Friday, July 8, 2011

When Fear Almost Stops You

Many of you who read my blog know that I've worked as a screenwriter (and actor). About three or so years ago, I adapted a one-woman show I performed into a screenplay. The screenplay went on to become a fully produced feature film at On the Leesh Productions. Like any low-budget independent film, it took a long time to finish the movie completely. We had to take other (paying) jobs in-between editing cycles and were forced to turn our attention away from finishing the film.

Then 2011 rolled around and "For Belly" was finally done and making its way through the film festival circuit. Alicia (who produced with me and co-directed the movie) and I wondered, would anyone like the movie? Would it get in to any festivals? In the three years that have gone by since making the movie, both Alicia and I have grown and changed as artists. We've learned more and (hopefully) our skill level is higher. When we look at the movie now we see everything that, if we had a time machine, we'd go back and adjust, fix or completely change.

Alas... no time machine.

We were left wondering then... would anyone like the movie? I can't speak for Alicia, but for me, the fear was causing my stomach to churn. Once we started getting into film festivals, I relaxed a little bit. After watching the movie with a crowd of strangers - and finding out that they liked it - relaxed me a bit more. Then came the request to review it.


Part of me, a pretty big part actually, wanted to turn them down. I went into Alicia's office and told her about the request - hoping silently that she would say she didn't think it was necessary. Reading the fear on my face she said matter of factly, "Julie, it's the nature of the business. It's what you do."

I knew she was right, but the fear! The FEAR! But off the screener went.

As the weeks passed I actually found I was able to put the impending review out of my mind. And then... today... it came out: Indie Cinema At Its Finest.

Happily, it was more positive than I could've hoped and, beyond my elation that the review was so supportive, I feel like I learned something. Had it been up to me, I might have turned the reviewer down because I was afraid. I love doing creative work. I love it more than I can express (which is perhaps sad since I'm a writer!), yet no matter how many years I do it, the fear is still there - looming.

So, if I may mangle the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: do something brilliant that scares you today. You might love what's on the other side...

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