Throughout my meetings, discussions, and emails over the past few weeks, I have been overwhelmed with individuals' willingness to show support for Passing Harold Blumenthal. In general, I have found people to be very generous with information and happy to make further introductions as well.
There are, however, some exceptions to this rule. At one of my early meetings about the film, an individual whom I had only recently met said to me: "As you go around meeting people and trying to get this movie made, you're gonna encounter a lot of people who will not be helpful at all. You'd be surprised at how many people want to see you fail in this business." I was actually not surprised to hear that someone else felt this way, but I was surprised that someone used that fact to encourage me further.
I've had some experience with this type of negativity and dismissal in the past, but that's actually not what I care to dwell on in this post. It stinks to be discouraged or to be rejected, but it's adversity like this that defines the accomplishment. It's not supposed to be easy.
I choose to believe that most people don't consciously choose to be discouraging, but are simply intimidated by the proposed challenge of making a film. This can hold true no matter who's dolling out the naysaying.
Whether it's a hot-shot producer insisting that you need A-list stars for people to watch the movie or a cinematographer telling me that I need to have a larger crew for him to shoot the movie, it's all coming from the same place. People are instinctively risk averse. In general, I am too. I'd like to find the easiest way to make my movie just like everyone else, but there's no escaping it . . . It's hard. The producer who depends on stars is really saying, "It's too hard to sell a movie without famous people. I don't know how to do that and I don't believe audiences will see a movie based only on a good story." The cinematographer who doesn't want to make a movie without a separate Operator, two Assistants, three Grips, two Gaffers, and a Swing is really telling me, "Seth, doing more than one job myself is hard. I have a tough time trusting that I can achieve results with less." Both of these statements are fair and the individuals have a case. But they immediately rule out my working with them.
My approach (and my advice to other filmmakers) is to surround myself with people who know how to say, "Yeah, we can do that" or, at the very least, "Let's learn how to do it."
Strangely enough, I've met Naysayers who actually want to work on the film! They don't even realize how negative they are. But any lack of faith can be contagious, so I am better off with a less experienced, more enthusiastic individual.
A director should be able to have compassion for the perspective of others, but if those people aren't backing you and your movie 100%, you don't need 'em.