Stone Soup: Making It

No more talk. Time for action.

Do you remember the old folk story Stone Soup? As one variation of the story goes, a group of travelers enter a small village with an empty pot. After asking for food and are turned down by the locals, they build a fire, add water to the pot, plus a stone. One of the locals ask what the travelers are making. They reply they are heating up delicious stone soup and are willing to share it with everyone, but could use some garnish. The local returns with some carrots to add to the broth. One by one, the locals add something to the soup: salt, celery, creme fraiche (okay, maybe in the Top Chef version), and eventually there is a full pot of soup for everyone.

A very tasty rock

A very tasty rock

Depending on your point of view, this tale is a lesson in Communism or simply making the most of what you have. And this lesson more than applies to making a low-budget film. Even though my goal is to make a movie on my terms, that doesn’t mean I will be working alone. Actually, it’s the opposite: it will take dozens, if not hundreds of people to bring this movie to light. Actors, designers, crew members, producers, investors… the list goes on and on, and could be daunting if I think too much about it. But none of it will happen if I don’t start putting that soup on to boil.

So the stone is the script. I am the traveler. You all are the villagers. The narrator of this story? I’m going with Morgan Freeman. Go ahead and picture it:

“Our story begins with the written word. Words assemble to form sentences. A story. And then there are others. Others will join, to breathe life into the story. To make it a world. A new universe.”

Thanks, Mr. Freeman. Nice job.

After discussing Closure with my manager, he made a suggestion: set a date. Go for it. See how the pieces fall.

I’ve heard this advice before, and it makes total sense. Without a deadline, things won’t get finished. Before I had been saying this:

“I’m gearing up to make a movie Closure. Hoping all the pieces will come together and someday, if all the pieces come together, we can hopefully make a movie.”

From now on, I’m flipping the script and saying this:

“My movie Closure will shoot in the fall of 2015.”

Big difference, right? So how much money have I raised to get from the first sentence to the second? Is the script production ready? Who else is involved? Am I crazy? The answers are none, certainly not, no one yet, and purple flying cow. But by telling the world “it is happening” instead of “I hope it happens someday” then the world is likelier to respond favorably.

The risk is, of course, that it might not happen. I may start the ball rolling and I might fail. It may take longer than expected. People will laugh at my failure, or at least enjoy the schadenfreude of “ha, he said he was going to do something and he didn’t. What a failure.” I can’t be afraid of failure. A wise friend once told me that we aren’t actually afraid of failure, but afraid of success. By doing nothing, we are already failing.

In the past I would use the analogy of jumping off a cliff. But now that I’m a little older and slightly wiser, I don’t like the danger of that. Instead, I’ll say the following:

“In 2015, let’s make some soup.”

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