I met with my cinematographer Alison yesterday at the Insomnia Café in West Hollywood. It's one of the few good coffee hangout places I know of in LA that fits my requirements: quiet with plenty of tables and couches. Of course, there are plenty of Coffee Beans and Starbucks around but they never seem peaceful.
The Insomnia is a younger crowd than my other spot, the Novel Café in Santa Monica, which has a more eclectic and older crowd. Maybe a little more disillusioned, too. Unlike Insomnia, which is full of young, hip, good-looking people with shiny G4 laptops. Everybody there was typing up a screenplay or doing some work on Photoshop or showing off their latest headshots. I bought a delicious day-old muffin (yes, my current budget does not allow fresh baked goods) and talked with Alison about our upcoming plan to do some spec commercials.
Lately I've been thinking a lot about commercials and how to get into that business. There are several good reasons for it, besides the obscene amount of money that commercial directors are paid. I've done a lot of short projects in the past and I have to admit, I like making short films and videos. They take less preparation, the shoots are short, and the post production is fairly quick. And I actually think I might be good at them.
So I came up with a couple ideas for commercials and showed them to a few people, all of whom seemed to think they had great promise and that I should definitely make them. So I've started putting the pieces together with the hopes I can get them off the ground in the next month or two.
The only problem is... MONEY. I have heard from many that some directors spend upwards of $50,000 of their OWN MONEY on "spec" commercials. That's not good for a guy like me because I don't have any money. Really. So it seems pretty foolish to start planning a two day shoot that, if I'm lucky, will only cost $2,000 when I really should be out looking for a JOB that will allow me to pay my rent and trim down my credit card deficit. Not very smart or practical at all.
Sometimes I think I must be crazy because when faced with such a dilemma I come to the following conclusion: "Amyn, you are a creative guy and need to keep creating work at all times. Your debts at this point are so huge that it is pointless to focus on them. Instead, just keep gambling on the future, make your commercials and then get hired as a director who is so well paid that those debts will vanish, rent will be paid, stomachs will be filled, and life will be good. You have to take risks or you won't get anywhere."
I don't know if that's good reasoning but it seems like the only way to go. Fortune favors the bold, right? If so, I'm definitely due for some attention from Mister Fortune. He's a whole lot more fun than Miss Fortune. (Wow, that was corny.) On that note, I'm done.