Last night, sitting in an unbearably hot room in Milan, trying to barricade myself from the cheering and honking of millions of Italian soccer fans, I watched Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind.
The first time I watched the film, many years ago, I was quite disappointed. It felt so minor, especially from a filmmaker whom I associated with heavy relationship dramas. A film based around community and low-budget filmmaking, just did not feel right coming from Gondry. However, upon revisiting it, I realized just how sweet and funny a film it really was. Even more importantly, I finally related to it.
Just over a year ago, I began filming my first short film, The Dead Days of Summer. I raised the money through an IndieGoGo campaign that was, surprisingly enough, successful. Friends, family, neighbours and strangers alike, donated to my film fund. With each donation, including even the smallest ones, I was shocked. I could not comprehend why people believed in me, nor why they would be generous enough to donate.
When it came time to begin filming, I was utterly unprepared. Equipment I barely knew how to use, non-existent make-up artists and last minute casting all kept my crew, family and me on our toes. Of course, this was all my own fault. But instead of it ending in disaster, we managed to pull through. Help came from all over, friends of my little brother, star of the film, volunteered their time to be part of the film. My friends would come on four hour hikes into the woods to help film scenes, putting up with not only my direction but the incredible heat and mosquitoes.
While it may be the first film I ever wrote and directed, it really belongs to all those who helped and believed in me. I could never have done it without them, and it is something I did not entirely realize until now. The way filmmaking brought people together in Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind is now something I can relate to wholeheartedly.
It was stressful, tiring and time consuming, and yet it was one of the best weeks I have ever had. I may have worked tirelessly to get the film done, however it was nothing compared to what others gave up simply to help me in my dream.
Leading up to this year’s summer vacation, I began to feel worried. Unlike last year, I was not preparing to shoot a film. Instead, I have been working on a slightly unorthodox film project. I have just begun editing the film, and most likely will continue to edit for several months. Whether or not the film ends up working, is still up in the air.
While I could not have made The Dead Days of Summer without my community and friends, this new project will instead be a tribute to my community and my friends.
It still amazes me how willing people were to help me out with my film, and it took some time to realize just how important that help was. Filmmaking is as much about a single vision as it is about all those who help bring that vision to the screen. Michel Gondry realizes this, as do all great filmmakers. I only hope I continue to keep this in mind as I pursue my dream of becoming a filmmaker.