Zen Filmmaking Be Positive

Movies and the Things You Never Know

 Originally from the Scott Shaw Zen Blog

By Scott Shaw
For anyone who has ever created a movie, or any creative project for that matter, there are things that take place that only the people who were there truly understand. For everyone else, it is simply speculation, projection, or guessing, at best. This is why I forever find it troubling when someone describes what took place on the set of one of my films when they were not on the set. They don’t know! Yet, there they are, telling the world what they believed happened. But, it did not.
People believe. That is one of the realities of life. They hear and they think it to be true. But, look around at life. Look at all the things you have listened to. Think of all the things you have heard. How many of those things were the truth spoken by someone who lived it verses how many of those words were simply someone’s interpretation of what they believed might have happened? Me, personally, whenever I hear someone talking about something they have no true experiential knowledge about, I tune out. Why listen to them? They know nothing!
I think to some of the movies I have created or been a part of. There is the completed product. There is what the audience sees. There is what the critics interpret and judge. But, so many times I am confronted with the fact that what people construe, what people think they know about what took place behind the scenes is so far off the mark that it is almost impossible to calculate.
I can think of one film that I have rarely spoken or written about to use as an example…
In the world of independent filmmaking, there has long been this seeming need to bring people onto a project that have some name recognition. This is most commonly done in order to hopefully boost potential sales.  I have never been a fan of this process. For me, as a filmmaker, I have always been much more happy to introduce the unknown actor to the world. Yes, in some cases, I have become friends with, “Name talent,” so that is a completely other ballgame. But, “The Name,” for name sake, in independent filmmaking, has always proved problematic.
I remember my Zen Filmmaking brother, Donald G. Jackson, was at the helm of this one film we created. The shooting title for the film was, “It’s Showtime,” but Don never liked that title so I changed it to, “Strip Club Nights.” The script was written by Mark Williams (RIP).
Don was always a bit Star Struck. Me, growing up in Hollywood and all that… …Seen it all before… Anyway, Don decided to cast Don Stroud. Great guy! Great choice! Plus, the actor who become famous from the movie, Grease and the TV show, Taxi, Jeff Conway for the, “Name talent,” of the film. Now, by this point in time, Jeff had a sorted past and was known to be a problem on the set. Yet, Don wanted him even though I questioned his judgment. On the set, it’s time for Jeff to come on and do his part. He refused to leave his trailer even though he was a paid a lot of money to be there. Everyone was trying to coax him out, to little avail. The guy was obviously high as that is what he did. Don even ended up being a totally dick and yelling at the great actor Don Stroud due to his frustration. If I was Don (Stroud) I would have told him, “Fuck you,” and walked off the set. But, he was a total professional. Conway, on the other hand…
Anyway, Don finally talked Conway out of his trailer. He delivered a piss-poor performance, constantly forgetting his lines, but that is what you get when you hire a person of his mentality. He wanted to be treated like a star. He wanted to be pampered and babied. He was in the film, he was a, “Name talent,” but at what cost?
Now, this is a very obscure film. I could go into what happened with the master copies of it and all that but, again, that is just something that if you weren’t there you would never truly understand. In the past, I have been pointed to people who actually viewed the film and have spoken about this film. All I can take is a moment or two of that kind of stuff because immediately I realize they are totally wrong in what they say. They weren’t there! They don’t know! Yet, they talk…
So, what is all this discourse about? It is about the fact that what YOU live is what YOU live. If you have not lived it, why are you even thinking about it? It was not your life. What you think you know about it is only speculation at best. Why waste your Life Time contemplating anything that you were not a true part of?
Life is about experiencing. Life is about living your life. If you are attempting to live your life via the doings of someone else, all you have done is to turn your life over to them. You are attempting to live your life through them. What is accomplished by interpreting the experiences of someone else? …Experience you have not and cannot ever truly understanding.
Live your own life. Experience what you experience. Don’t attempt to chart the anything of anyone else because you were not there. Don’t waste your time attempting to understand it, because you can’t. All you can do is live your own moment as fully as possible. This is the place/the space; the state of mind where living a GOOD life is formed. Forming the Pure Mind is not out there. …Thinking you know and telling the world about something that you never personally experienced. It is found by living a good life as inquisitively and as positively as possible.
Live your own life. Talk about what you know. Speak about what you have personally experienced. Then your truly knowledge, your inner-realization may be rightly exhibited to the world.

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