There are advantages too, of course, I'm not denying them. Experience and interaction are the pump that primes the artist's engine, and he has to get it somehow, but frankly I'd rather get my experience outside "the industry." I've often thought that if I ever hit it big (or medium) I'd take some time off to by a farmhand in Montana or some other weird place I'd never think to go just as a way to add novel input to my brain and avoid becoming someone like James L. Brooks, a once great writer/director who has not spent any time outside of the world of rich Californians in the last 20 years and so finds himself unable to write about anything else. Andy Kaufman really worked as a busboy, one of the many things to admire about him. What better way to stay in touch with the common human experience than to spend some of your time as a run of the mill human?
Today at work was all about Cannes, and of course it was discouraging. There are so many wannabes out there desperate for a shot at the small time, let alone big, and so much of whether you get that shot is based on how good you are at manipulating, lying, and how lucky you get. It's all so...arbitrary. I'm potentially supposed to make a short with the Israeli and I'm thinking of entitling it "Nobody Can Make a Film!" The idea is better than the title, though I don't know if we have time for a project as ambitious as the one I've sketched out.
I've been reading David Mamet's book "On Directing Film" and he's an interesting writer. Frustrating at times, like when he tells the room of film school students "Film school is useless" and some of the stuff he says is just total crap, but one thing I get out of his work and that jibes well with what I believe is that in order to pursue a life like this you need to have a vision and a need. You can't do it because you want fame or sex or adulation. I mean people get those through film, but it's not the only way and it's a crap shoot, a crap shoot with an empty prize. You need to want to do it because you live in a unique internal world and you are desperate to share it with others. You need to want it because the time you are most alive and happy is when someone else GETS something you've done and is able to appreciate it. That's true for me. I don't connect with people socially in the way that most others do. I have no use for useless praise-swapping or normal smalltalk. I don't even have a social smile. Yesterday some woman, around my age, who works on the same floor as I do came up to me while I was getting a glass of water and said "Good day, huh?" I looked at her like she was a space alien. I was off in another world and she brought me back to this one. I resented her for it. That's not normal.
The real question for someone like me is whether that's possible, and how is it possible. How do you get from someone who is desperate to be heard and believes he is worth hearing to someone who is heard and is considered worth hearing? It's a question without one answer, and it's not as important as it seems. The fact is that I cannot conceive of another kind of life. It's worse than nothing for me. I may have to work waiting tables or splitting fences or doing some other manual labor, that's fine, but if at night I can't come home and write something or shoot something or SAY something...then...well I just can't imagine it. It burns deep and hard and always has. That's the bottom line.
Today's the 11th anniversary of my father's suicide. For awhile I've been fasting on this day and using it as a day of contemplation and sadness. Not today. It's not that it doesn't matter to me, but it's no longer a central piece of my life. I am focused firmly on the future. The past is what it is and I'll always carry it with me, but the future's where my bread is buttered and I know that now. It's going to be a long hard slog, this life, but I feel better these days than I have in over ten years, and that's gotta count for something. Something big.