I was listening to Martin Scorsese talk to filmmakers in Doha recently – not in person via video courtesy of the Doha Film Institute and felt a spurt of enthusiasm again in my slightly flagging creative juices.
He spoke about his own hectic editing schedule and why that limited travel: I am trying to achieve a similar kind of focus against the demands of job, family, hobbies, and friends. And he also spoke about the admiration he had for the inaugural DTFF showing of 1 minute films by local filmmakers, particularly for their “beauty and imagination.” He charged them and all of us hoping to tell stories that showcase the Middle East not to lose this beauty because it is directly tied to authenticity.
I agree with him; I remember attending the preview of these films at the newly opened W hotel and surprised by some of the serious topics that those only in their 20s were tackling. Suicide, risky driving, and feelings of alienation, loss of loved ones: all of it was captured in vivid detail in under 60 seconds.
Scorsese’s quiet enthusiasm reminded me why I got interested in writing for the screen and not just the page. I’ve just started directing an original television series pilot. The idea was something friends and I kicked around for a while. Ironically during my maternity leave, I finally found a window of time to start writing the series premiere. I didn’t get back to it unti l10 months later but when I did and after showing it to a few people whose opinions are worth asking for, I realized maybe this burst of late night creativity had a germ in it.
A group of (yet another) willing friends helped me hold auditions and cast for the 7 parts for the pilot.
Now, if you know anything about television, you know that pilots are a risky thing for the industry. They are notoriously expensive to make and if they don’t do well in front of test audiences, often just end up being cancelled shows that never see the light of day. A month into rehearsals and one filming session later, I have to say it’s a grand irony that entertainment is so resource intensive to produce and yet often and rightly criticized for being lumpishly consumed without any active thinking. Because if you ever wander onto the set of a film or show, the people hard at work there are anything but couch potatoes.
What – I had been asking myself looking at the acceleration of the self-publishing industry – if there were a way to flip the traditional approach to starting a new series? One that wasn’t as expensive, still fun and creative for both the creators and the viewers? There’s a unique plan for this pilot and the series (if we find a sponsor) that involves building a viewership via the web. You’ll hear more about this at the Behind the Scences preview if you’re at the Creative Commons Qatar launch on May 30th.
Scorsese’s collaboration with DTFF bodes well for feature film projects and audiences the world over. Someone of his caliber reaching out to those of us just starting out may be exactly the encourage you need. It isn’t for the faint of heart. But wouldn’t you love to be part of something authentically beautiful?