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This is an image of me at the site of an abandoned project, only labeled FLOOD Doc in my files. I was taking a break from Paxson: A Home in Common because it was getting overwhelming. What better way is there to calm things down than to start another film project? This piece introduced me to a group of lovely people losing their homes due to flooding. Less than a year ago, the very place I was standing was almost entirely underwater.

There was a tremendous cost associated with the water damage. Long story short, the city-funded levy had never been repaired after the waters rose and damaged it years back. As snow was melting in the mountains, it overflowed the river, filled up several streets, and got into many people's homes, destroying their property. The city pretty much told the neighborhood they were out of luck. Most needed to pack up and leave. Many were never able to return. Like most of the stories I am drawn to, this was not getting much coverage, and when it was, there seemed to be a lack of insight into the people in crisis. I had a dear friend staying up night and day attempting to pump water from her crawl space so it wouldn't ruin the rest of her house. I volunteered to monitor her pump for a few nights so she could get some sleep. The devastation was real, although I was caught by how beautiful the water was as it streamed down the street and covered all the yards. The next day, I put on some waders, grabbed my camera, and started filming.

This picture was taken about a year after I started the project. The reason you see me with crutches is I just had my left hip replaced. A few days earlier, the doctor gave me the okay to put weight on the left leg, and I convinced a friend to grab the camera and start filming again. I knew the water was coming back this year, and I wanted to do some filming before the flooding began (since the city had yet to fix the problem). A few weeks later, when the water came back, I didn't have anyone else to film, so I put on waders once again and shot the footage myself. It was not until I was in the middle of a current of water flowing down one of the neighbor's driveways that I realized that maybe getting the shot was secondary to my safety.

The reason I bring this scenario up is because the picture above shows someone who is hungry. As I write this, I struggle to understand a passion so deep that I would risk my safety and devote myself to a lost cause. I call it a lost cause because, to my knowledge, little has been done to fix the problem. After two seasons of filming, meeting wonderful people, and failing to find funding for the project, I gave up. Many days of footage, thousands of hours of editing, and countless amounts of time working on the story resulted in a few beautiful cuts of an incomplete documentary that few will ever have the opportunity to see.

I've found three elements crucial to making films over the last few years. The tragedy is I'm only any good at one of them. There is the actual creation, which is where I excel. Then there is marketing, which includes promotion and the acquisition of funds. Seeing that I've developed several independent pieces at this time without being able to fund or promote any of them, I'd give myself an F in this category. Finally, there is the politics. This one is tough to diagnose, but I'm reasonably sure I'm bad at it.

Each personal piece I've created was made possible due to countless people's support. No creation can be made in a vacuum, and I'm proud to say I've gained invaluable insight from those I surround myself with. Even when some leave my circle, their contribution is not lost. I consider myself poor at the politics of making films, however, because my process doesn't do a good job of immediately acknowledging others. I'm highly certain of my point of view until I'm not. I stand on my conviction until I've had time to meditate on what others have suggested. Though I can point out countless elements in the final iteration of my work, where others have contributed, they are less likely to recognize their influences. There are the elements I keep in my stories inspired by people who can't come to my defense.  I've faced critiques on my unordinary amount of close-ups for my films, exterior shots that don't drive the narrative forward, and holds on distressing images. However, these decisions weren't made lightly; they came from countless hours of studying the likes of Bergman, Ozu, and Herzog. Yet, comparing myself to the masters creates a wedge between me and everyone else. Ultimately, I come across as a self-absorbed artist who struggles with feedback, pushing others away and attracting even less.

One can not live on the substance of creation alone. Every artist who wants to do anything significant must be hungry, but hunger doesn't feed you. There are countless other elements to the creation process that build sustainability, and my goal is to get better at those things. My FLOOD Doc was abandoned not because it wasn't a worthy story but because I couldn't figure out how to build the connections needed to sustain the project. Even with my current project, Paxson: A Home In Common, the other people connected to it left before it had a chance to get fully off the ground. Thus, it continues to flounder. When I'm passionate about something, I burn hot. This is something I will not be apologetic for. Yet, one needs to find a way to stay hungry while navigating the political and economic elements of the film business.

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