Many times over the course of my career, I have had enticing projects dangled in front of me only to be yanked away at the last minute. Either the producer couldn’t get the money, or the circumstances have changed. It happened again last week. A documentary that I was supposed to direct (and shoot & edit) went from a “sure thing” to another dud. It’s always disappointing when this happens, but never unexpected. The same thing is true when bidding on a corporate or commercial job. I’ve learned never to count my money until it’s in my hand. Controlled expectations. Never let yourself get either too high or too low about a potential project. Be realistic and accepting of what is. The zen of filmmaking, I call it.
There are two takeaways from this type of experience. The first is to be a realist. Making video is expensive. It’s a long road from the initial contact with a new client to a signed agreement and production. Minds and circumstances can change. The second, and best takeaway, is that old proverb “when one door closes, another opens.” Time and again I have found this to be true. If you keep an open mind and don’t give up on yourself and your business, another project will come along. Many times, the new project is even better than the one it replaced. This week, I had a “sure thing” documentary go away due to the producer’s family issues. Almost immediately, a personal project that I had been thinking about became a real, concrete documentary. All of the pieces fell into place. It is a much more meaningful film for me to make. It features my father and a huge find in the art world. It won’t be a huge financial windfall for me, but it is extremely important to make and very satisfying. Had I been booked to make the initial documentary, I wouldn’t have even considered making such a personal film this year. Every time this happens, I learn to trust myself more. I am flexible and open to change. And that’s a great way to be in any business.