A Terrifying and Inspiring Fact

Sitting down to revise my script Closure, and the usual demons creep up my back, perch on my shoulder, and whisper in my ear:

  • The script isn’t good enough.
  • Who would want to watch this?
  • Where are you going to get the money to make this movie?
  • If you get the money, are you ready for weeks and months of 14 to 16 hour days?
  • If you finish the movie, what if you get rejected from every film festival?
  • What if you don’t get a distributor?
  • Are you ready to let everyone down?

Yes, my demon’s speak to me in bullet points. They are very anal retentive and organized.

So to distract myself, I troll the internet and find an article on the new Jack Nicholson unauthorized biography. I’ve always been a fan of Jack Nicholson. We have a lot in common: we are both from the east coast, we share a birthday (albeit 35 years apart), and we’ve both had a torrid relationship with Anjelica Houston. Okay, only two of those things are true.

In the article I read about his big break, which was in Roger Corman’s Little Shop of Horrors, a b-movie that inspired the musical Phantom of the Opera. Kidding! Anyway, the terrifying and inspiring fact was not that his very memorable scene was improvised, or that decades later he turned down Hannibal Lecter and Tom Cruise’s role in Rain Man, but this nugget about the shooting of Little Shop:

The entire film was shot in two days on a micro budget.

"Two days? That's crazy!"

“Two days? That’s crazy!”

Let that sink in. Two days. And one night. And apparently, a few reshoots weeks later. But still, that’s a weekend. That’s getting started Friday after work and wrapping in time for a leisurely dinner on Sunday evening. Sure, the movie is not great, and looks cheap. If you’ve seen the original Little Shop, you know that it does not rank on anyone’s top ten movie list. But imagine what one can do with better, cheaper technology and even a little more time.

I’m not advocating that I rush through and slap together a movie. But I need to heed a lesson from Roger Corman and many other low budget filmmakers, and those good folks at Nike: Just Do It. If I can spend two days watching a marathon of Louie episodes, I can spend at least two days making a movie.

Stop making excuses for why I shouldn’t bother. Just keep moving forward. One step at a time. Revise the script. Then have another reading. Then see where to go from there. Don’t worry about committing years of time. For now, focus on how to fill two days.

Demons, begone!