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takemehome2006-10-20samcat2.jpgI SHOULD HAVE SHINGLES BY NOW.
With ten days until we shoot, I’d like to take this opportunity to give myself a little pat on the back. You see, ordinarily my body would be rejecting such stress, forcing me into the hospital with a number of rare ailments found only in lab rats. Once, as I think I mentioned in an earlier blog, I got shingles while laboring over a screenplay. But not this time. Why? Because I have decided to pretend making a movie is fun.

Or at least it can be with the right psychotherapist. That is, with the right outlook on this process, you TOO can avoid both a mental and a physical collapse. Example: rather than worry about something as trivial as whether or not you have insurance to cover the $20,000 worth of rented equipment, focus instead on the fact that you’ve already cast your film! OR, rather than worry about how to operate a camera you’ve never held in your life, focus on the fact that your storyboards look very pretty! See? It’s all in how you approach filmmaking. I myself have chosen to approach it with a sparkling delusion.

TO BOLDLY GO WHERE aww, who the hell am I kidding?
The one drawback of boldly making a film on your own is that you have to be bold throughout. You can’t get halfway in and pass off the duties to a studio exec. How are you in the process? Have you planned your film? Called your crew? Polished your script, and etched your storyboards? Or are you losing boldness by the pound? If doubt is ever going to creep in, it’s going to happen now.

To share from my own experience, the night before we shot Advantage Hart, I had a minor breakdown (and I say “minor” only to shield my feminine side). We were $6000 over budget for all of our equipment rentals, and facing the likelihood of shutting the picture down. Kate Bosworth and the rest of our talented cast had just left my house after an awkward rehearsal, and my co-writer/co-producer Mike Hobert and I were trying to make sense of our gluttonous budget. With our director Seibenick, our cinematographer Terrence Hayes, Mike and I all huddled in our make-shift office, I remember the idea of calling all 100 people involved to tell them the movie wasn’t happening. Have you ever gone into the dentist’s office for x-rays and they drape that thick, heavy bib over your chest? That’s what it felt like. I’m not ashamed to admit, I think I shed a few tears. “Just tell me we’re going to make a great film.”

The next morning Mike and I called all of the rental houses and told them we couldn’t pay the price they were asking. In three hours we shaved that $6000 off our budget.

What could be more American than filmmaking? Hollywood gets thrashed by the media for having corrupted our culture, but I think that’s unfounded. Filmmaking is about entrepeneurship; our fervent belief that we can make something out of absolutely nothing. We can make a sound stage look like a space station. We can make Orlando Bloom a Kentuckian. Even more, we can rise out of our social class. We can dream the impossible dream. Against enormous odds. With nothing but a few tools, a singular idea, and the will to see it through.

*(Apple pie, by the way, is not American. It was invented in medieval times in europe and the recipes were brought over during colonialism. The fact that we’ve stolen and claimed it as our own simply makes it MORE American, doesn’t it?! Like that time we took that land from the Indians. What was that called? Oh yeah: “AMERICA”!!)

So run out now and continue this bold pursuit. You have the American Dream to uphold, you see?! And if you have to steal locations… remember apple pie. If you have to steal dialogue from another film… remember apple pie. Should you find yourself in a make-shift office surrounded by your friends, shedding a tear for your dwindling aspirations, remember the soldiers of WWII who, when asked by reporters why they were going to war, often responded: “For mother and apple pie!!!”

On Sunday, Seibenick, Mike and I are getting together to whip up a film. In one day. Running around Los Angeles. By Monday, we’ll have a finished short. Possibly two. Just like we often did in highschool, when filmmaking was just a couple of kids pretending. Before it became something impractical: a math equation. A headache. When it was still a dream.

-Sam Jaeger



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