Saturday, January 07, 2012
(Warning: self-indulgent post) Zen and the art of filmmaking....YEAH, RIGHT! ;p
Late last night re-watched the directors' cut of "Amadeus" (ironically I think the theatrical cut is better, the director's one is just longer) - a brilliant film adaptation that I need to remind myself to rewatch now and then more often.
(For those who missed it, "Amadeus" is based on the play about the rivalry between two composers- the brilliant and childlike Wolfgang Amadeus- who is a 'failed artist' within his lifetime, but legendary after his lifetime - and Salieri - who is a 'successful artist' within his lifetime, but also lives to see people forget him and his work- and is tortured by always feeling that he had the ability to recognize creative genius in music, but never able to achieve it himself. The Academy Award winning movie is about a lot more than just that, but I'm simplifying & you can always look it up Wikipedia anyhow.)
But- anyhow - reason I bring it up, is that I have a good number of actor and writer friends who have not 'made it' nor are 'living the dream'--- and are doing the 'non-creative job' thing to pay the bills, and may do so until their death. It's a reality... but life can be far worse, for sure. (Been there, done that)
Still, I love and admire that they still keep their creative flame alive-
I know there's the saying: "If a tree falls in a forest, and there's no one around to hear it, is there sound?"
Similarly, if someone does work that can never make them a Mozart NOR a Salieri, should they pack up their bags and call it quits? Or after a year? Two years? Two decades? Two centuries?
Currently, I'm reading a buddhism/philosophy book that talks about life and broadening your acceptance of whatever life does and doesn't give you.... and it's very calming, but at the same time: it's COMPLETELY contrary (or seems that way) to the idea of trying to create your own film/video.... or meeting a deadline.
Buddhism seems to be about accepting all as is, and teaching oneself not to be judgemental. Making a video or a perfect illustration seems to be about TOTALLY being judgemental and not accepting things until they're 'right' and torturing oneself to action until they are. It's about clinging onto a dream of perfection (even if your head calmly tells you that's never possible even in the most ideal situations) and constantly erasing and starting over again until it is- despite all odds.... whereas Buddhism is about NOT clinging onto anything to release your own suffering.
So, zen and the art of filmmaking? Not so much, unless you're making a David Lynch film, where the process IS the film. (And you've already earned an Academy Award nomination for directing for credibility or have incredible charm and perfect hair. I have none of those....just the clingy part.)
In any case---
I know that when I've given up on creative pursuits, when spirits are down & there's no positive ending to vindicate time/effort spent.... and one only sees the obstacles (internal and external)- it makes me wonder about an older screenwriter who I had the honor to know- who had struggled with alcoholism and finances (he won minor screenwriter awards, met 'c'-list actors for his screenplays, and for years 'almost' made it but never did, as he was forced to work on odd jobs and live with his family)... nice guy who ended up at the bottom of a river- if not suicide for his years of failure at something he wanted to succeed in, he certainly had a bit of a death wish on him.
I think about that now and then- as a good warning sign, but also how the creative muse that gives you personal joy can also transform into what I call the 'creative lottery ticket muse' that teases financial wealth and rewards and everything to make you popular and happy- but somehow disappears and spits in your face and on your work.
(Other forms of it may be 'the Rock Star dream' for those who are musicians, or 'the Football star dream' for high school athletes, etc.)
Nobody wants to be considered a joke, even less so, their babies (the work that they put out). In this day/age of the bullynet (yeah, there are pluses, but essentially the bullynet gives more power to those with bully and mob mentalities than those on the other end in one way or the other), those babies are even more open to being attacked, crucified, and mutilated for a 'virtual' eternity on the bullynet.
Failure is not only considered not an option for those who are mediocre (or trying) in their art- it's something that can never be forgiven nor forgotten on the bullynet as well.
If Mozart and Salieri were alive today, and not way back when, perhaps Mozart would end up a youtube hit for his compositions and Salieri would be torn down by public opinion for not looking as handsome or charming as Tom Hulce. Perhaps Salieri would be the one drinking himself to death, and Mozart would be incredibly successful and punking Ashton Kutcher and partying out with Justin Beiber. (Or not. Who knows.)
I don't know what would happen with Amadeus and Salieri if they were alive today. I don't know if my writer and actor friends will ever be in the situations that would maximize their own gifts so that they don't have to do the 'other job thing' to squeeze out most of the hours of their day.
I do know one thing. No matter what, everything ends, everything gets forgotten. When mankind dies and the machines eventually take over, and there will be eventually a rift between superior robots and inferior ones- that there'll be Mozart-bots and Salieri-bots and misery with that as well, and competitions as to which bots make better youtube vids which other bots will like/dislike and friend/disfriend on Facebot.... and eventually batteries will run out, even the sun will eventually go supernova and no one will be around to really give a crap or remember if they got an Academy Award or 10 thousand hits on their youtube video.
So the lesson to be learned from this post is (beside patience for longwinded bloggers who can't get to the point)...forget the bullynet, forget Facebot, forget the audience and just remember to close your eyes and ears to the negativity inside and out there (I guess that's why some use drugs, but that's a direction I don't want to take this blog to)- and create the best you can, regardless of the outcome.
Or you can let the bullynet and Facebot win. Your choice.