What Work Is

8 03 2010

This month we faced a familiar foe in getting the film done – our work lives kept getting in the way of the project.

I’m a firm believer that where you are emotionally and physically when you create a piece gets written into the project and that was certainly the case with ‘Donuts.’ During the week when I was cutting it and recording the voice-over – in our reading nook with an assist from our cat, Ray Ray – I was also working  55 hours at my day job.  Each late night rolled my exhaustion into the next day, until the last night when I’d slept maybe fifteen hours in four days.  Now when I look at the piece – rested and less critical – it carries a certain weariness and seems to be about a certain weariness.  Tang’s emerges as a kind of way station for the worn out and marginalized and that’s certainly how it felt.

We’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating: Michael and I pay for Sparrow Songs out of our own pockets. This involves paying for equipment rental, software buys, travel, etc. along with our rent and food and the occasional gifts for our attractive and bewilderingly supportive wives.

Both of us work in the film industry, toiling away on  outside projects all in an effort to squirrel away a little money and time each week to devote to Sparrow Songs.

For me that means working as an editor on an urban dance movie for a studio.  That’s not to say that there isn’t heart and passion involved in the film – there is, it’s just different.  Films like this are assembly line projects and I’m just one craftsman sanding a piece of the table as it passes by on its way to being stained.  I’m getting paid to be a part of it and people will pay to see it.

Sparrow Songs exists on the absolute opposite end of the spectrum: no one is paid to produce it and no one pays to see it.  That’s all by design but oddly the free nature of it seems to add to its value rather than detract from it.  If we were to charge for the episodes suddenly any criticism or questions about the episode would seem less like the sharing of ideas or inquisitiveness about the product, and more like a customer complaint.

To put it another way – there’s a great moment in the film Rivers and Tides during which Andy Goldsworthy stops in a snow-covered field, gathers two fistfulls of snow and tosses them high high into the air.  The snow drifts back down, refracting the winter light, shining, sparkling.  It’s an action no different from a child working paper into a boat and setting it down a small stream – it has no real purpose other than as both an expression and creation of a certain sense of joy.

To both the creator and the viewer it seems to say only one thing, “This moment, this moment, this moment, this moment, this moment…”


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13 03 2010
Roger

Guess if I had eaten my interview wouldn’t have ended up on the cutting room floor….

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