There's a great term we use, often among actors. It's always, "hurry up and wait!" Actors tend to be the ones who rush to set, do a thing or two, then have to leave... or wait... then suddenly we're rolling, then they have to wait for more adjustments, then make-up, etc. Guess what, filmmakers, we have to do a lot of that hurry up and wait stuff too. Maybe on set it's just "hurry up" without the waiting part, but for development, waiting is a huge part of the process. "Hurry up and wait." It drives me nuts!I find during development, when it rains it pours. When it doesn't rain... there's desert-like droughts. I'm not really sure why it has to work this way, but it just does. I'll explain. Before we had a casting director, we had to submit the script to anyone who'd read it: money people, casting directors, actors we were connected to, producers, production companies... whoever we could get to take a look. That was a slow, slow process, because contacts back then were pretty limited.. Nothing was doing most of the time, and it gets frustrating. Then our casting director got back to us and suddenly I had meetings about meetings, phone conferences, contract discussions, actual meetings... all crammed into a matter of two weeks, maybe less! Then after that, there's so much more to be done. I had to come up with lists, character descriptions, constant contact back and forth... then the script goes out... and I wait... and wait... and wait... hear something maybe... then wait some more. Three weeks could go by before there's any response or feedback, or even news. After three weeks of absolutely craziness to no news at all, it makes it feel like nothing's happening. It took me a while to realize that things were happening, just not on my end or at the pace I'd like. Just because I'm not involved, doesn't mean nothing's moving forward. For all of us dreamers, it's tough to be patient, but we must chill. I understand plenty of people are more, and sometimes less, laid back than me. But anyone who just wants to get going, especially during the uncertain time of development, it's understandable if you can't bring yourself to wait... at all. Trust me, in my experience, most people can't. We want to make our movie more than anyone. That's what all this work here is for in the first place!
And then you find yourself doing things twice, three times, sometimes more. It took me a year to get even one letter of intent from my cast. Some say that's fast considering we aren't fully funded; others say it isn't. But make no mistake, the casting process can be very long. Lists, auditions, meetings, more lists, decisions, agents, managers, lawyers, talking to the talent yourself... it all seems never ending! And of course, if something breaks down anywhere in the process, you have to start all over again! Sounds frustrating? It really can be! Believe it or not, though, it's all necessary. Then, after a whole year of this, two letters of intent pop up. We worked so hard to just get one LOI for multiple roles, and we end up with two literally a few days apart?! It also seems to work that way for the agencies and potential investors too. When you're making noise, people are more aware of you, and when people notice, they respond. When it dies down, it does on their end too. Development is streaky... something happens and it picks up again, but then it could be followed by a lot of waiting.
So my advice is ride the high waves and enjoy the restful days at shore. Most of all, hang in there, be patient, and understand that not all movement has to be intense action. If any of this rings true and you're having this problem, that's probably a good thing. Movement in the right direction, even with some setbacks, is all a first time filmmaker can ask for, right? I mean, we want these problems, don't we? If you do, you're way ahead of the game, and you'll probably stress less over it. For me it took some time to get used to, but I find myself more patient than I've ever been on the road to wrap. We've already established we aren't quitters. We're terrible at it! Now can we start shooting already? Can we? Can we?
Okay, so maybe I can't listen to my own advice. I'm trying, okay?! If you feel restless, then you should try it too! Until next time... do us all a favor: hurry up and wait!