Hey, remember how I was going to make a movie this term? Yeah, me too. Honestly, I was kind of hoping you’d forget, because I didn’t make a movie this term in spite of all my bravado and preparation, which rivals my senior prom insofar as public humiliation and frustration is concerned.
Let’s dissect why this happened, and why I’m so ashamed of it that I seriously debated even calling attention to it with a blog post until I realized I had nothing to write about and I was already a day late:
I hate being lied to, first and foremost. I mean, I guess there aren’t a lot of people who enjoy being deceived, but I really take it personally when somebody straight up lies to me – not in the, ‘I asked you how I looked and you said I looked great when really you thought I looked mediocre but you were being polite’ way, but in the ‘I asked if you shot my dog and you said no but you actually did’ way.
I feel as though if somebody is going to do something, they ought to be able to own up to it. Sure, actions speak louder than words, but being willing to use your words to acknowledge your completely heinous actions is worth at least half points in my book.
What I hate even more than garden variety lying, though, is people who make a habit of lying to themselves.
Sure, at the outset it sounds harmless – if somebody is willing to delude himself, well, then he deserves what he’s getting, right? – but in my experience, people who lie to themselves get so confident that they are, in fact, all that and a bag of chips that other people start buying into their bullshit and get dragged down with them when their façade collapses, Inception style.
When I was a sophomore in high school, a senior named Andrew decided to take me under his wing and ‘mentor’ me. Through a series of awkward, ham fisted monologues at arcades or during drives to speech and debate practice, he tried to impart some clumsy life lessons about morality, ‘doing the right thing’, and what it meant to be a man.
For my part, I felt as though I’d already picked up a decent sense of these values from my parents’ upbringing, but I was flattered that somebody saw potential in me and so I sat still for his regurgitated Boy Scouts of America life lessons and generally came to value the connection we had.*
*As I write this, I realize that this situation looks at least a little predatory, so I’d like to point out that at no point in these proceedings did anybody touch my wiener.
After several months of this, his girlfriend, a close friend of mine, broke up with him, and he spent the next year or so stalking her, showing up in tears on her doorstep, trying to manipulate her away from other men, and playing every cheap, dirty trick in the book to try and get her back, no matter the cost to her or anyone else’s feelings. Somewhere in the mix he also found time for an affair with a married woman and a subsequent bonus affair with one of his coworkers’ girlfriends.
He’d wanted so badly to be a role model that he just convinced himself that he was, but as soon as the chips were down he actually turned out to have about as much strength of character as mayonnaise that’s been left in the sun for too long. Watch one of your supposed role models do something like that and you might just have to start a cynical comedy blog in college.
So to tie this back to me:
I wanted very badly to make a film this spring – a snappy, dialogue driven comedy to serve as a portfolio piece showcasing my talents as a writer and my friends’ talents as cinematographers, editors, and actors. Unlike most student films at the University of Oregon, my movie would go beyond just talk and actually get made because of the intelligence and professionalism of everyone involved. I had no hard evidence indicating that I was up to this sort of thing, so I just told myself that I was and hoped for the best.
We went through a rigorous audition process and found six exceptionally talented actors to fill out the roles, made a crapton of phone calls to potential shooting locations, and got a head start eyeballing film festivals in which we could enter the finished product. I felt certain that we were going to make something great.
But then, nothing happened.
And I could write a whole other blog about the ins and outs of why nothing happened with my movie. But the simplest way to put it is that making a movie is, surprisingly, really fucking hard, and I’d deluded myself into thinking that I was somehow qualified to overcome all those obstacles when in reality I handled them with all the grace and poise of an old man falling on an escalator, which, in turn, was a waste of my cast and crew’s time.
In a way, Andrew turned out to be a really good role model by being the exact opposite of the sort of person I want to be. Whenever I’m at a crossroads in my life, I ask myself, ‘What would Andrew do?’, and then I do the other thing. Likewise, this failure and embarrassment has taught me some pretty valuable lessons about how not to approach independent filmmaking, so I wouldn’t label the entire term a wash.
Maybe people lying to themselves is the only way anything gets done in the world: People try to overcome their insecurities by telling themselves they can do things that they clearly can’t, and while most of them fail, some succeed against improbable odds, and those are our Sam Raimis, our Kurt Vonneguts, our Batmans. Maybe, one day, if you lie to yourself enough, your fantasies just might come true.
That being said, I’ve got myself fully convinced that my transition from Oregon to Los Angeles will be painless and almost immediately lucrative in both a financial and social sense. Sure, it sounds unlikely, but what if?
Truman Capps is just murdering these deadlines.