Long-gestating film projects are having a moment this fall. Last week saw the premiere of The Irishman, Martin Scorsese’s Jimmy Hoffa movie that had been toiling in development since 2007. The legendary director was constantly telling the press that it would be his next movie, but for some reason, no studio wanted to finance a gangster film from the director of Goodfellas starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. But the director never gave up on the idea, and once Netflix entered the feature film game, he teamed up with them to make it. It hits theaters next month.
I’m a little too young to have devoted 12 years of my life to anything. But my latest film has nevertheless been quite a journey. Two college years has to be equivalent to 12 real ones, right?
This weekend, I’m finally going into production on a film I conceived two summers ago. A political satire about Twitter and tribalism, I originally wrote it with my best friend, a journalism major. But then her schedule became too busy to work on something that has no impact on her career, so she left the project. This upset me quite a bit, but I toiled on, pitching the webseries to the largest student-run TV network in the country.
They were interested, but not that interested. Citing my complete lack of film knowledge, they gave me the opportunity to make my webseries as a fiction podcast for no money, which I took. I recorded the podcast as proof of concept last spring, pitched the film again, and they greenlit it for this fall. I’ve been perfecting the script and hiring a team for the last month, and this weekend, the cameras roll.
I’m not telling this as some story of incredible perseverance on my part. It’s taken me two years, but they were hardly two years of nonstop work. I mention it because of a lesson that everyone is eager to teach you when you start writing: eventually, you’ll hate your work. If you invest enough time to make something good, there will be plenty of days where you think your idea is absolutely horrible, but you just have to push through. It’s something Scorsese probably experienced on The Irishman, and it was certainly present with me. I even wrote about it on here a few times.
This lesson can probably be found in every writing book under the sun, but I’ve recently learned the other side of it, which nobody tells you: falling back in love with your work is really, really fun. Yes, there are incredibly hard days, but if you see your idea to completion, you realize why you liked it in the first place. You realize that your issues weren’t with your work, but with the obstacles between you and it. I’ve been dreading this shoot for several months, just because I was over the project and wanted to move onto other things. But now that the pathway is clear and I’m actually working on it, I couldn’t be more excited.
Now I just have to figure out how to work virtual de-aging into my script.
Student, blogger, obstacle clearer