Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Birthday Epiphany from Signore Antonioni

 A couple of weeks ago I read an Indiewire interview with Todd Solondz that really depressed me. (You know the kind of depressing that can only come from having to accept reality? Yeah. That.) Solondz is incredibly talented; a true and unique voice in cinema. Moreover, he has made several films with movie stars and he’s an indie film icon who’s at the top of the talent and achievement ladder. He’s the real thing and not exactly a film business outsider like most of us. He was actually “considered” to direct a Charlie’s Angels movie. But get this, the dude has to teach at NYU to make a living. He explains:

I teach at NYU. I love teaching, thank god, because it gives me security and I have great pleasure doing it. I don’t want to have to work on things that don’t interest me. There was not much calculation to this career. It wasn’t done by design. This is what I write now, and this is what I make. Consequently, you pay a price. It’s just very expensive, so who’s going to put money into me? I’m one of the millions who will talk about how grim this finance situation is. I don’t think it’s cyclical at this point; there’s going to be a shift. Whatever audience I had 10 years ago has shrunken.

Click here for more on the Solondz interview.

So that nagging sensation in the back of my neck I’ve been ignoring for years because it’s telling me I’ll never be able to quit my day job is real. My choices are to quit making films or accept it and continue making those films I CAN make while earning a living doing something I care nothing about. It’s a crazy, crazy choice, isn’t it?

And then there’s what the birthday boy, Michelangelo Antonioni, said:

Making a film is not like writing a novel. Flaubert once said that living was not his profession; his profession was writing. Making a film, on the contrary, is living—at least it is for me.

This total commitment, this pouring of all our energies into the making of a film—what is it if not a way of life, a way of contributing to our personal heritage something of value whose worth can be judged by others?

So there it is. Filmmaking is not a way to get out of a job so you can have a life. Filmmaking is a life. My life. Your life?

Maya Deren didn’t have a regular teaching gig, so she died at the age of 44 from health complications from frequent starvation. She literally died for her art.

I guess what I’m saying is, get a job.

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