Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Handful Of Sand

Guest Blog by Christopher Tillman

Imagine you go to the beach and pick up a handful of sand. You then have to transport this sand from where you are to somewhere else. No matter how hard you try or how careful you are, the handful of sand you have at the end of your journey will never be the same one you started with.

This is what it is like to write and produce a movie.

I recently finished production on my second short film as writer/producer. (That feels good to say.) Getting the first one done was a sheer act of will. After you finish, the question is - "Can I possibly do it again?" The answer is yes, but all the stuff you thought you learned on the first one doesn’t help you the second time around. You have to learn everything all over again.

But with the help of some very talented and wonderful people, I was able to make it through the second production and wind up with a film that looks nothing like what I imagined it would.


That last statement is a bit of a Rorschach test. Do you read me saying that the finished film was nothing like I imagined it would be as positive or negative statement? The truth is, it’s not intended to be either. It’s just a statement of fact. It is not the movie I saw in my head while writing. That’s the nature of working in a collaborative art form. And make no mistake, movies are a collaborative art form.

One day while shooting I heard the director say, "Alright Andy take your shirt off and get oiled up for the next scene."

What? Excuse me?

I wrote a cute and innocent story about unrequited love and the director is oiling up the lead actor like a Chippendales dancer! But we were on a tight schedule and a small space and I didn’t think arguing with here on the spot was going to be a good use of time. "I’ll just make her cut it later," I thought.

Then I saw it later. It was neither sleazy nor salacious. It made perfect sense in the context of the movie and was actually a nice touch that I hadn’t thought of. The director always had the whole picture in mind.

It’s difficult to pass off your handful of sand. You think you can carry it better or if you do hand it off, you want that person to carry it exactly the way you would. But it’s just not possible. So you look for someone who cares as much about your handful of sand as you do. And you trust.

Because it’s not the other person you’re really worried about. It’s your handful of sand you’re worried about. The original one you picked up. You loved that handful of sand and that’s what you wanted to have at the end. But no matter how careful you are and no matter how hard you try it’s not going to be the same handful of sand you have in the end. Once you accept that, the journey becomes easier.

Christopher Tillman is an actor, writer, and producer. Follow him on Twitter at @christophertill

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