Fatherhood & Filmmaking

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(This post also appears on The 3x3 Project blog.) Herr Herzog ain't got nothin' on me!

daddy.jpgThere's something that happens when you have a child. It transforms you from day one. That cold bucket of water to your face is reality telling you to let go. Let go of the former self and embrace the new. It's not an easy transformation but it goes without saying that you gain a whole new set of skills. Real skills that can be applied to almost anything in life. In my case, making films. The screenwriting aspect of the process is just about finding the time and the mental bandwidth to put thoughts on paper. There was a big learning curve there. The making of the film, the directing, that's another animal. As I embark on the journey once again with another short film, here's my takeaway for how it all applies to the efforts that go into making movies.

  • Negotiating - It's no surprise that this skill is part of parenting and filmmaking. Some days it's a give and take. Some days it's a hardline. Producing 101.
  • Time Management - For me, the hardest part, and I mean THE hardest part, of becoming a new parent was not being able to do what I needed to do when I needed to do it. Showering, shaving, writing something down, finishing a thought. There was a constant demand for my attention when there wasn't before and it was ruthless. It was indifferent to my needs. It felt like a conspiracy against me and my thoughts and as a creative, thoughts and ideas are everything. That said, it's calmed down and I've never been more productive because I learned how to get things done with a schedule. That, and I'm up at 5:30 am just about every morning.
  • Balance - We all need more of this. Parenting along with money, relationships, work challenges - the stress can be crippling not to mention exhausting. Add making a film to your roster and your plate is officially full. Compartmentalize problems, address them and move on. Have backup. Recharge and go back fresh. It's essential.
  • One Big Happy - No matter what your parenting style is, you want diplomacy. Tired, irritable and hungry. My kid, my crew. On the set, mine at least, I want everyone to interact like one big happy family and I'm Big Papa. You don't want conflict but conflict does arise, it's the nature of the beast. Listen to opinions and make a decision. In the end, someone needs to make the call and that someone is usually the director. The director sets the tone.
  • Endurance - If you can get through that first year of child rearing you can get through anything. During my son's first year of life, my significant other lost her job, we moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn and we were all violently ill a total of five times each that winter. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I can push through anything.
  • Humility - It's like they say, you look at the world with different eyes. Maybe more compassion for others. Maybe a need to protect your family from the evils of the world. Whatever it is, the primal and beyond start to become part of you in a bigger way. Your palette has expanded. You see the world with a wider lens and that is always good for art. In so many ways my son has informed my writing. He's put me more in touch with a side of myself that I didn't know existed and as a filmmaker, that is priceless. From the outside, I watch him form a personality, grow and tackle all that life will throw at him, forcing me to look closer at myself. It's humbling and it puts me more in touch with what it means to be human.

 

Now if I can just stop being tired all the time and follow my advice.