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  • Writer's pictureJenny Waldo

What now?

It’s been a long time since I’ve kept up my initiative to write a post about Movies on Mondays, Writing on Wednesdays, and Photos on Friday.  Days go by so fast and some days are more productive than others but still the posts remain unwritten.

Oscars were Sunday night and it was the first time I’ve watched the awards with my daughter and continued the mother-daughter tradition that I loved so much from my own childhood.  Watching the Oscars definitely influenced my love of movies, the industry, and celebrity culture.  To be able to share that with my daughter reminded me of that joy and inspiration.  At the same time, I realized that what I was doing was not about filmmaking or wanting to make films, but enjoying an event that celebrates a love of movies with someone I love.  What is important to my life, what has always been important, isn’t the professional climb or success but sharing moments in life with other people.

Like many people, the In Memoriam section of the telecast always brings tears to my eyes, but I was even more struck by the acceptance speeches which reference a co-worker or film subject who had passed before the award ceremony.  I often stress about accomplishing something before I die and stress that not doing so is a failure, but these acceptance speeches reminded me to focus on living the best life I can and not looking to milestones and achievements as a measurement of success.

2014 has been tremendously inspiring so far.  I began teaching a documentary class at the college level which is challenging and also reminds me of how much I’ve learned in the last 15 years working in the industry.  Sometimes working alone or outside of the established industry, I question the validity of my experience, but I’ve found that I have managed to gain insight and understanding of filmmaking truths because they are universal whether you’re “in” the industry or not.  Certainly the industry itself is its own universal truth, but I have some experience there to extrapolate.

I’m also not afraid to say “I don’t know.”  That’s huge.  I recognize that filmmaking is collaborative and for good reason.  I can’t multi-task to that extent!  If I did, my projects wouldn’t be any good.  I learned that with my short film SISTERS when I finally found an editor.  I couldn’t do it myself and I don’t think the final product would have been as good if I HAD edited it myself like I planned.  There are segments of my documentary class coming up where I don’t have much experience.  But I have people I can call on to help fill in the blanks and give a guest lecture.  I don’t have to do it all, know it all, be it all.

My main creative focus has been rewriting my novel that began as a 2009 NaNoWriMo.  Now that I’m not working in a vacuum – now that I have a writer’s group for feedback and some distance from the work – I can see the difference in my writing and in the development of the story.  It also FEELS different.  It feels like work.  It’s exhausting honestly because every word has to matter.

I also managed to produce a short experimental film this past weekend too (photo of the Director, DP, and actor above).  I love producing and helping another filmmaker create their vision and find their voice.  At the same time, I remembered how slow production can be.  The creative process, on all fronts, takes time and attention.  Going into production on Oscars weekend brought an additional thrill.  It’s only happened once before in my first year of film school.  I wasn’t jealous or angry or worried or beating myself up for my choices.  I felt like I was making things happen in my own time and in my own way.  It can always be better, more efficient, more successful, but I’m happy and doing the best I can for today.  I hope that it will lead to more success, but I guess that all depends on your definition of success.

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