Monday, June 15, 2009

June 2009 Update - Happy Again

My depression lasted for about a week after I returned to the U.S. These feelings were amplified by my failure to overcome jet-lag and get back on the correct sleep-schedule. Every emotion feels exponentially worse at 3am. I also had a cold that lasted for an entire week, had to move all of my possessions in L.A. into storage and had to drive twenty hours back to Texas all in the same week.

In the past, I've either been paid for portions of my travels or I've had immediate work lined up upon my return. On the trip to New Zealand and Australia, not only was I paying out of pocket to finance most of the movie (Jonathan financed the camera dept.), I was also paying big bucks for the Australia leg, which comprised two-thirds of our time abroad. I came back to the states having spent most of my money, having put much of the expenses on credit cards and then to make matters worse, I lost my best client, who I'd planned on doing work for in Dallas shortly after returning. So not only was I broke, but I had no work lined up in the foreseeable future. Just like every major trip before it, the excitement and power I'd felt while surviving on the road turned into a feeling of worthlessness and uselessness immediately upon returning to normal life back in the U.S. This is to be expected, but when it's upon you, it's inescapable and overwhelming.

I'm happy to report that life is back on track and I'm feeling happy, fulfilled and useful again, possibly more so than ever. Success in a career as a filmmaker is very dependent on relationships, on having friends in the business. In a panic, at three in the morning, the day before I left L.A., I began writing emails to everyone I knew, to inform them that I was back in the States and that I was looking for work immediately. One of my friends, a successful editor wrote me back soon after, saying that I sounded desperate. He was either genuinely concerned for my mental well-being or condescending, I couldn't tell. I wrote him back and said, "yes, I am desperate." I wasn't asking to borrow money, I was asking to work, there's no shame in that. While I was driving across the desert, I got a call from another friend who is a successful director of photography. I'd emailed him as well. I explained my situation and he offered me a favor. He said that he would pull some strings to get me into a union and then help get me a job on his next show. It's a gig that would start in September and continue for six months until February 2010. He needed my absolute commitment, but gave me two weeks to decide. The job is a slight detour from my current career path, but pays more money than I've ever made on anything, so I'd be honored to have the position. Six months seems like a lifetime, but with the money I will save, I will easily be able to finance my next movie. Just having the opportunity available has lifted my spirits a great deal. Knowing that I will be able pay off my credit card debt if I take the job, takes a huge burden off my shoulders.

Now I'm back at home, my parent's home, working on our movie, "More Than It Is - A backpacker love story in New Zealand," marrying the audio from the digital recorder to the video we shot on the Canon 5D Mark II and organizing all of the footage. Not having any paying work is actually a huge blessing. I haven't had time to focus on my personal projects in the last year and now I have at least a month before I have any job prospects, so I'm working feverishly to get this movie laid out in a way that it will be easy for our editor to cut. Having finally produced a movie is a very fulfilling feeling. I feel proud of what Jonathan and I have created (with a special thanks to Cherie Ditcham, Beth MacDonald and all of the backpackers we met along the way).

Making movies is hard, I love it.


Brandi aka B, Bran, b-roe, brando said...

glad to hear things are looking up...i totally know where you're coming from though! enjoy the time while you have it :) miss you here in LA! Have fun in TX and we'll see ya when you return!

Kevin Buchanan said...

I think it's awesome about the movie - filming on the 5D MkII is really a fascinating method of moviemaking. I really look forward to seeing the finished results.

In my own, much smaller and less significant way, I know what you mean about the depression from traveling them. When we arrived back in Fort Worth from Portland, this wave of sadness and pointlessness sort of came over me. I'd been to the Promised Land and had a lot of my own feelings about Fort Worth shattered. When we left, I thought our city was really first-rate in terms of urbanism and the built environment - even the oft-repeated "Fort Worth has the best downtown in the US!" mantra. After the first day in Portland, I realized how massively far Fort Worth was behind in those areas. Here was a place that encapsulated everything I believe and fight for in Fort Worth, already built and thriving.

After a week in Portland, I didn't want to leave. I had fallen in love with the city, with the climate, with the buildings, with the streetcar, with the bicycling, with the place. Coming home to 100 degree muggy heat and our traffic-clogged transit-lacking central city was a real shock to the system. I started to feel that maybe all I do through Fort Worthology was just tilting at windmills, that I'd never live long enough to see Fort Worth become the place I pictured it being in my mind.

Writing the Portland posts on the site relieved me a bit. I still feel proud of the city and what we've accomplished, but it's tempered a bit by knowing that we still have a long way to go. The response from the readership, though, encouraged me to go on.

Keep up all the cool work, Anton. Hope to see ya at some point when you're in town.