Many moons ago, in a land far, far a… well 6 years ago while living in Oxfordshire I decide to embark on the route of a freelancer. At the time I had my own company and it was starting to grow but I wanted to pursue a different direction to my business partners and so decided to leave. I thought that by going freelance and being paid for the hours/ days I worked would mean that I would have adequate time off to focus on my own projects and it was my own personal projects that I was keen to get on with. 6 years later and I’ve managed to finish all of… wait for it… 2 personal projects. And when I say 2, I’m including the projects I did for competitions. It’s not really in the ballpark of numbers I had envisaged when first starting out - 2. I wanted to make short films, paint, create art – whatever – anything creative as an outlet to what is inevitable suppressed by client’s when you’re creating for them. This isn’t to say I’ve only started 2 personal projects. No, I’ve started many short films, books, pictures, paintings, ideas, designs, animations, and creations… I just struggle to finish them. The question is why? Lets take for example my short film ‘Deathrow’ which I started last year, about Oct/Nov time. I have shot it. I just need to composite and animate it. I’ve have even started that. Created the first rough draft and then – nothing. It’s not that I haven’t been working. I’ve worked on 25 projects since then. That’s quite a number in 6 months, roughly 1 a week. OK, so that makes me feel a little better and there is the age-old argument that you have to earn a living, but I really feel a burning need to create my own work. So is it real work that gets in the way? Is it that freelance requisite to need to accept any work that comes your way; after all you might not be so busy next month, perfect opportunity to get on with you own personal project then! Then how come there are those that do? They have their own personal projects and somehow they just don’t let it affect their day job. Maybe they do. Maybe they continuously feel like they have bitten of more than they can chew. But they get their work out there. Check out http://www.jam-factory.com/about/ a senior designer at Aardman and the man behind the Droplets series, not to mention Xynthetic, Shirley Creamhorn and Boikzmoind or what about http://theronin.co.uk/Motion/ - he seems to be incredibly busy and yet finds time to create numerous short films. So what am I doing wrong? Admittedly 25 projects in 6 months is a hell of a lot. Maybe that is where I’m going wrong? I’m trying to produce to much for clients. Maybe the trouble is that I found out I was going to be a dad and for whatever primeval reasoning, I found myself concerned about finances and how I was to support three of us – forever! This is of course this year’s excuse. What was last years? Well, actually last year I was focused on turning Broken Antler around. But what about the year before that, I didn’t have the kit! And suddenly it’s stuck me… My trouble isn’t willingness; it isn’t ideas, or equipment… My trouble is I find excuses. I work on work too much. The idea of making something for me scares me because a client does not sign it off. I have to sign it off and I have to then stand by my work and say yes I am proud of this. I have to show it to the public. My trouble is I need to get some ‘nuts’ as Mr T would say. So here is my pledge. Before my daughter is born I will have finished this short film. Whether I’m happy with the results or not, whether I’m proud of what I’ve created or not. I will not start something else because “Now with hindsight I see that this project isn’t as good a story as this new one” (Something I do a lot) I will not pitch on any music videos or anything else outside work commitments till I have finished it. I have less than 11 weeks to make this so. I better get on.
Jason Arber of Wyld Stallyons in an issue of Computer Arts Magazine wrote an article ‘Life’s a pitch’ about one of his pet hates, the discovery that a pitch you lost was so poorly made by someone else, you feel that you’ve been well and truly cheated. Today I watched a music video I pitched on but lost. I try hard not to think of losing a pitch as losing; after all it’s subjective. I still believe my idea is a strong idea and could have really worked, and could have been achieved for the budget, but I’m very aware that my pitched idea might not be what the band/ artist was looking for. It doesn’t mean it was a bad idea, just not the right one for them. So it can hardly be described as losing. But when you’re faced with ultimately a boring, uninteresting, video that is under exposed in some shots so much that the editor has had to rack up those blacks to a pale grey and accept the grainy results, you do have to question why does such a cool song have such a rubbish video?
I know that on this particular pitch there were quite a number of pitches from various directors received and yet they chose one that had no real story, no clever idea or technique, no twist, nothing imaginative happening, no nothing… I don’t like criticising other people’s work; after all, it’s personal taste and even your least favourite movie started off with the best intentions. Can you imagine the writer, director, producer of any film you’ve disliked, sitting down in a meeting and saying “Yeah, lets make a huge pile of crap that ruins our bank balance as well as our reputation” But as a pitch, this video couldn’t have been seen as anything less than what it was – unless they made promises that they couldn’t deliver. I understand that my idea, which involved animation (of course!) might not have been to the bands taste, however I can’t believe that the pitches from the other directors were all equally not to the bands taste so they were left with the one they went with. My only conclusion is that either they did promise more than they could deliver or they had no choice. There was some back scratching or palm crossing that resulted in this video being made the way it has been.
Rant over… Well for a while. I lost another pitch for another band and then saw the video. It was exactly the same idea minus my ideas for the epic effect shots I had in there. Maybe they thought I was being unrealistic with the budget. Maybe they looked at my reel and figured it would all end up looking too cartoony. Maybe… Maybe… But in the end that music video I watched this morning was dull.