Well, we've been wrapped for a couple weeks now.
Whew. Wow. Breathe.
I've been riding the wave of adrenaline ever since we cleaned up the set and walked off. It was such a wild ride. I mean down to the very last minute of sun on the last day trying to get our last shot. CRAZY AMAZING and STRESSFUL.
Here's some reflections of what I experienced before, during and after saying ACTION!
1. Making movies is a LOT of work. People who dropped by the set would always comment, "I had no idea how many people it takes to make a movie." Yes, that's why I always sit through the credits. It's the ultimate collaboration. Nothing like it and it takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. I REALLY did cry one day. It was a combination of extreme appreciation that my dream was coming true, exhaustion for the long days and probably worry all at the same time the whole thing would come together. I am so thankful for the many crew who made this film possible and half of them donated their time and the other half worked for 50% off their normal rate. Incredible. The rest of these reflections all come from this idea that it's a lot of work and we do it as a team.
2. Making movies is fun, especially hanging with our talent (that's movie speak for actors). And actors make or break a film. Y'know when you watch a movie and think, "Geez, that actor didn't fit the part," It's huge piece of the puzzle, and I'm so grateful that we really nailed it with our cast. I was so proud of them. Most of all, they were great human beings off camera, which made it so much more fun to get great performances in front of the camera. (Shout out to Theresa Donahoe that helped cast our local SF Bay Area talent. She got us some great people. Shout out to to both our SF Talent Paul and Corinne, and our LA Cast Bruce, Anjelah and Dove!)
3. Making movies is stressful. There are lots of opinions and ideas and problems are swirling around at once. We work twelve to fourteen hour days and it is intense. On the third day, I had to go home and cut TWO FULL pages of script in order to complete our desired shotlist on the fourth/last day. And I knew when I showed up to set on that last day (after staying up till 1am), I'd still have to be ready to cut MORE stuff. And I did, and I loved it! Really. it was hard, but it made things so much better. Wish I could learn those lessons ahead of time, but again, so thankful for the crew of people who partnered with me. (Grateful for producers Ola, Jessica, Jayson and Daniel, DP Matt, AD Armin, 2nd AD Domick, Editor Abbi, UPMs Erika & Adam, Scripty Terri, Gaffer Cyrus, Sound Mixer Brian, Boom David, MUA Lisa, Wardrobe Kat, Production Designer Justin, Art Dept. Jess, Key PA Hope and SO many more like my good friends the Meyers who were on set in multiple roles).
4. Making movies is a team sport. Along with the amazing crew, my community, my family and friends...are amazing. Starting with my wife who (we learned from the 1st film how to make things smoother) partnered with me and gave me such encouragement to get it done. My mom came on set and mothered everyone for a couple days :). My friends who all dropped by, made food, and not only gave financially, but gave any help I needed. I had an RV donated for the week (Thanks Ulrichs) AND Ken Sly, an amazing partner in my creative endeavors built and installed a white picket fence on our movie house (with John Campbell)! Also, In one great instance my own real life neighbor (Carlos Devitis) donated his car AND Red Bulls. I mean, it's crazy how many people rallied around this project. The owners of the house, too. The Philpotts, Steve Penna of Main & Elm. So. Many. People. To. Thank. #Grateful.
5. Making movies is solving problems and doing it fast. Directing is basically thinking quick, working together, and getting the right people in place. I don't know squat about lenses (and as hard as I try, I'll never understand the magic of lighting, or special effects make-up, or _______) but that's the beauty of directing. It's getting the right people, the right team of creative professionals, collaborators who can fulfill the vision that is in your head (Thanks to Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith for reminding me I could do it in this clip), because I battled waves of insecurity every day on set that ironed itself out in those moments where I was able to just make decisions, work with my team, sit back and say yes, no, now, not now, ACTION and CUT just to get the vision in my head out onto the screen.
6. Making movies is expensive. We raised about $50,000 so far. You hear that number and go wow! That's more that what some people make in a year. And it's true, it's nuts. Things cost so much. And things surprise you that you don't expect. We needed MORE insurance for our stunts. OK! Then we broke window in the RV. OK. Then we ran out of food. OK. Then...always more. BUT...The kicker? We got about $10,000 worth of things donated. That's right! FREE food, locations, hotels, flights, clothing and props. I'm in awe and can only thank God for providing....AND we couldn't do it with out the generous support and sponsorship of Redwood City Parks & Arts Foundation thanks to president Pamela Estes. OH and.. we are still fundraising, so cough, cough, if you can donate, please do :) https://www.crowdrise.com/neighborfilmbytonyga1
7. Making movies fulfills me. For sure it's the working with people and ALL the great moments of working together, when cameras are rolling and when they are not. AND I also I love the part where I get to tell stories. I get to write and direct? Wow! I love sharing these films with whoever I can. I love asking questions through this medium and bringing real human issues, in broken systems, to life. I don't have many answers to give, but I hope that this art surfaces questions, that lead us to places of healing, depth, hope, and justice.
And I can't wait to do it again.
Thanks for going on this maniacal and amazing journey with me.