Making a feature length film is like running the 4 x 1oo relay in track and field.
Except in film you don’t hand off the baton to another team member, you hand it off to yourself, another part of your brain and heart.
I ran the 4 x 1oo in high school. I was second leg, the only white girl on my team of four. I barely made the cut, but make it I did! We went to state too. I felt like a white tiger in a jungle of cheetahs. It was awesome.
I love this event. The competition, the adrenaline, the intensity, the burning in the chest – all of it.
The 4 x 100 is the best way to describe what it’s like to make a movie. Mentally challenging, physically demanding, and adrenaline pumping. The end product, or the win, is the goal. But the ride … the ride is addicting. You have to really love the process of making a movie otherwise you’ll never make it. (In my opinion, one of the reasons why so few female directors aren’t in the spotlight is because this process is taxing on the body and the family, two main things mama bears are left with — being in charge of it all.) I’m glad I experienced competitive sports growing up. It may not have been a requirement for getting into film school, but it definitely is if you want to survive the jungle.
First leg in the 4 x 100 is writing. The script. Huge responsibility to get your team started off right, and in creating momentum. The script is merely a blueprint to recruit your team along the way, including your producers. Gotta start strong!
Second leg is shooting, or physical production. This is where you turn your writing brain off and let go of everything you thought to be true and right and perfect about your script, and see it from the new view, what’s actually in front of you. Thank goodness for department heads; cinematography, production design, sound, make-up and wardrobe. Without them you’d be dirt. Also talent. Thank god for talent. They make your mediocre lines, sing.
Third leg is editing where your editor takes a stab at writing the third draft, and you let him. You never know if he or she will surprise you, which they normally do, so expect it, and go with it. The two of you come together to create the final version of the movie, the best version possible, and hand it over.
This is where I am with Emma’s Chance, the third leg.
Fourth leg is final post work. This includes sound and music and color. Each element is crucial to sweetening the work the three other legs ran, to get you to finish strong. I’ve seen movies crash and burn on this last leg because the runner got too confident, lazy, or tired. Don’t let this happen!
We’re rounding the corner, amping up for the last leg, the final push. No dropping the baton around here. Once picture locked we have about 5 weeks left of work. Can’t wait to dive in with my brilliant composer, sound designers, colorist and title designer to get us to the finish line.
Super lucky to have such a great team at each phase, even more lucky to understand my brain needs four separate parts. Ha
Did you play sports in high school? Doesn’t competition get your juices going like nothing else?! Would love to hear some of your own analogies that come to mind of what you’ve experienced.