There is no progress without time and aging is part of it. I’m turning 40 and I guess that’s ok as long as I have a few irons in the fire. As the youngest of three I’ve always felt “younger”, like I didn’t know as much as my brothers or that I was constantly behind. 40 is a kind of standard for admitting that one is middle-aged and it’s a bit of a bummer. My birthday is on January 20th. In that past it has been associated with the presidential inauguration and even sometimes MLK day. For the past 8 years at least it was kind of cool with Obama and all that. This year for my birthday I get a bit of a shit sandwich with the inauguration on Donald Trump. My ninth film co-directed with Ken Powell is coming out on Blu-ray soon and has already been featured on Amazon Prime. The reviews have been solid and I really could not have asked for more. The film VHS Massacre: Cult films and the Decline of Physical Media bares a harsh truth, it is nearly impossible in the U.S. for a low budget indie filmmaker to make a living off the scraps of streaming revenue share. There does come a time, as an artist when you do have to dig in and improve the conditions of your day job even if it takes years. I have been lucky in that, working in a college film department has a tremendous amount of crossover with filmmaking.
So from here you start asking yourself what CAN I do here? In my over 20 years of filmmaking I have always found a way to make and “sell” feature films. I feel like I’m good at creating opportunities. I could get a movie done in a way professional enough to “sell” for distribution (at least contractually) and get them to market. Right now I can’t see a path forward for progress at this point but I could make another one the same way. I’ve done the corporate thing working at CBS, NBC, Fisher Price etc. I’ve worked with the famous Indie film studio Troma Entertainment and Lloyd Kaufman on several projects. It was a dream come true but it’s not something you can make a living on. Even the podcast that I host (New York Cine) with Dave Leute, Ken Powell and James Richardson was a top ten podcast for the third year in a row on Podbean but where do I go from here? Sometimes I have to ask myself, to what end?
That being said I will always make films but now I’m looking at opportunities that are ACTUALLY around me. I’ve been going back to school for about 3 years now. I finished taking two classes the Graduate Center (CUNY SPS). This means just two more classes and I’m finished with another degree, a B.A. in Media and Communication. Also I started the application process for my MFA degree. So with some luck I’ll be starting on that this year. I think about how I want people to think of me and what they would call me. A film director? A teacher? In the summer I’ll start lecturing my first class in the CUNY system. And three years from now when I finish my MFA, I could go from Lecturer to Professor in theory. This is something I’m willing to hard work for. Over the past few years this desire has been slowly growing to a point where I must do this, I must be this. I’m hoping the MFA program with take me in a new direction with my filmmaking. Sometimes in being forced to do projects you really break outside of your comfort zone. Currently I’m a tenured Senior Technician in the CUNY system and although I do teach students in the lab I’m looking forward to running my own classes. I can not help but be obsessed with titles. One thing I like about education is that if you put the time in, do the work, you get the degree. You certainly have more control over things than you do in the success of making and selling and Independent feature. As an artist, if I’m being honest, I made those films for myself and now I want to go to get my MFA for myself. I think we all have to hang in there, don’t let the election get you down, work your opportunities you have or make new ones.
There is no progress without time and aging is part of that, from a brand new baby born, to an old man’s dying breathe. I’m turning 40 and I guess that’s ok as long as I have a few irons in the fire. It also doesn’t hurt that I have an amazing Fiancee as well.