The Newest Pledge recently got some good news. News that has prevented me from posting in the past couple of weeks, and unfortunately, news that I cannot release until next week (hopefully).
Nonetheless, some people have caught wind of the news and have asked me questions like “how did you pull it off?” or “How did you make a feature film at 23, nevertheless get it acquired by decent sized independent film distributor?”I basically hear these questions at every screening.
First, I always answer them with lines like “I had a great cast and crew,” “I was lucky enough to find producers who believed in me,” and “tons of hard work, sleepless nights, and hair pulling.” Sometimes those answers get me off the hook, because after all they’re true, and I continue the conversation, but every now and then someone will ask. “no seriously, what did you have to go through to get the movie made?”And I’m usually not honest, but now I will be.
Do you seriously want to know what I had to do to get this movie made? What I had to do to get this movie to where it is now? What I still have to do to get this movie somewhere within the vicinity of where I want it to go?
I had to kick my own ass. I had to push myself so hard that I made myself sick. I had to spend my life savings just to make it meal to meal. I had to give up all other hobbies or passions. I strained friendships. I destroyed romances.
By Easter 2010The Newest Pledge was still in the early days of production. I was at a family members house where I would spend most of my holidays in San Diego. I got a text from my sister telling me my Grandmother on my mothers side was on her way out. She was in the hospital and didn’t have long. The next morning she passed away. Everyone else got to see her and say goodbye. I had no time to mourn. We would be shooting Thursday, the day of the funeral, and I had no time to get back east and back. There was too much work to be done in preparation.
I called my grandfather to send him my condolences. It wasn’t a long call, it was under ten minutes. I made it while on a break in Bob’s yard. My grandfather said my grandmother was proud of me, and she’d be happy I’m making this movie. She would understand why I didn’t go. It was the one time I let myself cry in regards to the loss. It was the only 10 minute break where I could allow myself to do so.
A month had gone by and my parents had come to visit. They were excited to be on set, but I had little time for them. I had a scene to finish. A couple of days later, I finally had plans to meet up with them for dinner when I got a phone call from my Dad. My mothers father had just passed away of a heart attack. I received that news in between takes of a scene where the fraternity members are cleaning up the baby’s room and talking about a character getting drafted into the NFL. It was a funny scene and when the phone call was finished, I had no time to even think about it, we had shoot the next three days. I walked back into the room we were shooting, talked the next shot over with the D.P, and mentally prepared myself to finish the scene, I even thought of a few good jokes to add.
That night I drove down to Oceanside as my parents prepared to take an emergency flight back, said goodbye to them, and let them know that I wouldn’t be able to make my grandfather’s funeral either. We had a busy schedule. My grandfather would understand.
Charles Bukowski once wrote, “If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind.” He continued, “If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”
Nothing I’d ever read has had an impact on me like reading that when I was 19. At this point in the production and post-production of The Newest Pledge I have done all of those, besides lose a wife, but I’m sure if I had one of those I would have lost her as well. That all may seem like a steep price for a movie about a fraternity with a baby, and I’d agree with you. It has been more than I would have really bargained for back in 2009 when this little project began.
But The Newest Pledge didn’t stress me out, The Newest Pledge didn’t ruin my relationship, The Newest Pledge didn’t miss its grandparents funerals. I did. And I did it because I made a commitment to make the best film I could make at that point in time. I did it to launch a career that I had sacrificed so much for, and will continue to make sacrifices for. I made those decisions because this was the most important thing in the world to me, this was the only thing.
Now that things are wrapping up for this film, I’ve taken the same passion into my new work. I accept that one day there will be a moment where I look inward and ask myself if it was worth it? Losing everything I had at age 24 and basically restarting my life from the ground up all to make a movie. I’m sure one day I’ll wish I had done things a little differently.
But as for now, I’m willing to do the same thing over again. I don’t call it selfishness, or egomania, or conceit. It’s just the only thing I’m good at and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to succeed at it.
I am confident more than ever The Newest Pledge will be a success, but I’m not going to sit back and expect it to happen. I will continue to work my ass off, because it’s what I’ve been doing since day one, and while things a year ago where pretty dark, things so far have been getting much better.
And I’m glad I never gave up, because if I did I’d never get to say I stuck around until things got better.
Jason Michael Brescia
February 14, 2012 5:41 P.M EST