(Below is an excerpt from my updated purpose statement which was recently accepted as a part of my portfolio for MFA candidacy review at the Savannah College of Art & Design.)
February 2013 marked five years since I directed my first short film. Twenty-five minutes long, shot on mini-DV tape, and horrendously directed, it was an overly talky and embarrassingly expository meditation on love, god, and death. That’s right, the future film student’s first student film; I just didn’t know it at the time. The title was Wax and each of its three acts began with a Woody Allen type narration directly to the camera. I was so proud of this car wreck of a short that I screened it at my college’s theater to a packed house.
I was that guy.
Once a year or so, when I get up enough courage, I’ll watch it again with some mixture of lamentation and nostalgia. It’s funny now because time has passed and I have matured as a filmmaker, but the film remains a fixed window into a world I can no longer access. While I find myself oddly captivated by its so-bad-you-can’t-look-away qualities, I always recognize something that is barely there about my filmmaking struggling to break free from the primitive trappings in which it is suffocating. I can see, however slight, the raw ideas, the passion, the innocence of a first time filmmaker totally oblivious to all of his first time mistakes.
When the film ends and the four person cast and crew credits roll, one feeling surprisingly continues to pervade all others. I am encouraged. Not because I think it is a good short film, but because I can see what I was trying to do and say. I just had no idea how to do it or say it yet. Without that film and the following handful of other shorts I directed before beginning graduate school at SCAD, I would not have gotten a lot of those mistakes out of my system. That process would have started much later in my development, further delaying the good work I have now been a part of creating.
This is important because what I have realized over the last five years is that from film number one to film number thirteen (my most recent, Synesthesia), one thing has not changed. My purpose. The reason I made that first short film, the reason I made twelve more, and the reason I will never stop making films, is exactly the same. I believe that film can more purely, more engagingly, and more effectively communicate emotions, ideas, and experiences than any other medium in storytelling. I could recount all of the influential film experiences I have had during my life, but they would be no different or anymore revelatory than those of any other cinema lover. But what I can, and should, say is that film really does just make sense to me. Ever since I saw my first Scorsese and Malick and Kubrick, it just clicked. And it became my purpose.
I want to create a visceral and overwhelming experience that makes someone feel the way I felt when I first experienced Goodfellas or Days of Heaven or 2001. I know. A little far reaching, to say the least. But hey, I can dream.
This is not a statement of purpose. It is a RE-statement of purpose. The same purpose I have had for five years and do not plan to give up on any time soon.