It is true what they say: “You are your own worst critic.’ And therefore, perhaps the easiest way to torture a director is to make her watch her own films with a giant audience… over and over again. Perhaps… I’m not sure everyone feels this way, but for me it is. At least, in this moment.
With my thesis film in the bag, it is time to start touring the festivals and showing it off to friends. This might seem like the moment you’ve all been doing it for, but it can hardly be called rewarding. It’s more like butt-clenching uncomfortable. Not only are you putting the film out there, ready to be misunderstood, ridiculed or even worse… Also, you are coming out of a process in which (hopefully) you grew as a filmmaker. So what you are looking at is the past.
It’s like staring at a picture of yourself 5 years ago; it’s you… and you look alright, but what where you thinking with that hair cut? And why that shirt… did you really think it was a good idea?
Watching your own movie is the same way. At some point, and it will come… It’s so far in the past, it’s not really a part of you anymore. The awkward haircut becomes funny instead of embarrassing or frustrating… But right now, it isn’t.
Do not get me wrong. I love my film. I’m really proud of what we have accomplished as a team and individually. When I look at the film, I see the hardship, struggle and love that went into making it. But I also see where I went wrong. And those scars are still too fresh. They still sting.
My parents are really proud of this film, and started showing it to their friends. Most of them know next to nothing about film making (they marvel at the size of our relatively small crew asking if we really need that many people), and they watch it like an audience would. The verdict is still out. I haven’t seen it with a room full of people who know nothing of the film… bu so far, the reactions have been stellar.
But to me, it is really uncomfortable to watch it… and while looking forward to playing at the festivals, I dread those moments of the screening. I am not detached enough to watch it without cursing my own ignorance. Why did I do these things wrong?! Why couldn’t I’ve been better?! Why did I put the camera over there!? Jeepers, did I really write that line of dialogue?!
It’s those things that still go through my mind when I watch it with an audience. And it’s good in a way. When we just got out of the cutting room, I was madly in love with this film. So proud, that I did not see its weaknesses. Now, I’ve gotten a little bit more perspective and through that I learned and grew. Next time I’ll do it all differently.
I won’t of course. Next time, the screenings will still be gutwrenchingly awful.
You put all that you are into something, and then people are gonna take it away from you and say whatever the hell they please… It’s not yours anymore, it’s theirs… and that is painful. And Wonderful…
And very, very strange.
And I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.