LATE NIGHT CONFESSIONS OF A FILMMAKER
BEING A FILMMAKER IS NOT A GLAMOROUS JOB. During the course of my professional career, I have been stranded by a typhoon in Vietnam with no battery power, and I have weathered, quite literally, every kind of malfunction and inconvenience known to electronic gear.
I have filmed at 3 a.m. in a wind-chill of 40 below zero for five days straight. I’ve been in the middle of riots, rallies, and protests — and have been thrown out of my share of offices — from Boston to Glasgow, Scotland. I’ve been kicked, punched, and called names I wouldn’t dare repeat here. I’ve carried a cameraman down a mountain when he was too sick to descend by himself.
I’ve made films about the homeless when I was flat broke, been asked to produce a one hour documentary about race relations in four weeks, and made a film about the abandonment of war veterans for free because I knew the need was great — and that if I didn’t do it, no one else would. I’ve even been sued for refusing to alter the content in one of my films because I knew to do so would undercut the integrity of the work.
As I’ve experienced all of this and more, I’m not too proud to say that I’ve cried a thousand tears along the way. I have felt the pain of countless people in some form or another — and I’ve truly learned the meaning of pain and death and suffering.
In the middle of editing GENERATION RX, I was working on an emotionally vexing section on ADHD when I received a call from my sister telling me “Dad is going to die soon.” I hung up the phone and muddled to my dear friend Charles Gilchrist, “Death is in the air.”
Dad died four days later.
But I kept going. I’m a humanist. This is my chosen profession. There are people depending on me to get it right — and that is a weight I will always carry on my shoulders.
I certainly did during the production of GENERATION RX.
This is my life — producing films that hopefully resonate with truth and make a difference in the world.
As always, now it’s up to you to decide. . .you always have the last vote. It is you who must decide whether GENERATION RX is a success.
The most difficult aspect of being a filmmaker has little to do with the laundry list of challenges listed above. For me, especially with GENERATION RX, it was all about representing those who had died, and making the families of those victims proud to say, "he really gets it." Those are the priceless moments, the ones that make it all worth it.
Over the past few years, as I waded through the corruption of public officials — and forced myself forward through the mind-numbing deaths of Moms and Dads and Brothers and sisters, I kept one poem with me always. I read it every day and it kept me centered on the mission, and helped me maintain my strength through thick and thin. While it was originally written about war, it served me well.
It reminded me every single day why I am a writer and filmmaker — and how blessed I am to be given such gifts. It reminded me whom I fight for — and why. In the wake of all of the deaths and suicides and angst, it helped keep me focused on those who had passed from this world — and those who were left behind.
With a tribute to Archibald MacLeish, here is part of that poem.
"We were young. We have died.
They say: We have done what we could
but until it is finished it is not done.
They say: We have given our lives but until it is finished
no one can know what our lives gave.
They say: Our deaths are not ours: they are yours,
they will mean what you make them.
They say: Whether our lives and our deaths were for
peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say,
it is you who must say this.
We leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning.
We were young, they say. We have died; remember us."