All the Reasons You CAN

In 2009, I dropped out of CSUN; I left the impacted film program after just one unfinished semester. There's lots of reasons why; some personal, some more philosophical. The bottomline is I was done with school and CSUN was teaching film in a far too business based way for my liking. Anecdotally, if I wanted to learn business, I would have listened to my dad's persistent nagging and gone to study that more tangible major years ago.

The film teaching method at CSUN is a world of CAN'T; it constantly puts up barriers between you and your film ideas. The university is all about permits, contracts, budgets; all necessary for when you have resources to work with. When you're nobody, living with your parents, without a paying job, you can't go about film the Hollywood way because you can't afford it. So, according to CSUN's model, without money or ways to get it; you're out.

COC on the other hand, encouraged film students to just do. They taught us how to use the digital equipment, taught us how to write a script [usually based on what you know/have experienced ONLY]; then they sent us on our merry little way with cameras [DVXs at the time], sound recorders, tripods and let us go make the film we wanted to make. We got to DO for ourselves and make mistakes on our own. It's through that actual hands-on experience that you learn how to improve your filmmaking, not by talking about it.

At CSUN, I learned all about why I couldn't make my film. At COC, I was simply allowed to just make it.

I realize by this point, this just sounds like I'm hating on CSUN; and I am. I'll worry more about that when I see massively released and recognized movies by filmmakers who say they graduated from CSUN.

Don't mistake this for an advertisement for COC either. I happened to learn a lot there but some of the passionate teacher-filmmakers I remember are gone now and the whole curriculum may have changed to something more concrete and business based.

CSUN has its place. It's for people who have money, can get money, and/or can basically play the Hollywood game at this stage of their life; CSUN is for producers.

If you really wanna be a filmmaker, just DO. It's not easy, it's not supposed to be easy but it also doesn't mean you have to be bogged down in the way Hollywood makes movies because, at this level, you're not them. You're probably not ever going to be them. Seriously, how many of us are REALLY ever going to get the chance to work with big budget studios on huge multi-million dollar productions; maybe if you grip it or be an extra...but that's probably it.

Maybe I'm just an artistic asshole. I can't cope or deal with the 'right' way of doing things so I fight against it but Goddamn it, I'm a filmmaker; I'm going to make films by any means possible.

I had two projects recently that ran into barriers; one is a short film, the other is a sketch.

Overall, I've been lucky, my projects thus far have been simple enough for me to (basically) produce myself and people have been excited to help; so I've never really run into any opposition. But now I had a short film that could use some real producing help, mainly because of the locations required, but when I reached out I was told the idea was likely too complex and perhaps not even worthwhile in it's current state.

This sent me into a self-depreciating spiral; I questioned myself not only as a filmmaker but as an actor. My confidence all-around was simply shot. Just as having few rejections in my life, thus likely psychologically horrified of the prospect; I hadn't really ever been told no [especially since I ask rarely and only when I'm fairly certain people will say yes].

For that film, the dissenting thoughts were probably correct; I'm still working on that idea. After the impending funk, I jumped back in and I had an idea for a sketch but someone I asked to help had said it was probably missing something. But it was a small, simple sketch so I didn't get discouraged this time; I sat on the idea until I found someone who would want to be apart of it. And it turned out great!

Is it perfect? No. But nothing at this stage of life really will be. I'm six short films in; my shorts have gotten better but they still aren't masterpieces. They just get a little closer each time. If your primary concern is perfection over production, you're not going to make or release anything.

To wrap it all up, the message here is to feel things out for yourself; institutions or people will tell you no or explain all the reasons why you can't. Sometimes you should take that to heart; but sometimes you should circumnavigate those naysayers and seek out those who are on board so you have the freedom to just DO.