The first article in this column is called “against all odds”. It’s a catchy phrase, I think it was the name of a Hollywood movie. We like to use it when we are talking about underdogs. We like to see people win, follow what they are doing. I’m two years into this project. The project isn not only about writing a great screenplay with the intent of having a large budget film produced. It’s also about how I have had to overhaul my life in order to position myself to accomplish these tasks and unfold this dream everyday.
I just returned from Toronto where for a couple of years I have had my life in boxes and furniture wrapped in plastic, clothes stowed away for a later date. Trinkets and clusters of things in shoeboxes. You know, all the stuff you accumulate even if you do not want to accumulate it. This stuff was sitting there as I have tried to assimilate into a new life, new love and a new culture. This is not North America where people line up neatly in cues, are polite and say “thank you” and “sorry” all the time, this is the old world, Europe, Italy. It’s people are hardened by history, in some ways stuck, in some ways far more advanced at the art of living.
In any case, like anything, you have to take it all in and roll with it. It’s a bit like boxing. You get hit a lot but you keep fighting. I hatched an elaborate plan to go back to Canada and get my “stuff”. I talked to shipping companies, made plans and headed out. You know what I came home with? One suitcase and one box. That is it. My whole life. One suitcase and one box. I described the experience to friends like this. It was like going through the things of an old friend who had died. So few things were worth holding onto and in the end it the box was a little collage of small things I find meaningful. Everything else was sold, thrown out or donated to charity. I highly recommend this experience. It’s liberating. This got me thinking about what is important and what I have to overcome. My challenges with this project are many.
I have never directed a feature film, but I have written three. I am starting over in a new country with a different kind of bureaucracy, but I know more about bureaucracies than I have ever known. There seems to be no money at all for development or production, but I see films being produced everyday. I’m a nobody in the film world, I have won awards but operated on the fringes and now I look to create a massive project.
It’s all so hard, right? Who would support this idea? IN the eyes of many I am really just a madman with no clue about reality. Sure, I have written this column and I even managed to create a few films (with the help of some great people) while here, but a feature film about the life of Brunelleschi? Crazy! I can see why people would have massive doubts. Then I started learning about my mentor in this project, my main character, Filippo.
His odds were far worse. His risk was far greater. He was at the helm of a project that had never been done. Everyone doubted and he was the same age as me when he started, 42. How anyone takes on a project of this magnitude and why used to be beyond me but he did. I like that. I admire that type of person. I like knowing someone “did it” when everyone told them they could not. The easiest thing to do is to say the words, “you can’t” to somebody or worse utter the words yourself, “I can’t”.
What would this city or our world be if Filippo Brunelleschi said, “I can’t”. I’m a humble servant to this master and his accomplishments, the the very best I can do is adopt his attitude and keep working. So, I’m digging and not about to put the shovel down.