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What’s LOVE Got to do with it? A Closer Look at Making Movies #atozchallenge #IndieFilm #LA #Photography

l-r: Actors Rodney Benson and Mike Gaudioso shooting a scene in the short film ABYSS: THE GREATEST PROPOSAL EVER.Although my interest in being a film director blossomed from a childhood fascination with an uncle’s video camcorder, I’ve since realized that cinephiles who want to dip their feet into filmmaking are in for a rude awakening. 

Just because you love watching movies, or have been in awe of people making them doesn't mean it's reason enough to want to create films yourself; No amount of fondness in the world will sustain you through the crap that comes with production and other aspects of the job.

Do I believe we should all do what we love? Yes, but to an extent.

I've loved basketball for some time, but that doesn't mean I ever wanted to compete against Dwayne Wade for an NBA championship title. I also love “LAW & ORDER: SVU” and “CSI: NEW YORK” and used to think being paid to write about those shows was among coolest gigs I ever had -- until that job got old real quick. I eventually dreaded having to not only watch these series, to also pay attention to aspects of each episode that, when I was just a regular television viewer, didn't care to notice.

Self-Portrait by L.A. Photographer Estevan OriolStill, it seems that a love for one’s art, at least at some level, must be present if we are to see our ideas and goals come to fruition – for it is part of the recipe for success. For me, I have to love what I’m doing so that I can feel like doing it. Otherwise, it’s just a job,” says Estevan Oriol, a world-renowned photographer and documentary film director based on Los Angeles.

Given Oriol’s lasting experience in the arts – he’s a former tour manager for rap groups Cypress Hill and House of Pain, and directed music videos for various artists including Eminem and Blink 182; I recently invited him to address the impact, if any, that love has on the quality of one’s work.

He quickly points out his certainty that love is required to make great art. “Sometimes, there are jobs that come up that I have to do, where I must focus on the art; I have to check myself and tell myself that even though I don’t want to do it, I have to get into that ‘love-what-I-do’ zone, or else I’m gonna put out some shitty stuff,” says Oriol, who also points out how the work suffers if it’s creator doesn’t fancy their art.

Chevy Bombs Car Photo by Estevan Oriol“If you do it half-ass because you don’t feel like doing it, it’s gonna show. So, you have to get in the mood to do it -- even if you’re not; and put everything into it because sometimes people won’t have enough money to pay what you normally ask or what you’re worth, but when you do the job, you have to do it just like they can afford [your work].

If you have one job for $10,000 and you have one for $5,000 -- the rest of the world doesn’t know what you’re getting paid, so you have to put [the smaller gig] out like you’re doing a $10,000 job or everybody’s gonna be like ‘oh look, he must have only gotten paid a little bit of money for this; because it’s poor quality work.’” – Estevan Oriol

The thought of making movies seems exciting, and it can be, but after writing screenplays, producing short films and trying to develop a feature length project, I’ve found some comfort in knowing that just because I can, doesn’t mean I should. That goes for any of the professional or personal paths we’re on. It's a whole new ballgame when you're suddenly depending on the thing you love to put food on the table. Film is an expensive and physically, mentally and emotionally draining hobby. I believe that more benefits must be factored into the equation, for one to choose film as a profession and stay the course; what started as a fun activity fizzles quickly when you’re in the trenches of trying to finish that last scene, for the 6th, 7th – or 18th time.

New York based film producer Ted Hope once said “If we don’t want to lose sight of what is needed to make a great movie, we have to make sure we don’t lose sight of why we want to make the movie.” I understand how his train of thought factors into making the best work possible by understanding what your intentions are and operating from a place that supports those objectives. I’d like to think that we all want to make work that we can be proud of; how that measures up to seeing a return for my efforts, however, has more to do with what form of payoff it brings and less to do with an adoration for filmmaking.

'Plain Us' by Amir MotlaghIt often feels like I lost a lot of the love I had for making movies and all the while, other factors kept (and keeps) me going. Time and more experience will only tell if this stifles my work’s potential in any way. Besides, “’Great art’ is a concept,” according to director Amir Motlagh, who helmed several award-winning short films, a feature film “WHALE” and more recently, the electronic pop EP “MEAT ON YOUR LONELY BONES.”

While Motlagh shuns the notion of preferential treatment for in the arts, he does recognize an underlying thirst for making fresh ideas come to life, which manifests itself on screen. “Aside from getting into a pedantic treatise, I would assume that you have to have a binding passion or drive for doing something so fleeting as working almost solely with the imagination. I don't even want to mention the uncertainties, as that's almost an afterthought. Why else would you want, or better yet, need to tell stories?” he says.

There are moments when I’m so wrapped up in editing or shooting that no other activity measures up to the pleasure that comes from the task at hand. Then, there are many other instants where it seems like I’m either just going through the motions or am ready to throw in the towel on being a filmmaker. So far, I’ve learned – sometimes the hard way -- that having a love for cinema is not the only reason to make movies. One should be able to get something else out of it beyond the sheer joy of creation.

Is LOVE the driving force behind YOUR career of choice?

Do YOU agree or disagree that the value of one’s creations (or even one’s output in the workplace) are influenced by the amount of LOVE one has for producing it?

Be sure to read the previous post about Killing Your Babies! A Lesson from Kevin Smith.

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Reader Comments (5)

I am a writer. I'm also an unschooling mom.

Much of my focus is spent in feeding my children's interests, facilitating them in exploring things they're fascinated by. I can attest to the fact that love is a powerful motivator.

For myself, I prefer to love what I'm doing. Not only dos it lead to a deeper commitment to what I'm engaged with, but it makes me a more playful, happy person (which makes me a better wife, mother, and person to be around).

April 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterShan Jeniah Burton

I think it all comes down to preference. My career of choice is the one that isn't putting food on my table. But I do the job, get paid and keep it moving. Writing, which is what I wish was paying my bills, is my passion. I do it out of love and passion for the art, the creativity and the fun.

April 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAngela Brown

What a fascinating insight. I never thought about having to watch for all those little bits of continuity that we take for granted. Oriol is right. Either you do it all the way or don't do it at all.

April 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMaurice Mitchell


April 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMaurice Mitchell

There are so many little things that people don't see, thank you for your view.

I was out for a virtual walk today, so I thought let's visit the great A to Z team!

Jeremy [Retro]
AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2014]

Old is the New Cool...

April 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjeremy

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