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Episode 35 – What’s the Price of Pursuing Narrative Filmmaking?

When you start out as a filmmaker you don’t instantly have the opportunity to get paid for the films you make. What sacrifices must you make (if any) to pursue a life of creativity? Timothy and Alrik give you their answers on this weeks episode of MMIH!

Listen now or visit iTunes to download it to your device.

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Show Notes / Links

The Daily Struggle

  • Shout out to   for editing last weeks episode and Alrik and Timothy talk about the different styles of podcast editing.
  • Alrik talks about editing the rage and the actors reel and how no matter how fun the work editing is it still sucks to be dragged away from a personal project.
  • Timothy talks about Alrik and Timothy’s meet up with local filmmaker Dave Bundtzen, how it came about and the concept of the three filmmakers collaborating on a project.
  • Alrik talks about thinking about switching the Genders of his two leads in The Alternate and what that would mean.
  • This leads into a conversation about Gender/Race in film and how Timothy and Alrik both think about their responsibility as independent filmmakers.
  • Timothy briefly mentions the first spot to the Cheetos campaign he directed and that it will go live on Tuesday 02/16: https://twitter.com/ChesterCheetah/status/699279533740941314

Topic of the Week – What is the Price of Pursuing a Career in Narrative Film?

How do you balance a life in film? What are the things that you need in life and how to get those while making movies? What really comes down to being the most important?

  • How does choosing a life of filmmaking effect your personal life?
    • Alrik outlines question and talks about what he thinks of the question.
    • Timothy talks about his understanding of the question and his basic reaction.
  • Alrik talks about the big power ball drawing from a few weeks ago and talks about what he would do if he had won.
    • Timothy answers the question ‘how much would your life change if you won power ball?’
  • Alrik talks about what he’s sacrificed to be a filmmaker
    • Timothy talks about how it’s not a choice he made but just what’s ended up happening.
    • Alrik talks about how he will adjust his rate of filmmaking depending on what happens in life.
  • Timothy and Alrik talk about the expectations of being a filmmaker.
    • Timothy talks about not going ‘all in’ on one idea but rather making small bets to build up a portfolio.
  •  Whats more valuable, a filmmaker with five features made or one feature made?
    • Alrik counters Timothy by saying if you don’t take risks your movies might never be as good as they could be.
    • What small bets have we made so far? All our short films.
  • Final Thoughts
  • Can you have it all, a life of pursuing your art and all the things that a normal 9/5 job provides?
    • Alrik says yes, but there will always have to be compromises on one side or the other.
    • Timothy says its hard to know what you want in life until you have it but the one thing you’ll have to give up will be time.
  • If it’s a hard decision to make these sacrifices, then what you are going after is probably not for you.

Things to Share

  • Timothy’s first Cheetos commercial is live! He worked with famed character animation shop Tippett Studio.

  • The Witness video game, Alrik can’t stop playing it with his wife. Check out this review!

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  • I know I saw this all the time but this is a very interesting topic just because how I feel about it changes on almost weekly basis. However I feel, the bottom line always ends up resulting on me continuing to make films and I feel like right now, I’ll always make movies, one way or the other! What do you think, are there big sacrifices you have made to be a filmmaker or do you agree with Timothy and feel like it’s not even a choice, it just works out that way?

  • I tend not to think about the sacrifices I make as a filmmaker. But I hide behind it all the time. Truth is, I like being by myself more than being around other people so it’s nice to have filmmaking as an excuse not to be social.

  • L. Jeffrey Moore

    In response to your last podcast talking about casting for Spirit Machine here’s an article about actor Idris Elba talking about diversity in story telling. http://www.upworthy.com/5-of-the-most-powerful-moments-from-idris-elbas-speech-on-diversity-in-the-media?g=2&c=reccon3

    My first knee jerk reaction to the casting director’s comments about not wanting to look elsewhere for a diverse cast was that she didn’t want a challenge or that thinking outside the box was too hard. With thoughts such as this we are left with a monochromatic way of thinking and it is because of this we are looking at Hollywood being questioned yet again on how it can go two years straight and not have any person of color up for any awards.

    As filmmakers on the fringe of this industry we should not be afraid of telling stories with people that we trust and like and represents the society of which we live in. And we certainly don’t have to curtail to casting directors who think that not wanting to look for a diverse cast for fear of not being able to pair up family members properly is a sad state of affairs.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your point of view. Don’t blame the casting director, blame me. I’m the director, it was ultimately my decision. She made a recommendation, I followed it.

      I think it’s an important conversation to have and I’m glad to see it happening more and more. Even in advertising it’s happening! And not because advertisers are pandering, but because we’re now finding diversity in our workplace and those people are challenging the status quo. They’re saying, “Hey, both the CMO and President of our company are people of color, they want to see non-white people in their commercials.”

      Inside or outside of the industry it’s our responsibility to make roles available to actors who aren’t traditionally featured. And to Alrik’s point, just because a role wasn’t written with diversity in mind, that doesn’t mean it can’t be a role that features diversity. How does your story change if you cast a parapalegic, a woman, a transgender person? Idris Elba is right, this is not just about skin color, this is about letting everyone be represented: gender, disability, sexual orientation, etc. Being able to see yourself in the media around you is important. Us white people take that for granted. We see ourselves everyday.

      Listen up filmmakers! If you want to inspire people, you should be thinking about this stuff. And to Jeffrey’s point, it’s not the easy road. It’s a lot easier to cast for the status quo. At the very least, open up your casting specs and allow everyone to audition and then be bold if you see a great performer that didn’t originally fit the idea you had in your head. Be open to changing your idea and incorporating diversity into your story. It just might make the story you’re telling better. Bottom line is cast for talent! Talent can come in many shapes and sizes.

    • Great thoughts here. Although the Oscars are just a tiny slice of the industry I’m glad they are fueling a wider conversation about the lack of diversity on screen. It’s sad to see so many people resist change, even greats like Steven Spielberg. Hardly anyone is openly racist in this day and age, but a lot of people are fine with how things are. Hopefully these conversations let people know that no, things are not fine. Something is broken in how we do things because our art and culture under-represents huge portions of the population.