Most filmmakers rarely make films. Simply put, it takes a ton of time, energy and resources to actually make a film, even a short. Like the thousands of disillusioned immigrants who were promised the “American dream” at the turn of the 20th century, many aspiring filmmakers have found themselves unfruitful despite the “digital revolution.” Although affordable video cameras have virtually replaced expensive film equipment, not much has changed in terms of lighting, costumes, make-up, locations, talent, crew, catering, insurance, contracts, etc..
Because of such production demands, most filmmakers spend little time actually making films. Though my business card says, “Christopher J. Boghosian, Filmmaker,” much of my time is spent planning, promoting and thinking about my films. I assume John Doe, Baker frequently bakes or Jane Doe, Yoga Instructor consistently teaches yoga; however, Christopher J. Boghosian, Filmmaker rarely makes films. Sure, filmmakers are often unproductive due to their own issues. Like other artists, they battle numerous personal hurdles such as laziness, ignorance, ego and fear. Believe me, I fight inner demons every day! Nonetheless, even if one earnestly attempts to make a film, the sheer complexities of the task eventually overwhelm and thwart them.
An important distinction must be made. The type of filmmaking I am speaking of is live-action narrative filmmaking with high “production value,” which essentially refers to the richness or sophistication of a film. For instance, a film with myriad locations, celebrities, costumes and stunts will have high production value, whereas a film like Paranormal Activity with two primary characters in one location lacks production value. Although such value is subjective, there is general consensus in the film business and amongst movie-goers regarding how rich and sophisticated a movie should look. Therefore, those who strive to make a distinguished film for a large audience are faced with the production value challenge, which usually means raising money to secure, coordinate and execute multiple elements over a long period of time.
As a relatively new filmmaker, production demands quickly become my nemesis. Making a film often ends up becoming a logistical chore, not a creative venture. Rather than develop the craft of writing and directing, I often spend my time securing locations, gathering equipment and managing people. And if you’re thinking that such chores ought to be delegated, I simply ask to whom? Unless you are blessed with an abundance of loyal colleagues or resourceful family and friends eager to volunteer, you, the filmmaker, often end up doing it.
As a result, I have been developing a filmmaking methodology that will eliminate much of the burden. Rather than raise money or solicit volunteer services, I am seeking ways to reduce production elements in general. It’s like America trying to reduce its dependency on foreign oil. How can I become more independent through efficiency and innovation? Can I only film at one location? Do I really need a ton of expensive equipment? Again, it comes down to production value. Many people try to make movies with a high production value on the cheap, but they almost always fail, because it’s too taxing and expensive.
Excellence is doing the best with what one has and because I currently don’t have plentiful resources, then I must let go of high production value expectations. I had no crew and rented no equipment for my last short film, Jasmin & Josephine. I was the only person who worked on it, from writing the script to editing the film. As a result, I literally made the film in one week. I didn’t have to wait on paper work, people’s schedules, etc.. In fact, the elderly woman in the film is my very own grandmother and we filmed in her apartment! Sure, there is virtually no production value, but, hey, I successfully made a film that I am very proud of.
I am convinced that aspiring filmmakers like myself need to abandon production value and focus more on making films. I miss my camera and I miss working with actors. As a result, I am developing an intense filmmaking project for myself to begin in January. Tossing production value and it’s obstacles aside, I’m going to free myself to simply make films!
-Christopher J. Boghosian
Tags: Directing, Movies, Producing, Independent Filmmaking