Making an "International Film"
It's all fun and games until you need your passport renewed and you forgot your carnet.
Making an international film isn't anything I thought I'd ever be doing. What a title- "international film". It would have impressed me before. Before 2 months ago that is. I don't want to be one of those people that pours out buckets of endless positivity regarding my goals and how I am achieving them all. The truth is that being an international film maker means one thing - complexity. Layers and layers of it. Then add some more.
It means that you are putting your $ and other people's $ on the line on the chance that everything you have set in place-sight unseen-somehow flows as planned once you get "there". It also means that unless you are well-heeled (read: wealthy) or very fortunate (read: fully funded by donors) you are working for free. It means that on your personal stake you are emailing and calling strangers across the globe and asking them, begging them (?) to please consider sitting in front of your camera to share their personal lives and perspectives.
On any given day, these days, I am emailing with multiple people in different parts of:
Vancouver, British Columbia
New Brunswick, Canada
Nova Scotia, Canada
I am doing this on top of being a single parent, on top of keeping an eye on my parents, oh...and on top of making a living as a freelance videographer.
Why? What could possibly be my reasoning for this life stretched so thin that sometimes I have to just sit still with nothing electronic on at all? What's the value of having a plate full of more than I can eat?
Whenever I feel totally overwhelmed with a film project that is taking place in 4 distinctly different geographical regions, I literally just think about how much I love my children and how much I love the planet. I love the beings that live here. I am a fan of humanity's chances to turn all this around. I may be monetarily poor, but I've had a privileged life of time spent outdoors in wild places. I owe it something in return. I want to make sure that I know I did something so that my kids and their kids and your kids have a world to live in that doesn't suck to live in-to put in bluntly. I am not under any illusions of just how serious things are in terms of the environment we have crafted with our oh so crafty clever minds. We might already be past the tipping point.
I still think it's worth trying.
Storytelling is my super power. I'm not a great writer. So it's not that kind of storytelling...To me storytelling is what happens when I meet with people...their stories are what inspire me. And once the cameras are done rolling I love retelling that story through editing the footage.
I've never met someone who didn't have a good story. My secret is that I genuinely love people and their stories. I just happen to do this now with a camera close at hand. This story: SALMONFOLK, is what I taught myself video editing and camera work for...for years. I learned editing at the age of 43. After my kids fell asleep I'd stay up late and work til 3 AM learning what all those different buttons did in Premiere Pro. Thank God for Youtube tutorials! It was all for this film series-though at the time I didn't know it. It's my opus. Besides my children and my parents, all I think about is this film series. How I'll shoot a particular scene...
"oh make sure I ask her this question when I get to Norway" "should I use a two camera set up with him...which side of his house faces East and at what time is the sun just right?" "will I get seasick while filming on a small boat?" "30 lb salmon? 100 lb salmon--where in Japan was that again?" "is it really okay to focus on this work when I am barely financially making it with my regular workload?"
I have funded a large portion of the first leg of this journey. When I say "I have funded" what I mean is that 37 AWESOME people donated funds to make that first location a reality and within reach. I still have a bit to go on that one though due to some changes. I plan on making films for each location and then a wrap up film combining portions of each, themes that unite the whole. I'll be using Martin Lee Mueller's book "Being Salmon, Being Human" a LOT. I can't recommend this book enough. It says what I've been trying to "think". It crystallizes so much good stuff. I couldn't be happier to be having chats with the author and when I meet him in real life in two short months, it's going to be a damn fine day.
I literally won't be able to do this project without a LOT of funding help and aide. Are you an angel investor?
Just thought I'd ask.
See? That's another aspect of movie making that is like a litmus test for how much you have at stake, or how much you believe in your work. I have acquired the ability to fearlessly ask strangers "are you interested in helping to fund this important work?" Never in my life have I been comfortable asking for money for something I believed in. But this is different. I am feeling like this film simply has to be made. The people that will be in it, the stories that they have, the perspectives, once gathered...It's a case of the sum of the whole is greater than the parts. That's what a film can do...it brings about critical but geographically disparate realities...proving that they are part of a whole, part of a ONE. When we put these lives side by side, in the way only a movie or perhaps a book can-a new untold story emerges.
Wild Salmon, the people descended from those that last knew of the days when wild salmon were not endangered..and the collision of salmon and indigenous peoples with their branched off "modernist" relatives who have somehow brought about near extinction through ignorance to both...there is a powerful learning in this true story or survival that is relevant to us all.
My hope is that as an "international film maker" that somehow I can secure funding so that I can completely focus my everything on this one project for the next year at least. I can't think of more important work to be doing...besides raising kids!