There's something I have to tell you.
Together with an incredible cast and crew, I am producing and directing a short film which will probably be the largest creative undertaking of my life so far. And I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing.
I don't really consider myself a writer (which feels a bit meta at the moment), and while I've directed student films and plenty of short videos before, I'm still coming to terms with considering myself a filmmaker. Directing anything of this scale is a miracle all by itself. I mean, come on, we're wrangling 10 actors (many of which are literally clowns) and 10 crew members to show up on the same day and create this project together that has purely existed in our heads for 3 whole years.
Right now, I feel a mix of anxiety, excitement, awe, and wonder.
It's no wonder that filmmakers across the world fall in love with this process. After all the prep work of screenwriting, drafting, casting, contracting, rehearsing, rewriting, gathering props and costumes, locking in locations and a shooting schedule, and more and more and more, you end up feeling about the film like you do about your family: sweet love and unabashed hatred.
It's a very exhausting experience, albeit a rewarding one.
The film is called We Are Kickball. It's about a competition over a new friend that disintegrates a community into an absurd kickball game. Yes, it's absolutely ridiculous. At the same time, it's totally based on a real thing that happened to me. Tell me that you've NEVER been in a group setting that got so overly involved with its "purpose" that it neglected the humanity of its members. Have you ever called yourself a Republican or a Democrat? Have you ever participated in a religious denomination? Checked a box for your race? Case in point.
Our world is utterly divided along lines we've created for ourselves to try and belong. We spend years of our lives associating ourselves with teams or groups or communities so that we don't have to deal with the complexity of society all on our own. And then, we watch those very communities attack each other for not being unified. The paradox of it all blows my freaking mind.
Okay, I admit, maybe that's all a little esoteric. That's part of why we're making this film. I wanted to take something universal, relevant and difficult to understand and draw attention to it through some playful mockery. After all, when you place yourself in a little group and then think you can fight all the other groups with an "Us vs. Them" mentality, you're just asking for it. Come on. It's like David and Goliath, except this time God's all like, "Wait, no, David, don't do that, I don't support this."
Now, I don't claim that this film is going to fix our disagreements and suddenly we'll all be "Us for Us" and everything will be fine and dandy and candy will be raining from the sky. Not at all. Frankly, it'll probably just be a fun film that brings joy to its makers and its audience. But also, I do think that by drawing some awareness to this silly human tendency and then making light of it through a little snippet of a story, all those who participate will be able to approach life with a little more flexibility and openness, which is just bound to spread.
I'm getting to the point. I have learned SO much through this process, and because I've chosen to make a film that 1) is important to me and 2) challenges me creatively, I have nothing to lose and everything to gain (and all the stuff in between to be really terrified about). I really think that's really all we can ask for. That's why I think anyone who wants to make a film should do it, even if you have no idea what you're doing. We have much to learn.
I've learned about staying true to myself and not allowing the project to be compromised by what other people want. I've learned to allow my art to incubate over time in order to become refined and true and honest. I've learned (and relearned) the importance of making decisions confidently and not getting too hung up about them being "the right decisions." Regardless of where you're at in the game of life, you must strive to muster your greatest authenticity and express it at all times. That's a lesson I'm still afraid of learning.
So. We're gonna spread some love and hope and awareness by asking some hard questions with a weird little film. And frankly, that's what it's gonna be. A weird little film. During one of our writing sessions, the other writer and I jumped off of our picnic bench and shouted, "That's it! It's a whole new genre! Absurd theatre takes to the screen!" It'll be physical like a silent film except there will be sound and minimal dialogue (think Jacques Tati); it'll be quirky and colorful like a Wes Anderson film except there will be less witty banter; and it'll be full of fast and visual Edgar Wright-style transitions. But, who knows? Maybe it'll end up leaving you wondering "what the crap just happened?" Ultimately, it will be ours, and that's something I can be proud of. We've done our best to make a good film so far. The next step is to show up, do the work, and shoot a good film. After that, we'll have to sit down and edit a different good film. I'm anxious. I'm excited. And I have no idea what I'm doing.
**We Are Kickball is a Drawbridge film. Find out more as it becomes available at wearekickballmovie.com