I applied for a high profile grant/fellowship last month. It’s not a matter of whether I get selected or not (I won’t), it’s a matter of my having that much faith in my work. Faith in one’s work is important.
I have sold a lot of sculpture for someone who was a career paralegal at the time. I have been paid as an actor more often than the average for someone who was a professional sculptor and a career paralegal at the time. Two of my plays were produced at no expense to me by an Equity theater, which is a lot for someone who was a touring actor, a professional sculptor and a career paralegal at the time.
I have sold sculpture, been paid as an actor and received grants, fellowships and residencies. I am at a point in my career as a filmmaker when one SHOULD be applying for grants, fellowships and residencies. However, since I’ve had grants, fellowships and residencies in other art careers already, I am 101% sure that while grants, fellowships and residencies might increase my profile in the artworld, they mostly will not help the work itself like they did in the past in my other art forms.
Theater folks will understand what I mean when I say I’m concerned about “legitimacy.” Non-union actors likely don’t have agents or managers, especially actors like me who work in “small theater,” which one of my art dealers whose husband was both SAG and Equity called “community theater.” Theater folks will also understand why I say “ouch.”
Because I have developed as filmmaker mostly on my own, I have been concerned with, distracted by, obsessed about achieving legitimacy, professionalism and mastery of tech in a way that people who’ve been to film school (whether they finished the program or not) probably don’t. Continuity, in my opinion, is the measuring stick of professionalism in film and also is at the heart of the craft. I believe continuity is never completely mastered because it is an art in itself and therefore, like any art, is always a higher goal to be achieved You learn continuity by doing it – no book can teach it to you – and I have suffered and slaved over it and lost sleep over it. However, my work is being recognized as peer work through official recognition by film festivals that are part of The Industry.
I often tell the story about an art professor I was chasing before I met my husband. He came to the opening of a two person gallery show where my new body of sculpture was being shown. I asked him what he thought of my work – I knew it wasn’t his cup of tea by the way he looked at it and I told him I knew that. But his response to my question was: “Well, I didn’t think you were stupid.”
It’s important to me to keep putting my work before film festivals because I have faith in my work and I know after having achieved maturity in other art forms that I am approaching maturity as a filmmaker. I want to contribute to what I’ve always called the “body of thought” because I know that while I’m not always right as a filmmaker, I am not stupid.