As low-budget filmmakers, it often seems as though the deck is stacked against us. Even if we make a great movie that is lauded by many, there’s never a guarantee that it will find distribution (other than self-distribution, that is). Filmmakers like David B. Grelck have been fortunate enough to find distribution in as little as 6 months for his film, White Out (which was critiqued in this issue), while fellow Best of Show winner Ryan Graham searched for two and a half years before finding a decent distributor for his cult-classic comedy, Livelihood. Both directors showed the persistence necessary to keep fighting, but Ryan’s persistence was tested to the extreme as he had to hold on until he finally found the distribution he needed.
Of course, filmmakers are often tempted to just quit long before distribution is sought. Many filmmakers have been induced to either take ill-advised shortcuts or simply give up in the midst of actual production, especially when the production takes longer than expected. In this regard, I’m reminded of famous filmmaker David Lynch, who spent four years completing production on Eraserhead, being forced to shut down production every month or two to earn more money so the movie could continue to be shot. Eventually, when it was completed, the cult status of Eraserhead would help him garner directing/creation gigs for things like Twin Peaks and other cult classics. Micro-budget filmmaking sensation Mike Flanagan had to shoot his critically acclaimed film, The Ghosts of Hamilton Street, on weekends for two years. However, the professionalism of the production when it was finished has caused him to become highly respected and to have a large fan base for his subsequent Oculus saga. Again, these were both folks who were doubtlessly tempted to quit but they held on until they successfully completed their projects.
I was recently reminded that this concept of persistence is not limited to filmmaking, but is a trademark of every notable person in our society. I was watching a televised UFC event that I had taped off Spike a few weeks before. One middleweight fight occurred that I found truly fascinating. In the battle, the more aggressive fighter quickly got the upper hand and proceeded to pummel his opponent unceasingly. As the blows rained down on the defender, sometimes knocking him to his knees until he could struggle back to his feet, I remember thinking that most fighters would have just given up and collapsed beneath the barrage. A little over a minute into the fight, I glanced down at something in my lap and, as I did so, I heard the announcer declare that it was, “All Over!” Assuming that the weaker man had finally been knocked out, I was shocked to look up and see that the unconscious man in the ring was the aggressive fighter, while the man whose hands were raised was the defender. I immediately rewound the tape and watched as the pummeled defender took his beating, but, then, the aggressor dropped his hands just a bit. As this small opening presented itself, the defender’s leg lashed out in a vicious round kick to the jaw, knocking the more powerful man out instantly. The knockout was instantly hailed as one of the most amazing knockout kicks in UFC history, all the more so because the person delivering it seemed to clearly be losing the battle.
I say this to remind you never to give up, no matter how hard things seem or how much it seems like the odds are stacked against you. The superiority of your opposition only makes your eventual victory the more memorable and inspiring to others!