The first dispatch from a newbie film director who'll be chronicling his shoot for The Atlantic
I never dreamed of being a movie director. And by that, I don't mean, "I never dreamed I could be a movie director." The gig was not something I ever wanted.
Yes, I went to pretty good film school, the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television. But I enrolled in the undergraduate screenwriting program with the intent of being not the guy behind the camera, but the guy a safe distance behind that guy and—most likely—behind a few other guys in suits with open checkbooks. That's if I was fortunate enough to find an available canvas chair with "writer" stitched on it. Despite my professors' frequent warnings about the lowly, oft-disrespected position of the screenwriter, I always felt I'd get plenty of fulfillment from being the dude who got the ball rolling with roughly 110 pages of pure, Aristotelian three-act gold. Leave the directing to the megalomaniacal control freaks and self-styled auteurs. Also, I was intimidated.
Now, 16 years after film school, I find myself on the eve of directing my first full-length feature film. It took seeing the title on IMDB to believe I am actually doing this:
Films, especially independently made ones, are often love's labors that take long, hard years to make, so I won't be so self-centered as to waste this space lamenting my particular struggle. In short: I finished writing the first draft of Big Words in March of 2009 and have since gone through a few rewrites, an untold number of requests for "feedback" from people in "the industry," several flirtations with different producers and directors, one well-intentioned but ultimately fruitless option agreement for a single dollar, one self-imposed, complete script overhaul, and eventually a brief, honest conversation with myself.