Ambition handicapped by laziness and inertia (So…I shot my first film and why it took 15 years – part 5)

4. Ambition handicapped by laziness and inertia

” I don’t do anything with my life except romanticize and decay with indecision.” 

(Allen Ginsberg)


Self Portrait by Francis Bacon (1969)

You’d think that after making obsessive efforts (which I excel in), to trawl the internet in order to track down two favourite Indian filmmakers in their secluded office hideaways in suburban Mumbai, asking one of them if I could assist them on set – and then actually getting a positive response –  that I’d be really serious about learning filmmaking.

Nope. 2007 was yet another year that passed away. Only this time I could brag about my feeble attempt at how close I got to the magic of real-world filmmaking, and then lament about how my (already booked) flight next day meant that I could not have stayed and made something of it.

We (without thought and awareness) spend a distubingly large part of our lives fooling ourselves into believing we are doing something constructive in the present moment, when in reality we are lambasting ourselves over the missed opportunities of the past, fantasising about the uncertain future, or trying to blame the forces of the world as creating obstacles to achieving our dreams. Anything, than to deal with our own insecurities and shortcomings.

The story that I tell myself is that I was not mentally nor physically prepared to move to Mumbai and live the life of a ‘struggler’. I’d been raised in relative comfort and had been accustomed to fear the unknown. I just wasn’t (and I’m still not) the kind of guy who could just pack up and leave. I wonder how different life would have been, had I had the courage to do that. See what I mean? Still squabbling with the past…

I’ve never had a shortage of inspiration – my little notepads are filled with ideas that would perhaps need a couple of lifetimes to actualise into films. Yet, as the years have passed, I havent fully developed those ideas. Instead, I became a world-class expert at making checklists of ‘things do do’ and even bigger one at never doing them. It’s so comfortable to fall into this trap of perpetually planning for the future, while the reality of the present moment trickles away from our fingers.

Clearly, this is a major problem when trying to independently write and make your own films. This whole process (and any art form) is the greatest  expression of the power of the Individual – a certain breed of maniac who wakes up one day and is driven into action by inexplicable forces, because (even if no-one else does), they do devoutly believe  in the voices, sounds and images in their heads. Inspiration can only take you so far in your dreams, without any action you are left feeling impotent. At some point, it is essential to wake up and to start ‘The Doing’. 

But this is no ordinary ‘doing’ either. I mean, it would be much easier to stand behind a counter all day peddling prozac to hapless victims. Or ‘doing’ an inventory of steel nails during an accounting audit. A ‘doing’ that is comfortable, monotonous, repeatedly using the same compartmentalised ‘skill’ without any need for creative thought and action, or any need to venture into the ‘terrifying’ unknown. Just use what you know. Use what already exists. One stable career for one lifetime of security. Congratulations on your ‘success’.

“Yeah. I’m a self-proclaimed dilettante and it’s not negative to me, because I’m interested in so many things, from 17th-century English music, to mushroom identification, to various varieties of ferns, to all kinds of stuff. But I’m a dilettante because I don’t have enough time. And there are too many incredible things that I get attracted to, and so my head’s always spinning around. But that’s okay”.

(Jim Jarmusch)

No. I’m talking about ‘The Doing’ that takes place once a person has had enough of being told what to do by society. The ‘Doing’ that is an erratic rebellion against a pre-programmed mechanical society. The ‘Doing’ that can never begin without an abundance of courage and an embrace of the unknown. The ‘Doing’ that occurs only when a person is driven by madness and utter desperation to express what is inside the terrifying depths of their soul.

When I finally began to research, write my characters and create a whole mini universe from nothing to fill the blank pieces of paper infront of me – I had begun ‘The Doing’. Colour schemes, moodboards, storyboards, shot lists, shooting schedules, striving to hunt for cast, crew and locations (without any existing social networks), failing many times and thinking of quitting but still carrying on…

Directing my actors movement and their dialogue, shooting my film on an actual camera and watching it all come to life before my eyes –  this was ‘The Doing’.

But let me not get carried away.  I am still crippled by distraction, despair and dilly-dallying. The internet with all its knowledge and magic, is also a cesspool of the meaningless and worthless – a world wide web that has me entangled for large periods of time. Meanwhile, hundreds of ideas scream at me every day, pleading to be brought to life.

The battle to not end up as a spectator to my own life continues…

creative process

So…I shot my first film and why it took 15 years (part 6)