Puzzle Pieces

This weekend, Screaming Pictures got to flex its muscles again for Vidjam‘s Harrisburg Filmmaking Weekend.

IMG_1733This is the second year we’ve done this, and this year, we had some new additions to the family, rounding the creative team up to 9 people. We collectively gave birth to a beautiful baby script, then turned around and shot 5 locations in one day — I am still unable to comprehend how we pulled that off — and panickingly made it to the finishing line in the editing room the day after that.

I got the opportunity to direct again — a task that I truly love, but don’t get to do very often, given my crazy schedule. Just being on set is an addiction, but when you get to steer the ship, it’s a magical feeling. The fact that people trust you enough to direct them is an exhilarating feeling in itself; and then on top of that, you get to make art! It’s enough to make a girl giddy.

When you think about it, directors really can only work with the material they’re given — while, yes, they are creating, “creation” often is just a better way to describe shuffling around what you’re given and organizing it into a thing. So if you watch a great film, the director most certainly deserves credit for that process… but the entire cast and crew deserve that credit too.

This was something I didn’t understand for many years. I thought, it’s all about the auteur! Look at how directors like Hitchcock and Coppola make masterpieces — if anyone else had taken that film on, it never would have been as good.

But that was before I went to film school, and got to know the other film students — before I realized who I liked to work with, who was responsible and efficient and on the same wavelength in terms of the vision of the project. That was before I realized how many directors have specific crew members that they come back to over and over again — people that they trust and are comfortable working with, and know that their vision can be brought forth best through these people. When you find your crew, you are free to paint the world.

That’s not to say that you can never hire new people. But the hiring process is just as important as actually being on set and shooting footage — being picky is really an okay thing in this scenario.

That’s the thing I love about filmmaking: it’s everyone’s project. Each person is another piece of the puzzle, without whom it would be incomplete. As much as I have been a stickler for my vision on any given project that I’ve directed, that vision will stop dead in its tracks if you don’t have the right people to push it along. It’s a collaborative process; a director is nothing without her crew.

This is just a long-winded way of saying thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to the crew of UNHINGED: you were the perfect puzzle pieces, and made every moment a joy — even if it was a 14-hour shoot followed by a lot of swearing at a computer screen. It was wonderful. I feel indebted to you for giving me that experience, and I hope that more experiences will happen in the future.

UNHINGED will be playing on Sunday, June 4th at 5:30pm at Midtown Cinema, along with all the other films made this weekend.

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