As I’m going over my script, many negative thoughts race through my head. Actually, to be more precise, the positive thoughts race through my head. The negative thoughts saunter in, crack their knuckles, cross their arms, and stare at me for hours on end before ambling off. Most of my negative feedback can be categorized by one question: is it worth it? Will making this film fulfill some purpose in the world, however small, or will it be a grand waste of time?
Then, back to back to back, this past weekend I witnessed three examples, in three different mediums, of those who took a risk, put themselves out there, damning the consequences.
First I shelled out the bucks to see The Great Gatsby in 3-D. This movie has been polarizing, as is nearly everything by Baz Luhrman. People love his stuff and go on opening day to all his movies. People hate his stuff and will refuse to see anything of his anymore. I’m sort of in the middle, as I enjoyed Strictly Ballroom, loved Romeo and Juliet, and was initially meh about Moulin Rouge, but like it more with each subsequent viewing. Like 99% of the moviegoing public, I did not see Australia, and can live a long happy life without ever seeing it. The Great Gatsby, however, left me feeling meh. The 3-D was a wasted experience and totally unnecessary. The acting was generally good, and while the first 75 minutes was great, the second 75 minutes could have been cut in half. But what is important here is not what I thought of the movie, but the fact that Baz Luhrmann made it. He took a widely regarded unfilmable classic tome and made it watchable. He did it, regardless of the naysayers who probably screamed about leaving that classic alone. And I admire him for doing it. Love it or hate it, it exists, and there is nothing we can do to take that away.
The next day I went to see The Crucible at Antaeus Theater Company, a North Hollywood theater group that specializes in the classics. I don’t normally seek out the classics when I seek entertainment, let alone a nearly three hour drama about witch hunting, but we have friends involved with the company so it’s always good to support. And boy, was it worth it. The co-directors took a huge risk by directing most of the blocking out to the audience, as if we are looking at a split screen. For most of the play (except for a few organic “truthful” moments between characters) the actors did not directly interact with each other. A bold and risky choice, which was very effective.
Later that night I watched Mad Men. I have been a fan of this show, and when the writing, acting, shooting and design are in sync and firing on all cylinders, there is little else in the creative world that can match it. This particular episode was dazzling, beginning with all the creatives at the ad agency taking speed to cram in more work during their weekend into a drug fueled explosion of creativity, and the show itself kept pace. It’s very difficult to create a film or show that successfully replicates for the viewer what it is like to be on drugs, but this show succeeded. So I imagine; I have never been on speed. But regardless, it FELT like I was on speed, so it succeeded. A drug-fueled hour of television is risky business on television, even in the cozy and more forgiving confines of cable. However, the series would have been successful without this episode, which while not feeling necessary, certainly enhanced the plot, arc and drive of the season. A risk paying off.
All three of these productions, in different mediums, took huge risks. For the most part, these risks paid off. When thinking about my little script and microbudget production, I need to stop worrying about the consequences of risks and just take them.