If making independent movies was easy, then there would be thousands of people doing it. Over the years, I have always gambled on creating my own future. I started off by leaving school when I was fifteen, and by the time I was nineteen, I thought I was a washed-up failure even though I had photographed the Rolling Stones and done a lot of the creative things I wanted to do. I landed in Canada thinking I was sort of a reject from England and discovered a community that actually supported people who had ideas no matter how young they were. I found a fifteen-year-old who was making sync sound movies and helped him sell them to networks. I was still just nineteen.
I realized then that it was going to be tough, but if you wanted it enough and could figure out how to survive, there was a chance for you to create your own movies. So I put together a hippie filmmaker house. I rented a giant house and moved a bunch of filmmakers in so we could all share the load. If one of us was fired, the other people could support that person. We ate a lot of spaghetti, because it was cheap, but we were able to make movies with borrowed cameras on the weekends. We got the labs to process the film. Sometimes we put the film in the freezer for three months until we could afford to process it. But we put our own movies together our own way and found ways of selling them. Having so little to work with ensure that it was our ideas that counted and not how much money we could spend on them.
I am in awe of what you can do with technology today. There are students now who can make movies on two-thousand-dollar still cameras that have the visual quality of any studio film. You can go home and edit on your Mac for nothing. This is freedom to create. This is an ability to experiment and look at the future and create ways of using the visual language that no one has yet seen. We’re in the beginnings of a giant renaissance. This is bigger than the printing press. It’s bigger than anything. No one quite knows where it’s all going, but there’s a future in it for you as long as you believe in what you’re doing and are willing to work at it and—above all—can find some friends who are willing to work at it with you.
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