On Making Not Much
There can be something preposterous and pretentious about writing a director’s statement. Making a film is an organic process. It is also a collaborative effort where no one can foresee the outcome with any kind of accuracy. Yet, in presenting and introducing our films, we make a great deal of final, unalterable, and declarative statements. It is as if we forget that making a film is a process, wherein the journey is far greater than the destination.
During the various stages of production, the director, if sufficiently invested, grows along with the work. When the process ends and the film is complete, the director emerges from a cocoon to see the finished work for the first time. In spite of spending upwards of a year working on something, the director is as likely to be surprised with the results as anyone else.
That is to say, any statements we make at the outset a film, will almost certainly be much different from the things we end up writing at the end. Every time we view a film we see something different. Watching films at different times in our lives has different effects on us. We don’t see things the way they are, but rather, the way we are. While we continue to grow and change, our films lay open to new interpretations and the statements we once made about remain fixed.
In discussing Not Much , now that it is complete, I see a nice dénouement. It is a film about priorities that ultimately leads to an irreversible change in an individual’s life. In any life, people’s priorities change. I see in my protagonist a man coming to grips with his changing priorities. In myself, I see the same things as I emerge from the journey of making this film a different person. When my original intentions for this film began to shift, it was because I was finding that newly discovered values and priorities were taking charge of me. Rather than making a film that presents what I already know, it is a journey of self-discovery that I have taken with the audience in search of reconciliation with new priorities. It makes it no less interesting that it is all done through drama.
A traveller returning home after reaching a far off land, is sure to feel different about his quest than he did on the day he first set off. Likewise, a director who emerges from an intense filmmaking experience will be a different person than he was going into it. Though it is a collaborative effort, the filmmaking process can be a deeply personal journey for the director and the actors.
This is all very personal. Of course, every frame of film that makes it on screen is personal. I am extremely grateful to all the actors, crew and supporters that saw this film through to the end.
Beijing, China – October 2004