“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” – Leonardo da Vinci
I took a break from film school. The cost was too high; too high financially, too high physically, too high emotionally. I picked up a couple jobs to get back on my feet, friends rallied to support me with couches and spare bedrooms, and a San Francisco meter maid relieved me of the burden of owning a car. I didn’t suspect that my decision would end my film school career. But, it did just that, with a little pinch of humiliation for added effect.
I continued to imagine movie ideas, a refusal to let go of my filmmaker aspiration. Most of these movie concepts were rooted in science fiction and science fantasy. However, I had a strong impulse to somehow document the tumultuous period following my abandoning an earned film degree. This is how three short film ideas, Joel, Michael, and Nick came to be. They were simple vignettes, each exploring a specific emotionally rebellious impulse dialed up to level 11.
These shorts didn’t have much in common. What they did share was a moment intended to subvert the expectations of the viewer. Actually, all my movie ideas worked to achieve a moment (or four or seven) where the story took an unexpected and severe turn.
My process of developing stories relied heavily on oration. I loved telling my ideas to friends during social events. It was an excellent device in sidestepping conversations about personal life; tales of failing at life’s ambitions in the most boring way possible.
It seemed a fluke when a friend asked if the three stories were somehow related. Without missing a beat, I confirmed they were (because, how intriguing would that be?) and I devised their connections “right there, on the spot.” The three added to something far more significant, and I fell in love with the movie as a whole.
I wasn’t on a path to earning a significant income during my twenties and thirties. I focused more on making the most of living in an expensive world class city. I lost sight of becoming a filmmaker. As the days, months and years ticked by, I couldn’t ignore the sobering realization that the ever-increasing high cost of living in San Francisco would out-pace the lack of significant career opportunities for a college drop-out. I held on as long as possible though.
I moved back to Southern California. It was wonderful to live closer to my parents, although I missed my San Francisco friends terribly. The best distraction was to return to college.
I focused on exploring my talent with traditional art techniques and mediums while developing my creative mind with philosophy and cultural anthropology. After what seemed like a fast three years, I was on a promising new career path as a conceptual artist.
In A Place is one of my most significant art projects. It features two forms of expression; a limited series of signed and numbered photo-prints and a large format photography art book. During the process of editing the book, I wrote three short essays discussing the concepts behind the project.
I wouldn’t say I was new to writing back then. But those three essays would be the first of my writing published for a broad audience. I was concerned with clarity, grammar, style, and content, so I asked my partner, Calista to proofread my work. She purchased a book about, of all things, how to write a book, to focus her approach to proofing my essays. As it turns out, her book was about writing fiction, developing story and characters.
“This book really doesn’t help teach me how to edit In A Place. But a lot of what this author says about writing a good story, steps on how to create strong characters, you already have most of that done for your movie, Not One Iota. Would you consider turning your movie into a novel?”