A couple of days ago I had my very first screening of the first proper film I have produced, filmed and edited. This was a pretty exciting moment and one that I have been waiting for a very long time to experience, as I have known for a very long time that I have wanted to get into film-making and being a self-proclaimed ‘film-maker’ that hasn’t actually made a proper film is a bit unnerving for me. Therefore, I couldn’t wait until this moment finally arrived so I could call myself a film-maker rather than an aspiring film-maker, as even though I love to aspire…I don’t like to sit around and do nothing about it. So here is the promo picture that we had displayed on screen before we hit the play button and sank into our seats full of anxiety and nervousness:
So I sat there in utter silence and dread as the opening titles flashed before my eyes…then the first shot appeared on screen and at that moment I was thinking…17 and a half minutes of judgment from this audience. I said at the beginning of the night that I was completely fine, not nervous and excited, which was true, but when that first shot came on screen I could almost crawl into a little hole and die. This was the moment that could begin a career or send me back to the drawing board. Then after a few moments of recalling every detail of every frame before they appeared on screen, we approached the first joke. This was the verdict I kept thinking to myself…it’s amazing how all your hopes can hang on just one tiny little joke. Then it happened…
I didn’t hear silence. I didn’t hear crickets.
I wasn’t an incredible amount of laughter, but is was a good amount of laughter. At that point I glanced around to see 50 people smiling up at the screen and I immediately felt an overwhelming sense of relief. In that one moment I could see a bright and shiny future that is ready for me to reach out and take….and I was definitely not going to give up that opportunity of pushing myself forward into that position.
The film continued on for what seemed like FOREVER. I couldn’t help but cringe at minor problems that I had forgotten to fix or not noticed (such as the sound being 0.1 of a second out in the first scene, atmos dropping in and out in some of the scenes, grading issues and so forth) and cringe again at technical issues with the DVD player and/or projector, which would flicker every now and then. These issues would have been incredibly minor and unnoticeable to the audience, yet I felt like stabbing myself in the face after a while…hoping that that one last pop in the audio wouldn’t send me over the edge and make locate the nearest knife and/or gun.
After some more laughter and smiling from the audience, which seemed to keep me going…the real verdict was approaching, which was when the film was over and I would have to face the dreaded opinion.
The end credits flashed before my eyes and the next 5 minutes went by in 2 seconds. There was applause…there was a couple of speeches (one which I had forced myself to do…one that I cannot remember)…there were 50 blurred faces staring at me and there was definitely a petrified Alex shaking uncontrollably in the corner.
The audience exited the screening room and I stayed inside for a moment. Alex walked out briefly and then walked back in and collapsed on the front row of seats. It was over. It was done. It was screened and now we had to walk out and face the verdict.
I took another moment and exited the screening room only to be greeted by a blur of faces congratulating me and buzzing about the film. There was SO many people I knew…but they all just blurred into one mass of unknown individuals that loved the film. There was not one bad review…there was nobody who said that they liked it, but you could tell that they didn’t….everyone had something nice to say and it was…weird.
I knew the film was good (despite the extensive list I have of things that are wrong with it), but I didn’t expect the response that I received. I mean, we were 1st year media students, who were inexperienced, who had no money and who had never made a short film or had ever been taught how to make one. We were just a group of “film-makers” who wanted to be film-makers, who ran into some luck with the sourcing of great actors, great locations, access to equipment and a whole lot of time on our hands. It shouldn’t have been good, but it was…and I think in that moment when I was hearing this positive response, I couldn’t help but track back to that first moment where I said to Alex that I wanted to make a short film…I knew back then that when I said those words I didn’t expect it to even be made…I expected an OK film at the most.
It’s not that I feel I don’t deserve it, because I put in an insane amount of work, but now it is more like I have been given a motivation that I didn’t know had existed…and I am going to use that motivation to continue to make films. There will be bad ones. There will be good ones. But all I ever really want to do is create films in order to entertain people, to draw them away from any troubles that they may be experiencing in their lives for at least 10 minutes and take them into a world where they can just…chill. That is all that I want and I will not stop until I reach that shiny future that I caught a glimpse of the other night when I heard the first laughs in the first screening of my first film. That is enough to keep me going and I will not give up.