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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Birthday Reflections: The Cracked Veneer of Hard Work

So I've recently seen another birthday come and go, and as usually happens for me on birthdays, there is a lot of introspection and reflection on the past, and ultimately the future. I don't go out and get "hammered" as many of my colleagues do. I've never been a party girl, as the first few times I got wasted in my early twenties, the ensuing misery that resulted for a few days reminded me that putting large quantities of spirits into my body in one sitting is a really stupid idea. Now, so much the older and wiser, I just spread my red wine consumption over many evenings, usually with something delicious like cheese or samosas.

Anyhow, as I'm nearing the closing of another decade of life, I'd say these past 10 years have certainly shifted my view on what I feel to be deeply-ingrained American notions of success.  I think we all believe, to a degree, that hard work WILL bring success, and that we all deserve it.  And if we are NOT successful, (meaning, we aren't making a good living on what we do), then it's our fault for not working hard enough.  But I think this idea of hard work as the cure all is a very controlling one, with its roots in the Industrial Revolution, its ulterior motive to "rally up the labor force" so they can make the 1% even more wealthy by being more productive than your average world citizen. After all, your laborer will find little cause to work hard if you tell them the truth (it's to line your pockets), but if you somehow manage to convince them it's for their ultimate good and they will get ahead (all of it mostly bull poop), then, they'll probably buy into it.

Success, as we define it here in the US, is much more than hard work.  Talent? Yeah, kinda, but there are plenty of talented people I know that seem to never have their talents recognized, or turn a penny for them. I turned on the radio today to hear a short blurb about a poet (turned on the radio too late to have gotten his name) who worked for an insurance company for 35 years, but every morning would wake up at 4 a.m., make a pot of coffee, and write poetry, good poetry, for three hours before having to leave for work. Thirty five years!

More and more, having been making films now for nearly a decade, if you include my education, I feel that luck is everything. Being in the right place at the right time, meeting the right people, the economy is in good shape, being born a certain gender in the right country, etc. etc.. Every person who we would consider "successful" is where they are because of decisions that not only they made, but other people made as well, in addition to so many other factors of luck they had no control over.

But to bring it back down to size, luck means nothing if one cannot work hard to sustain it. Doors may open, but if one rests on ones laurels, that greenery is sure to rot. Talent sure helps the mix, but honestly, it's overrated. We can't control our luck, and we can only somewhat control who we know. Sucking up to those whom you think will open doors for you...well, I tend to think they can see right through that shit. It takes a rare bird to truly know how to make others work for them for their benefit (see above on "hard work.)

So, I guess for now, I'll stick with what I know I have going for me. Hard work. Luckily, it's work that I love doing. I look forward to few things in life more than editing my films, working with actors, writers, and creative minds, learning about the new tools I have to capture the stories I adore writing late at night with a few glasses of wine in me.  Although I admit sometimes I wish my boyfriend and I could take a vacation instead of spending our savings on films, and our vacation time shooting them. (Cue sad tiny violin.)

But then...what is "success" really?  Most equate it with money. It's sad, but I guess I do too. I see money from what I do as: Oh, cool, I can chase paychecks less often and spend more time on what I love doing. And having time for what matters is truly truly a gift. As I sit to write this, I'm flabbergasted that 4 hours have just gone while I was running errands and doing chores.  I don't see "success money" as a license for irresponsible spending, posh mansions or luxury cars. I quite like our tiny one bedroom apartment and do not mind using public transportation. 

Anyhow, we are close to finishing editing pre-viz edit of our third film we are calling "Curse of the Bambino" for now. I've also started developing a story based on a comet coming straight towards earth, or so some think. I'm looking at three different love stories around this scenario, with actual little focus on the chaotic aspect of this catastrophic event, and more about the relationships. I'm also revisiting an idea I started when I was 19 and living in NYC, a never-finished short story about a young girl living in remote New Mexico, trying to keep her life together after her mother dies and her rather evil brother comes to take what is his of the land. It's a very visual and dark story, and the more I get into it, the more I feel it should be in a novel format. I've stopped writing scripts that I can't afford to shoot. But this story needs the imaginative world of blizzards, miles of holes dug in the earth, a pet goat, cattle, old cars, and a decrepit trailer in the absolute backwoods of the deserts of New Mexico.

Lucy contributing her two cents (or paws?) to a story outline.

Birthdays. The best gift would be more time. I just want more time. But until I can get a time machine wrapped up in a bow, I'm quite happy with my boyfriend's gifts of my first Moebius and Jodorowsky collaboration, and a Criterion Collection of Resnais' Last Year at Marienbad.

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