2 January 2008
According to myth and legend, Dionysus:
- represents not only the intoxicating power of wine, but also its social and beneficial influences.
- was also known as Bacchus and the frenzy he induces.
- is the patron deity of agriculture and the theater.
- also known as the Liberator, the freeing one from one's normal self by: madness, ecstasy, or wine.
- the divine mission of Dionysus was to bring an end to care and worry.
- presided over communication between the living and the dead.
Why do I make films? It’s obviously not for the money; Any money I’ve made making movies has been offset by the costs of filmmaking. It’s not for the grand social circles in which I get to walk; living in Boise precludes such behavior, and any such circles in this town smack of pomposity and ego. And it can’t be for the vast amounts of recognition I get as a filmmaker, either. Pushing low-budget independent micro-cinema has assured me a place as a public figure, certainly, but with fame only slightly greater than that of the local mail delivery person (and that’s on a good day).
So why do I make films?
In the last two years, I’ve been asking this question of myself quite a bit. I’ve been asking this question because the community of filmmakers in which I started has transformed into something… vulgar? I don’t know, but it seems that ego and the ability to find the red RECORD button on a cheap camera has taken the place of having technical skill, a sense of cinematic history and theory, and any storytelling or writing capacity whatsoever. Instead, this new wave of local filmmakers has sustained itself upon hype and arrogance, crassness and infantilism. I don’t even know if they’re filmmakers, and I don’t want to be associated with these fame-chasers and ego-mongers. I don’t want to be known as, “that film asshole.” And yet, curiously enough, there are more people than I’d like to admit that see me as such. So be it.
When Small Pond Films was put to rest in the late fall of 2007, it forced me to reflect even more upon why I became a filmmaker, and it wasn’t until recently I discovered that - as with many things - the answer could be found in the strata and recollections of my earliest (and worst) films: While I couldn’t light a room to save my soul, couldn’t get clean location sound , and rarely thought like a cinematographer (much less a low-rent camera operator), I was having fun. Andrew Ellis and I would grab a camera, a cheap work light, cobble together a script, and go out and learn what worked and what didn’t and - heaven forbid - we had fun.
That all changed with the 2004 Pizza Man vs. The Dude. Suddenly monies were involved, and that changes everything, beginning with the transformation of my being a hobbyist into a serious attempt at being a filmmaker. Since that time four years ago, I have worked towards the goal of being a “real” filmmaker, but the reality is that, while I no longer am a film hobbyist, nor am I a serious filmmaker; my position is somewhere in the middle ground between those two identities.
Upon reflection and giving it that ol’ college try, I’ve come to what I knew from the beginning: if I am to be successful in the film industry, then my success will come from being a writer. As a filmmaker, however, I can only do one thing: try to serve the joy of making the film.
Which is where American Dionysus Films makes its appearance. The idea is simple, and came from looking at a picture of a dog chasing a Frisbee: there is nothing better than purity of purpose, the joy of play. After some research, Dionysus seemed to be the appropriate representation of this ideal, tempered with what might well be considered the American ideals of tenacity, capitalism, democracy, and invention. No longer will my films be constrained by formulaic thought. No longer will my films be limited to what may or may not be “commercial”. No longer will I second guess or over-analyze my films. This is not to say that I am throwing professionalism to the wind; my intention is to perfect my craft to the best of my abilities and create films to distribute to the masses. But -first and foremost- these films must satisfy the joy of the artist, for if they have no soul, then they won’t be worth watching in the first place.
For the purity of purpose and the joy of play, I present American Dionysus Films.
2 January 2008