One of the great things about being an artist is getting the opportunity to create something that is totally authentic, totally and completely aligned with your personal vision. The irony in filmmaking is that unless you are going to run the camera, hang the lights, run the sound, and do all the acting, (which is impossible) it is a completely collaborative process.
Personally, I love collaborating, but there is an art to it, just like there is an art to conversation. In my opinion, the art lies in one single element: listening. You must be able to listen deeply, not just to the words someone is saying, but to their body language, their energy, and all the little hints in how they choose to share with you. If you focus on connecting, and not on “being right,” or “having your say,” then collaboration becomes a beautiful dance – an experience of connecting within an energy field toward a particular goal. I have worked hard at this art, and feel that it is one of the reasons I make a good director.
I had the great pleasure of experiencing this transcendent connection with not only my lead actor, Julian Elfer, but with my DP, Alex di Suvero. Each person has a different way of connecting, a different way of communicating but both are intense and beautiful.
Julian is so soulful all you have to do is look in his eyes and you can see his understanding and compassion for the human condition, but you can’t just jump in there, you have to earn his trust. Conversely, Alex is always looking out at the world (natural for a Director of Photography) and we tended to communicate via the visual of the shot. He, too, required me to earn his faith. I believe that I did so. As the director, my job was to pay attention to their communicating, to earn their respect by being humble and showing them respect… and theirs was to respect and listen to mine. Once we all made that leap into trust because we were all equally passionate and devoted, I believe a greater conversation began to unfold: we were listening to more than one another, we were listening to the work.
On the last day, the three of us, with our fourth amazing, silent, and essential AC (assistant cameraman) Nikita Carpenter, and our fifth incredible team member, gaffer Christopher Bye, the five of us danced together with the Steadicam (a camera attached to the DP that allows him to move with the actor) up, down, and around Riverside Drive. It was a magical moment and the shot was (if you will forgive me) magnificent, almost transcendent of time. This, I believe, was a direct result of co-joined LISTENING.
(Not to be forgotten, we were also blessed with AJ Wilhelm, who ran sound AND did our production photos. AJ’s energy is that of a complete artist and I am so grateful for his presence, his creativity, his passion and compassion for the work. In addition we had the brilliant Nick Stergiopolous as our script supervisor (essential for the amount of continuity issues we were dealing with), the amazing Julie Lucas (“Belle” from “Flip Fantasia” as our associate producer, the hilarious Chris Nunez (“E” from “Flip Fantasia”) and the incomparable Eliana Mullins (our PA and appearance as “the girl on the street” in “Flip Fantasia”) on board running one million PA duties as well as other Secret Stuff.)
This is the ecstasy part of filmmaking: having a great cast and crew, feeling like everyone is behind your vision, and getting to be in the presence of “the extra element.” It cannot be compared to, in my opinion. It is exquisite.
The agony belongs to the physical toll the work takes. Hours and hours on your feet, lack of sleep, lack of rest, and an emotional exhaustion that is hard to describe. The cost is that you’ve laid yourself out 100%, spending vital emotional energy that will now no longer be with you. In short: it takes everything you have to give, right from your guts and your bones. That said, it is worth it. Completely.
I am very, very proud of “Flip Fantasia,” and so grateful for the incredibly support you have all given it. I hope that you will come with me again for “The World of Fuh.” My goal is always to make beautiful stories that will touch your heart and hopefully expand all our ideas about what it means to be human. Stories about love, loss, and loneliness mean a great deal to me, as well as stories about how important we are to one another and how hard it can be to allow love in. I have the deepest respect for humanity and for you, the audience, and will always strive to give you the very best of myself, my art, my thoughts, my words, and my visual expression. You are here. You are human. You suffer, you pine, and you love. You deserve it.
I am lucky to make the work I do. Thank you for joining me and connecting with me to the greater human story. Thank you for coming with me on this journey. I could not do it without you.
PS: You can see more photos on our Instagram page: #worldoffuh or follow our progress on Twitter: @WorldofFuh https://twitter.com/WorldofFuh