Last month Guest Blogger Jessica Hinkson wrote about approaching Ardent Pictures to shoot her short film. We were already familiar with Jessica as an actress and yoga teacher and she had recently launched From Yoga To High Heels, a blog that takes a sometimes serious, sometimes humorous look at the merging of those two worlds. Her basic concept was to shoot around a piece of poetry, with original music, almost like a music video, to play on her site.
We normally shoot straight narratives, so we thought it would be an interesting experiment to shoot what is essentially a short art film that would play online, especially one that we felt we were ‘facilitating’ for her.
Which brings me really, to the reason for this post. My father was a professional artist. By which I mean he made his living by being a painter and illustrator. That meant I grew up surrounded by painters, graphic designers, photographers, art directors. In other words, I grew up where normal life was about producing work, and sometimes discussing it. It was normal for me to get an idea and execute it, whether it be a drawing or short story or script for me to perform.
In our friend’s initial approach of us, it occurred to me there was slight tentativeness there; that in the discussion of a production approach to her essential concept, there was an element of asking for permission, a feeling of ‘can I do this? Is it ok? It’s a form I’m not that familiar with – do people make short films like this? Can I?’ And when we sat together throwing ideas around, she suddenly said: “I used to just make stuff. All the time. Whenever I felt like it. I just… made stuff.”
Immediately I was struck by the significance of that. When we’re children, we play, we draw, we take paper and ‘make stuff’. For those of us in the arts, it is following this initial impulse that is the beginning of what will eventually be our professional lives; making ‘stuff’, learning how to make ‘other stuff’, and learning skills to help us ‘refine stuff’. It all follows that first impulse, which is to simply make something.
I felt protective of the impulse and the wistful note with which she made the statement. Once we said yes to her, I thought it important to keep returning to the point that it was her project and we were there to facilitate that. To foster someone’s personal project seemed a good thing, and there’s certainly worse things I could do with my time.
So. Stop thinking about it, stop talking about it. Paint your painting, take your photograph, write your story. It’s all practice, it’s all refining your concepts and your skills.
If you’re an independent filmmaker, you’ve got a lot of elements to put together; you’ll do a little bit of everything, but get going, just make your film.
Just; make stuff.