thought I will probably never make a living at this, as I didn't fully know the technologic developments that were ahead. But now there is a way forward, I'm ready!
My big point is, faking it until you make it won't really get you anywhere. Especially in this new transparent world of the internet. You can't fake passion and commitment for the long term. NFT's are like a gift from god for many creatives and other sectors, and that can extend to filmmakers, but theres a lazy greedy disgusting money grab at the moment. A short term heist!
If you want people to buy into what you are doing, and what you are trying to build, I really believe they will only get behind people that live and breath the shit they do. Then the money will follow. Fall in love with the long term process, and you won't be a starving artist! Don't "Fake it until you make it", "Make it until you make it!"