A few weeks ago Wayne, a frequent commentor and friend of this blog, sent me an email. Some of you may recall that Wayne made a huge career change a few months ago when he went insane and quit his day job to start film school in Ireland.
His email was about making his first film there. I found it so open and informative I decided to reprint it here.
On January 15 Wayne wrote:
I finally got around to making my film just before the holidays, we edit it in the coming months. It’s only a five minute short but let’s just say I have a new-found appreciation of the time and effort that filmmakers go through. Actually, last night I had something of a revelation when watching your film Living in Oblivion. I had one of my regular movie nights and I invited some friends over, three of them hadn’t seen Oblivion and they thoroughly enjoyed it, leading to their wanting to watch more DiCillo movies.
Living In Oblivion
Anyway, it was the first time I had watched Oblivion since my own filmmaking experience and I was blown away. I have always held your film in the highest of regard, but now I have an even higher appreciation for it; it was like reliving the horror of being on the set making my film and both the dread of endless re-takes and also the humour derived after the descent into madness after a long day of shooting. So, a film I have seen countless times took on a whole new meaning for me.
I wrote this back to him:
Welcome to filmmaking, Wayne. How do you feel your film turned out? Were you able to enjoy yourself?
Would you believe, I had a pretty miserable time getting the film made; another reason I think Nick Reve’s journey resonated with me the other night. Because my script and storyboards were picked by the lecturer to be the film we would shoot out of the whole class, there was a lot of resentment towards me because I had to assume the role of director/producer, or in my classmates’ minds: dictator.
There was a lot of apathy surrounding the roles assigned to my class (props, lighting, grip, etc) so I ended doing a lot of it myself, thank god I had an enthusiastic director of photography, but even there we were going mostly on shots I designed. At one point in pre-production nobody had any prep work done and I lost it, teetering on the edge of Nick’s outburst at the end of the first act in LIO.
I gotta admit, I was on the edge of tears through pure frustration; people in my class now hated me, and still do I think.
They told me not to be so serious, “it’s only for a laugh”, but I felt that since it was my vision and I would be graded on it that I wanted to make a decent piece of work. I hope the tension and apathy doesn’t bleed into the film, I hope when I cut it it will come together. The tension in the class has never been the same since. I now know that film is also a competitive world, even in the confines of a film school.
Nick Reve is now my all time hero! Maybe when I edit the film and can burn a copy I could post it to you, haha if nothing else it will be a fine beer coaster.
I respect and greatly appreciate your honesty, Wayne. Listen, you survived. Just keep going. It is all you can do.
If Nick Reve (Steve Buscemi) is your hero imagine what he is for me. Against my better judgment, and with a million other things I should be doing, I was inspired by your letter to go through the first half hour of Living In Oblivion and pull still frames from the film. They are all in strict chronological order. I can only view Buscemi’s descent into madness with awe, horror, admiration and utter fucking glee. The man is a genius. Watch him.