Getting Back On a Rusty Horse, and Other Mixed Metaphors
Well well. It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? So long that I don’t quite know how to start. Or start again, rather. I’ve been wrestling, lately, with deciding what to write and what not to write. I know (having heard it again and again) that the less I write and the more I just put out videos, the easier it makes everything seem, and thus the “better” at all this I must be, right? Well, ya know what? I think that’s a load of bullshit. I think damn near everyone struggles, wrestling art out of the birth canals of their imagination and into the real, corporeal world. So, I’m just going to go ahead and be honest about it, otherwise I don’t know how I’d start this dialogue up again.
Getting funding through Kickstarter was a wonderful, affirming experience, and I am so grateful to everyone who helped out. I truly, truly, and deeply am. Without diminishing that, it’s also a bit of a double-edged sword. Before the funding came through, this was just my little, process-oriented project. It could be good, it could be bad, and it could most definitely be ugly. I could stop whenever I wanted, and I had no one to please but myself (ha… saying that now I’m not sure I truly believe it. Even if it’s true, it never really felt that way). Suddenly, though, when the funding came through I had backers. Producers, if you will. I felt like, suddenly, I was answerable to someone, like I had a boss, almost. I think this was mostly in my head, but I suddenly felt a ton of pressure.
While recognizing that A) this pressure was almost entirely coming from myself, and B) that pressure isn’t necessarily a bad thing (I generally function really well when I have a deadline), I still let it get to me. I stressed out about this and that, the details, the minutia. I imagined that my audience would now be far more critical than they were before, after all, many of them (more than 150) were now a paying audience, and some of them had paid quite a lot. I wanted everything to look and sound perfect for them. I wanted to start back with the perfect episodes. Well, waiting for “perfection” is both maddening and fruitless. It’s an idea, a concept we strive for, but I’m not sure that it exists outside of our imaginations.
I also have spent a lot of time focusing on details I’d never thought about before. A lot of this came from trying to “upscale” the show. My attempt to make this project bigger and prettier starting with my first episode back opened the door for many more logistical complications than there had been before. Some of these may have been necessary (i.e. I had to learn how to use my new camera, which is about 50x more complicated than my old one), and some of them may have been seemingly extraneous (I attempted to build a greenscreen in my living room with just a greenish sheet and a couple cheap lights). I think, in one way or another, I learned some lessons from all of these things, which will likely prove very valuable down the road, and that’s a good thing. That said, it very much distracted me from the point and purpose of this project. It’s not about stunning HD video, or special effects, or something like that; it’s about character, and it’s about story-telling. That is the very soul of this project, and I lost track of that for a bit. Finding that again, and realizing that that’s pretty much all that matters, was a big, big relief.
It took getting distracted and losing my way for me to take a step back, survey the landscape, and regain sight of what is vital. As far as my investors go, I’m incredibly grateful to them, and am no longer scared of “letting them down”. Why? Because I’ve made it this far into this project, and I’ve done a lot of work I’m really proud of. Getting back into it, it’s not about doing what you think everyone (or the majority of people) will like, it’s about doing the best work I can, to satisfy myself, to judge the ideas/episodes/comedy based on my own standards, and to learn via the experience. Same as it always was.
Staring down the barrel of twenty-five more episodes is incredibly daunting. It’s easy to look at that and feel overwhelmed or unequal to the task. What I need to remember, though, is that when I first started this project, twenty-five episodes ago, it was incredibly daunting then, too. I didn’t know how I was going to do it. I didn’t have a map for how I would get through it, and I didn’t really have a plan. I just held my breath and jumped in. I learned how to swim by swimming. So, I’ve been out of the water for about three months. It’s not that I’ve forgotten how to swim, it’s just hard to motivate yourself to jump back into the water when you know how cold it is, and you know how turbulent it can get. Human beings, however, are survivors, and once we’re in a situation, we adapt. We develop new skills to get us through different conditions. We have learned not only how to stay afloat in heavy water, we’ve learned how to surf the waves.
In short, it’s time to jump back in.
Check back on Friday.
Brent 1.4.10 12.00am