Monday, September 20, 2010
My Summer of Rejection
This has been a wasted summer and I’m very happy it’s going to be over in a couple of days. Even though I intended to accomplish many goals I set forth, I took several wrong turns and have accomplished nothing.
I think that as a result of getting rejected by the major screenwriting competitions I became a bit paralyzed (defeat has had that effect on me before) and I took solace in the entertaining arms of a screenwriter’s board. I have to say most of the people there are wacky, deluded and kind of sad. Desperation is rampant on that board. To most of them, it’s all about writing that one tentpole that will sell to the studios. Except for a handful of professionals, most of them have sold nothing or gotten any assignments. Some of them flaunt that they are represented and/or have placed in contests. Still, they are nowhere. They spend their time on that board giving each other inane advice about writing and the business and analyzing Box Office results, while praising Hollywood dribble (Salt, Inception). And most of them don’t know who Antonioni, Bergman or Herzog are. Even though this may work for them, I still feel bad that their dreams are in the hands of other people. I can shoot a film whenever I want. Doing what I love is in my hands.
In Nostalghia, Domenico stations himself on the scaffolding of the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius; he proclaims the need to return to that point in history where we took the wrong path, and to begin again. But Domenico preaches to a mad world, and he takes his own life with a can of gasoline and a lighter to the strains of Beethoven and Schiller’s Ode to Joy (Freedom). At the same time, Andrei fulfills Domenico’s wish and bears the flame—the lit candle for St Catherine—across the emptied sulfur baths. Heartsick, Andrei collapses and dies in the steaming pool of the spa. I suppose right now I’m in the process of my own symbolic burning; and, when it’s over, I will take care of my own lit candle. I cannot afford to let it be extinguished again.
It took visits to the John Baldessari and Ingmar Bergman exhibits to set me straight and hopefully on the right path again. I remembered who I am as an artist and I feel revitalized. I will write what I want and I will make the films I want. And that’s a promise to myself.
"When I'm told that our films are painful, I think, oh God, I know real pain. We soften our pictures so tremendously. We make them almost romantic fantasies, and just barely touch on these things in a more idealistic way than other people do." J.C.