ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Film Guy —

A little self-discovery’s been nagging away at me for a while. I thought I’d share.

I don’t think I’m a film guy.

I should have figured this out when I went to film school in the 1990-era realm. In fact, I sort of did; while at the college, I was on the newspaper, AM station, FM station, humor magazine, and did some work for both a comedy troupe and a couple of plays. I wasn’t just sitting around learning films and making films. I did whatever came along and got my interest. I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to do. But by the end of school, I knew I didn’t want to be a film guy.

I ended up going into computers to various degrees. This worked out well.

Sometime in the 2000-era realm, I discovered a subject near to me had not gotten any real treatment, so I made a documentary on that subject. Because I’m a computer guy with a major completeness issue, the movie took 4 years to make. During that time, I started to convince myself I was a film guy. By the time I finished the film, I was sure I was a film guy; after all, I made a film.

I looked into the world of film festivals and filmmaking and how you take your film and get it “out there”, and I hated it. I hated every last bit of it. I didn’t like the freakazoid economics, the desperate and scared people, the self-justifying everything. And the tone, the haughty tone everywhere that reminded me how hard it was not to go over the desks and seats back in college and put them around Michael Selig’s neck. It’s like smoke; it gets on your clothes and it chokes you and the people used to it act like the fact they notice it less makes them in some way more experienced or generally better people. It is, ultimately, everywhere.

I read film weblogs. Lots of them. I read them and I end up having to run a face-punch grade scale, like how many times, upon meeting this person, might I be inclined to punch them in the face. I usually find they run 1 to 2, but occasionally we get up to the breathless heights of the five-face-punch melee initiative and I just have to close the window. When we get to a half-dozen, I unsubscribe.

Why do I read them? Good question. Mostly I’m on the lookout for documentaries I might enjoy watching, a piece of equipment I might need to buy, and some hint of some thoughtfulness that I might need from an external source.

Here’s the thing, though. I think I have about five films in me.

BBS was one. GET LAMP will be the next. ARCADE after that, assuming GET LAMP pays for itself. And then maybe a couple more. Maybe.

It looks like I take 3-4 years to make one of these. I don’t think this is going to shrink. Maybe I’m wrong. But let’s go with 3-4 years.

This is compatible with nothing in the film world. Everything is changing at a much quicker pace than that. Also, the fact I distribute my own stuff makes me utterly incompatible with the film world. It makes me incompatible with actual, real folks who work in the “film business” who do professional things and have to check with an agent/lawyer/flack before committing to anything, and it most certainly makes me incompatible with people who want to act like they’re one of the actual, real folks when they’re the non-actual, fake folks.

I am tempted to a great degree to write a huge screed about everything I don’t like about film people, but I hesitate, like a wavering hammer held over a puppy. I mean, come on, it’s a puppy. They’re people who want to make films, after all. Films are fun or thoughtful things. Hammers are total overkill.

Still, if hammers had a mating call, my weblog feed reader would be like the rites of Spring.

But then I remember one of my helpful rules of life, which is that if everybody is completely wrong, maybe everyone’s right and you’re the wrong one. And that’s when it hit me.

I’m not a film guy. I’m a guy who makes films.

I just do this stuff because I needed to do it, like a guy who finds his porch is broken fixes his porch. He doesn’t join the local carpenter’s union and go looking for more porch-fixing jobs and subscribe to all the latest carpentering and lumber news feeds getting the latest facts; he fixes the damn porch and gets back in the house.

By all means, my patient and close friends have had to endure unbelievable dissections and declarations by me regarding this scene in a film or this choice of camera or particularly clever set design. I was just ranting earlier this week about an evocative and clever choice of dialogue in the 1985 film Young Sherlock Holmes. For reasons too numerous to endure, I love the movie Xanadu while standing utterly, coldly alone in doing so. I am as likely to tear up over an incredible intercut or planned movement as I am to a plot point. I certainly love films and the process of filmmaking.

But try and offer me to do this full-time, for profession, and I will run. I will run in a non-quiet way, too, that sort of screaming run that is nature’s way of saying don’t touch.

I’m having visions of a newsfeed reader reducing its numbers, dropping self-important film teacher weblogs and snooty film reviews and endlessly deluded economics experts. This is a fine vision, a lovely vision.

I make films. I admit it. But I don’t think I’m a filmmaker. I can live with this.

I always have.

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  1. Flack says:

    I think this is something that renaissance men such as you and I (if I may be so bold) will have to deal with. When people meet you because of a specific thing, you get associated with that thing (or at least, that thing’s genre).

    There are people here at work who know me as “the stand up comic” because, one time, I did stand up comedy at a comedy club. Of course there are people who know me as “the author guy,” “the Commodore guy,” “the arcade guy,” “the videogame guy,” and so on.

    Sometimes I feel like I am all of those things and sometimes I feel like I am none of those things. When it boils down to it, I’m just me.

    And if that’s not the basis of an after school special, I don’t know what is.

  2. Steve says:

    It’s funny.. why does one even have to be labeled? You make films. Why be a ‘filmmaker’ or the ‘film guy’? And, as I venture off onto a tangent, it seems that in Hollywood there are few who actually love film for the sake of film. It has become a job or something to gain recognition (though only a few will find these). There are very few Woody Allens in the world. Anyway, I digress. I’m pushing the soapbox under the bed now.

    And you’re not alone. I LOVE Xanadu. And I admit it to anyone who asks.

    On a side note, I found your blog through another blog but I’ve heard of your documentary – in fact, I ran a BBS (with my father being a silent partner) back in the 80’s on a C64. I’d like to think it was one of the most popular in SoCal at the time. Oh, the memories.


  3. sohbet says:

    Sometimes I feel like I am all of those things and sometimes I feel like I am none of those things. When it boils down to it, I’m just me.

    And if that’s not the basis of an after school special, I don’t know what is.