Have you ever experienced The Moment of Truth? Like, when you come to an exam well prepared and get asked that only question you had no time to do a research for? Or, like, when after 6 months of sleeping with you he finally tells you: – I really like you but I am in love with that other girl.
To me the Moment of Truth is when your expectations, you hopes, your prepapations collide with Reality. When you find out your love for a friend with benefits was unrequited. That your preparation for the exam was not thorough. That your 1 billion dollars was not enough to win elections.
I fear my upcoming Moment of Truth – and every time the clock’s long hand moves, the Moment comes closer. “Rocks In My Pockets” is entering the phase of the production where you can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Some time this week I’ll finish animating the 90 minutes of the film, and we’ll have only 30 more minutes to color and composite. If we are lucky, in March 2013 the film be ready to stand on it’s own legs in front of an audience. That audience will deliver the Moment of Truth.
Ah, the torture of anticipation! the downer of doubt, the elation of hope, the never ending alternation between the “I know they’ll love it!” and the “I have a bad feeling about this”.
As a person who grew up in Eastern Europe I was brought up to anticipate the worst case scenarios at all times (because in that part of the world the worst always happens). Only after I moved to United States I learned to exercise the unbound (which sounds just like unfounded) Optimism.
– Future is what you project into it, – I was told by converts of Optimism. – If you want money, behave as if you already have it.
Which contradicts everything my well off but frugal parents had thought me.
Now when I look at the approaching Moment of Truth for “Rocks In My Pockets”, I am vacillating, hyperventilating and biting my fingernails. The Truth for “Rocks” will come in few shapes, in several stages.
First, we are planing a Kickstarter campaign in January, to raise additional funds for sound, music and post production. The projected goal is humongous – $30 000. Will we be able to raise it? How can we reach more people to tell them about the project and how many of them will feel good enough about the project to support it? I fear “Rocks In My Pockets” might be too artsy for majority of potential viewers, but it is not artsy enough for art houses and art galleries. Besides, how many people will associate animation with a serious subject of mental illness? That said, a deeply personal story might reach into hearts of people who have suffered from depression. The optimism: ask for $30 000. The pessimism: do I know 1500 people who can give $20 each?
Second, in March we’ll send the finished film to it’s first festival. Although recently many filmmakers have been able to go around film festival circles and still succeed (YouTube, Vimeo, iTunes, VOD services have become pretty valid outlets for films), we decided to be more cautious and before we do anything with the film first see how well the film does in festivals. But that’s scary – what if we have to keep submitting the film for one year and no festival accepts it? Time would be lost lost, opportunities delayed, next project stalled. The optimism: submit to Cannes and Toronto! they love animation there! The pessimism: the animated features premiered at Cannes had big name producers/distributors attached before they got to Cannes. And my “Rocks in my Pockets’ is no “Persepolis” nor “Waltz With Bashir”. It is a completely different, no big names film.
Third, a common wisdom going around lately is that marketing has to start before you finish the film: – Use social media and build your audience while you are making the film.
Maybe it works for documentary filmmakers who film sporadically but as an animator I find this advise hard to follow. In order to accomplish anything I have to put in 12 hour work days, there is not much left for anything else in the day. Social media is very demanding on one’s time. Just look at your Facebook addicted friends. And who has the time to click 756 ‘likes’ on 756 YouTube videos to get a couple of ‘likes’ in return? I definitely don’t. But when I leave my promotional video on YouTube unattended, NOTHING happens. No clicks, no views, no ‘likes’. Nothing. Optimism: Huge audience is out there for your film – and social media is free and accessible to everyone! You can get your film’s trailer go viral! Yay! Pessimism: There are too many people doing the same thing on internet, you need money and time to do a promotional campaign on social media. Unless you have a talking cats video. Then it goes viral without any effort.
So here’s the summary:
The Optimist in me: I have a great project on my hands that has a potential to connect with many people, bring them joy, revelation, enlightenment, delight.
The Pessimist: the film is too unusual for people to get it – it didn’t work from the classic Three-act structure screenplay, it has too much voiceover, the character design is underdeveloped, it has too many metaphors, it is too dark to be a comedy but it has too much humor to be a serious film on a serious matter.
As you can see, I don’t need anyone to beat me up. I can give the best beating to myself just fine.
Now, enough with the punishment and pain! Get back to work.