This whole year has felt crazy. But good. We’re constantly busy between the show and our real life jobs, we’ve been shooting the 7th episode on and off since December of last year. We feel rich the first few days after payday and poor during the few leading up to the next one, but we manage to save a little money to get away occasionally and we’re happy. My life is nothing like the teenaged me thought it was going to be, but I find it hard to imagine being happier. I’ve got a great marriage, a day-job that challenges me and gives me cause to feel accomplished, an internet show centered around exactly the kind of stories I’ve always wanted to tell surrounded by my creative and talented friends, and an audience that validates the stories I’m telling. The more I think about wanting to be a part of the studio system I’ve always admired, the more I wonder why. A larger stage? Hard to get larger than the internet. A more active marketing machine pushing my stories to the masses? Sure, but tens of thousands of people are already watching and hundreds are talking to me about it and speculating about what my characters are going to do next. A larger budget? More money usually means more compromise. Having a low budget means having to compromise too, but it rarely means sacrificing creative control. To some of these folks, what we’re doing is getting shelved alongside their mainstream entertainment. That blows my mind. I was on a podcast last week and one of our more vocal audience members called in. She said talking to me was “a dream come true.” Are you kidding me? That’s MY dream come true. To have even one person consider the characters and stories I’m telling worthy of ongoing consideration and speculation. This YouTube thing is something else.
In preparation for seeing The Master last week, I watched a lot of interviews with Paul Thomas Anderson. One of them was a Q&A with film students at the Arclight in Hollywood. He said that making his films now feels the same as making those preliminary films when he was just starting out as a kid, trying to convince his friends to come together and help him make a movie. Sure, his friends are a lot more famous now and the movies draw a lot more attention, but it just made me realize that no matter what stage of the game you’re at, the process doesn’t change. It’s all aspiration meets compromise meets accomplishment versus intention. It’s always going to be a group of people focusing a lot of energy into small moments that are recorded onto some kind of media. The bigger the group of people, the more specialized their tasks, the more expensive it gets, the better it looks and sounds. There it is. It’s never going to be easy and it’s as worth it as you make it. It’s very rare that something feels like magic live on the set, but if you put it together the right way and drop as much attention and energy into trying to get it right as you can, sometimes all that focus, time, and work can create a moment that feels effortless and real. I think that’s pretty magical. No matter how small or big the budget.
I always thought I was working toward something. I finally realized that I’m already doing what I’ve always wanted. It’s nothing like I thought and it’s better than I dreamed.