I’m back in Chicago! Sweet home Chicago! And tonight is the event for all events. I’m finally screening my thesis film. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched thesis screenings and dreamed of the time that it would be me showing off a film. It just feels like forever since I started this film . . . Years since I started this degree. Hell, I’m so proud of this film I have no desire to even talk about it in my introduction. I think the film will speak for itself. Instead, I’ll be reading this without a shred of context. (Note: I did read this. And it was glorious.)
If I have any advice for my fellow MFA students at Columbia it would be to get your film done as soon as humanly possible. Production and Pre-Production are a pain in the ass, so why not just hunker down and focus on one goal. That goal, be done in a year. In fact, the second your last class is over, make it a goal to shoot your thesis within 6 months. Then, give your self another 6 months for post and I guarantee you will be done. You don’t want to be at Columbia for 7 years — heck I was there for 5 and I’m sick and tired of being a student.
“Well, gees louise, Timmy, that sounds easier said than done.” Of course it does. I didn’t say it would be easy. It’s gonna be hard, but so what. This is the film you’ve been prepping to make for the past few years. Make it count.
Okay, don;t have a heart attack. Here’s two simple pieces of advice that can help you get in the right frame of mind for finishing your thesis. FIRST: remember that this is NOT the last film you will ever make. You will make more. This is actually just the beginning of your luxurious career. If you think it’s the last film, you’re putting way too much pressure on yourself. This is just one film in a series of many. Keeping that thought in your back pocket will release you from thinking this has to be an outright masterpiece. And then, ironically, that lack of pressure will make the film a masterpiece.
SECOND: remember that you don’t have to break the bank to make your thesis. The best creativity comes from constraints. If you set a modest budget, you can find creative, innovative ways to make your film. Don’t write a script that requites a hundred thousand dollar rental of a Metra train. Be simple. Be creative. Don’t break the bank — good films aren’t built on debt.
In any case, good luck fellow filmmakers. I guarantee, no matter how long it takes you to make your film, the night you screen it will be rather magical!