Let's have a cathartic moment together. Join me in this article by listening to my favorite song, Bout Ta Bubble, by Tech N9ne, on Spotify by clicking HERE!
The time has come. As a new filmmaker in 2014, I'd have never thought I'd get a lucrative job offer. In 2018, it happened. I was being pursued for a cinematographer's position for a show on the Outdoor Channel. I gave solid interviews, in my mind. Though, I always worry I say too much. But, the world is full of people who don't say enough about who they are, so I subscribe to being inside-out. I learned a lot of this type of lifestyle from my parents, as well.
My mother is a nurse and has dedicated her professional career to taking care of people who can't take care of themselves. She's the light in all of my darkness. She is the perspective I desperately need but can't find for myself. She taught me to be as transparent as I can while also keeping my job in the process of expressing myself. I am a failure in that area more than I ever admit, and it is the nature of my being to be transparent, nearly to a fault. The great thing about being some type of way is the ability to not be that as long as one tries.
My dad, he was quiet. I never got it. I never understood how he could be so quiet and get his point across. I've learned that in the years after his death. It's too bad I learned remotely while he was still here. Learning from him directly and acting on his behavior would have certainly gotten me out of several issues on my job. I mean to say, there are several instances where I was fired from a job or quit because I said too much, for too long, to the wrong people.
My favorite musical artist of all-time, Kansas City's own Tech N9ne, emboldened me to be transparent. As a friend, when I'm around him, I'm reminded of the fame of popularity and the right way to pursue it. He's a nice guy who has worldwide fame and can talk to anyone from any walk of life and come off as relative to their plight. He's emotionally smart, and he knows his weaknesses. I disagree with some aspects of who he is, and that's okay. He probably wouldn't like how much gas I have after eating ice cream. We all have flaws.
I didn't get the job, by the way. Even after all that talking and interviewing my skillset and personality, I wasn't the right fit. In my mind, it's likely because I don't hunt. Why would a hunting cinematographer need to be a hunter? I'm not sure. As with any job as a cinematographer, personal experience in what you're filming is irrelevant. You build your skills in a way that rounds you out to any requirement to film. You are the camera. You make the money. You pay the bills. You take another job. There's no need to be inherently involved in what you're filming. It's not required, like a chef's tip jar on a buffet counter. It's probably my skills, if I'm being honest. Maybe they didn't like the skills I come with. Maybe I said "uhh.." too many times during the interviews. I don't know. I can only speculate given I got the very basic "thanks but there's someone better for us" reply email, not a return phone call. I was shooed away by an email. Email is the life's bread of the media world in that its primary use is to sidestep confrontational conversations. I prefer phone calls. I accept I can't control how I'm contacted in the future.
I'm embittered, absolutely. The kind of money they were offering me was the lowest median for cinematographers in the Midwest, $30-$35k/yr, but that kind of money would pay some serious chunks out of my student loans, making way for the feeling that not every job I took as a filmmaker would be to keep me paying off my bills until I died. I could make some serious moves on my hot rod Chevy, which currently sits depressed by engine fatigue. I could've started my business outright by buying equipment and maybe even a brick and mortar location to hang my logo. Those things will wait. It's not my time to flourish monetarily yet. I'm sure it will happen, maybe. Maybe one day I'll take a director's job making a movie I care about, and my pay will be a few million dollars and I'll read this and be reminded of my first time. I hope so. That's the goal, all this writing and catharsis and sucking it up. I figured up my bills and the amount of hours I'd have to work and what I'd have to be paid in order to pay off my $53k in debt: $132.50/hr for 400 hours. Shit.
The narrative filmmaking I'm currently involved in is a tremendous undertaking. I am the cinematographer for a short being shot in rural Missouri in March, I'm teaching my brother-in-law how to write scripts in the proper format he will need to create them right, I'm building a short film I intend to pitch to Tech N9ne in the summer, and three other shorts that are in various stages of development need my attention every day. I am not wanting for projects. But, like so many other filmmakers, the struggle in making these films is somehow sustaining yourself through the craft. I can't do that yet, not really. I work in a career that is adjacent to filmmaking. For that, I am very happy. I have time to work on concepts, lookbooks, and a host of other requirements for the film in March. I have time to breath and check myself when I feel overwhelmed by the prospect of becoming a full-fledged professional cinematographer.
I'm not ungrateful to have been pursued. I felt like I was an important cog in the overall machine, being contacted randomly and having spent time with people who are interested in how I shoot film. That was truly an amazing experience. I learned a lot about what I will do, where I'd be okay to move to, what I'd consider shooting and what I absolutely wouldn't. I never had moral or ethical issues with filming a hunter in the act of killing deer for sport. The argument of sport v. survival is something I have a slight commitment to, but aside from outright shooting porn, I will shoot anything... with my camera. But, I'll tell you this: if I don't come out of this hole anytime soon, I might find myself shooting porn on a Panasonic DVD handheld camera in the bedroom of some rich sex tycoon, so long as my bills are paid, my mom is taken care of, and my car is running.