A few months ago I volunteered to work on Paul Osborne’s Cruel Hearts set. Last week that started. The week before, Joe (one of the producers) called me to see what it is I really wanted to do. I suspect he was calling to make sure I wasn’t crazy. I guess I passed the test because last Monday, November 30, 2015, at 5:00am I was on set, helping unload Paul’s and Joe’s cars.
I told Joe my motivation was to learn how other people do it. I wanted to be on set again to make sure my skills are still sharp. I wanted to help another independent filmmaker make his next movie. This community is so small and what we’re trying to do is so hard that we can use help whenever we can get it. ALGORITHM taught me that.
* * *
After the first day of being on set, I had a few hours before Joe (the guy I was staying with) got back to his apartment to let me in. I sat in my car and spoke with my friend Sean. Normally Sean is every encouraging. When I told him about my plan to fund Intelligent Design he was not encouraging.
I don’t know if Sean’s totally disillusioned with the movie industry. I don’t know if he just knows a lot more about it and his perspective is far more realistic than mine. What I do know for certain is that each point I brought up, he spent five minutes shooting down.
When that conversation was over I felt extremely discouraged. I don’t blame Sean at all. He’s still a very good friend and I’m glad for his opinion, since it’s consistently made my stuff better.
* * *
The next day, back on Cruel Heart’s set I was talking with Christopher Sharpe. Chris has two Youtube channels. One of them is his wife’s cooking show, which he manages. She has 300k subscribers. The other is a woman who teaches yoga. That one has 1 million subscribers.
To put that into perspective, my youtube channel now has [insert time here to check actual stats and see that ALGORITHM just past 2.6 million views] 6,977 subscribers. Youtube has a facility in L.A. that’s free to use for anyone with a channel with over 10k subscribers. AKA, I can’t use it yet.
The conversation with Chris continued with someone else asking him what he thought about Youtube. Chris went on to explain how Youtube isn’t TV or Netflix. It’s something else entirely. Then, the other guy asked, “Is the quality getting better?” Chris kept point to me as a reference that it is getting better.
* * *
Maybe I’m doing the whole thing wrong.
Maybe Sean is right and my approach to completely upgrade Youtube to be competitive to the point where it can dominate all other video outlets, maybe that’s just wrongheaded. I want to believe Youtube can be something better, but maybe it doesn’t want to be better. Maybe it wants to be exactly what it is and my desire to “upgrade” it is just arrogance.
The fact is, living in Orange County, working outside the industry keeps me largely ignorant of what’s going on within the industry. I’ve been sitting on the outside of even Youtube, critiquing the way they do things with little to no experience of what they’re actually doing. The main reference point I’ve been using for my argument is Video Game High School, which was targeted at kids.
When I pitched all the facets of my Youtube Renovation plan, Sean shot them down. He told me how each one of them had been tried and how each one had failed. I’m not convinced he’s right about that because I’m not convinced that they were tried with high quality stuff.
Sure, Hollywood gladly took Youtube’s money when they came paying, but they never really wanted Youtube to succeed because that would mean they’d have to change and adapt. And they don’t want to do that and they’re not really very good at it even when they do try.
I feel the attempts that have been made have been done so either with inadequate talent, or with inadequate effort. Again, that sentiment may just be my ego telling me to try something bigger than I’m capable of doing.
* * *
My first week on Cruel Hearts ended on Wednesday and I came home that night. I was really depressed. I sent out ALGORITHM’s crowdfunding perks to the international backers on Thursday. On Friday I don’t really remember what I did.
When Memi came home, she brought a grapefruit home with her as a birthday present because Saturday was my birthday. I don’t like grapefruit and she left the room sad. Later, she came and laid on me as I told her how I was feeling. She cheered me up a little bit which was good because I really needed it for what would come next.
The next day, we went to a local diner called Norms for breakfast. I was craving pancakes. When we got back home, Memi spent the next 4 hours throwing up. It wasn’t Norms. She was having a reaction to her antibiotics. She’s been sick for over a month. She also started to break out in a rash. It wasn’t an allergic reaction. It’s very rare. I took her to Urgent Care and they were able to figure it out after about an hour of tests. It goes away in about a week.
This was a pretty crappy birthday.
* * *
For a while I was just in a tailspin, heading toward the ground, totally resigned to my eminent doom. But, always in the back of my mind are the years I spent trying to write fiction prose. I would write something and send it out. I would then wait until I got a response, knowing that someone would eventually discover my genius and raise me to the heights.
It never happened.
No one ever came.
I got some nice rejection letters, the top 3 of which I’ve framed. No one ever gave me permission. Eventually I just got tired of waiting on others to say yes. I realized that every day I wait on someone else to say yes is one more day where my dreams remain only in my mind, completely unrealized.
I remind myself of that every time I get depressed. No one is coming to pick me up. No one is coming to save me. Each day I wallow in self-pity is one more day my dreams don’t happen.
How bad do I want my dreams? That’s the question? How hard am I willing to fight to make them happen?
Will I give up as so many of my friends have done, or will I just fight harder, risk more, work until I’m long past the point where exhaustion would normally have taken me down. I’ve been emotionally broken so many times, bruised and beaten, both physically and mentally that I’m now well acquainted with the symptoms.
I know that when I send something out for review, unless the review has NOTHING negative to say, I’m going to focus on the negative part and I’ll be sad. That sadness lasts 2 days. Then I can start working again.
With this recent beating I’ve got several choices. I can keep working with my current plan until it actually fails and if it does, I can give up. I can give up without trying anything. Or, and this is the one I’m going to do, I can try my plan as planned, and if it fails, I’ll modify it and try again until I get it done. That’s what I did with ALGORITHM. And ALGORITHM has worked better than I or anyone else’s remotely realistic hopes.