The greatest part about directing a film that you wrote is that everything is your own. Of course the actors, the production designer, the cinematographer, the editor, and the sound designer all add their own touch, but when you’re the director their job is to collaborate with you. All of the emotion, the laughter, the heart, and the brain all stems from your single artistic voice.
I don’t make movies because I love watching movies. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy watching movies, because I do love watching movies, but that’s not why I make them. It’s way too tiring, stressful, and life ruining to devout myself to just because I like watching them; I like watching sports; in fact I like watching sports more than I like watching movies, but I never once even thought of devoting my life to anything sports associated
I make movies because it’s a way to express myself, and as a person I’ve always felt the need to express myself.
I’ve always compared being both a writer and director simultaneously to being like a singer-songwriter. And like being a singer-songwriter, there are times when you really put yourself out there, and times when you’re just having fun, but the best is when you’re doing both at the same time, like pretty much anything by The Police (1978-1983, nothing solo). Those albums are adored; sung-a-long to, but for the most part contextually misconstrued.
And that’s fine. But the people the songs are about, the very people those albums are for, those people aren’t misconstruing anything.
Have you ever wondered if the girls that so many great pieces of pop music are about have ever actually heard the song? And if they did, what did they think? These are the sort of things I think about all the time; these things honestly keep me up at night. What if the girl that “Can’t Stand Losing You” was written for hated the song, but countless others love it, preserving it for centuries? What if she-who-the-song-was-for never heard the song? Did Sting succeed or fail?
There’s a balance somewhere in there that naturally comes. Sting’s strength as an artist, especially during his years in The Police, was his ability to conceal psychologically deep, often depressing lyrics up-tempo new wave, reggae, and punk rock rifts, leading to crowds jumping up and down to some pretty gloomy music (see: “So Lonely.”) Which brings me to my next point:
As much as it would be awesome to write “Fields of Gold” (a Sting solo song) and have a girl fall head of heals, would it not be even better if “Every Breath You Take” (a lyrically dark Police song masked inside of a standard pop-ballad) became the person it was written for’s favorite song? Wouldn’t that be the ultimate victory for Sting?
Thoughts like that are what drive me. What if the people who dislike me, the people who dumped me, the people I’ve dumped, the people who wish harm upon (I wish harm upon no one); what if all those people couldn’t help put to love my work? That would be the ultimate triumph. Not because I want those people to feel bad about their lives, but rather because it would simply be supplementary confirmation that I’m actually good at what I do.
If a girl who broke my heart watches one of my movies and hears my voice while watching it, and enjoys the film. If someone who didn’t like me in high school watches one of my films and thinks it’s great. If my vehemently rude, overweight boss from when I was 19 sees the film and recognizes my talent. Then I’ve achieved a victory that I assume few in life have the privileged to accomplish.
I don’t want to make those people feel bad. Their approval won’t make or break me, but it does drive me. Every single one of them. When I’m logging 19 hour days, when I’m waking up at 6 in the morning, when I’m losing time away from the other things I love, when I’m gaining weight eating the gluten-heavy diet that has made up every set I’ve ever been on, these are things I think about to stimulate me. They’re not what compel me to be a filmmaker, I do that because I absolutely love it, but those people are what keeps the fire burning.
And one day the girl who broke my heart will say she loved my first theatrical release, the kid who didn’t like me in high school will see his nephew watching my fourth film and proudly tell him we took geometry together, and the overweight boss will DVR my movies every time they’re on cable.
And by the time that happens, I’ll likely have new doubters doubting me, new people fueling my drive, and things other than Sting keeping me up at night.
And then I’ll work even harder.
Jason Michael Brescia
January 8, 2012 3:09 Eastern Standard Time