I finished my film! Now it's back to work on my film.
It never ends.
I started work on my documentary film, The Mostly Serious History of Wine, in the spring of 2020. I put it on hold for a long time to work on Grievance Gulch. I finished that in August of 2022 so I went back to work on the wine thing.
At this point I got trampled by a tower of giraffe.1 Okay, that’s a lie, but another film project came along, Charlie’s Electric Car, and I needed to get started on it before their race in December, so the wine doc got shelved again for a few weeks.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “Wow, I wish I could help this guy make art,” I have some great news: You could become a paid subscriber!
I Just Need One More Day You Filthy Giraffes
I needed one more day of shooting on the wine doc at a real-deal studio so I could deliver some pieces directly to camera to, sort of, tie the whole thing together. This week, the moment finally arrived, and I got the time I needed.
My favorite thing about this process is that whenever I put my foot into a hidden puddle of sewage, the prevailing sentiment from the universe at that moment seems to be, “Oh, you didn’t know about the sewage?”
Your boy trods in a lot of metaphorical sewage. But on the plus side, maybe some of it is just gazpacho.
This Week’s Sewage
The issue at the moment is that my running time is not long enough. If you do 14 quintillion searches of the internet to ask “how long should my film be?” the answer you are most likely to get is, “Whatever feels right.” If you’ve ever asked for dating advice and been told, “Just be yourself,” you know how to feel about that.
If you dig a little deeper you’ll learn that most festivals consider a film under 40 minutes to be a short. Over 40 minutes is a feature. You’ll also learn that it’s suicide2 to make a film between 10 and 40 minutes long, because festival producers want to program as many films as possible into shorts blocks, so if your short is 20 minutes long it has to be twice as good as any other two 10 minute shorts.
Mind you, I have no idea if any of this is true. The motivations of festival programmers are opaque to me. But I do get the message that I need to make a feature length project. That makes sense to me, as someone who has written quite a few novels.
It’s hard to sell a novel but impossible to sell short stories. And, since I’m making a doc modeled after PBS docs who seem to run 45 minutes or so (one hour minus 15 minutes of commercials), I decided to shoot for 45 minutes.
What’s That Splashing Sound and Why is my Foot Wet?
I have come to find out that if I want to get any kind of distribution deal my options are seriously limited at the 60 minute mark. So, it’s back to the proverbial drawing board.
Can I whip 15 more minutes of running time out of my bo-honkus? Of course. I am a writer. Coming up with this stuff is my whole thing. And if I grit my teeth just right and squint, I might be able to look at this as yet another valuable learning experience.
I am ready to be done with this for a couple of reasons. First, I think it’s great and I think you guys are going to love it. That, and I’m, as always, ready to go on to the next project.
Thanks for being with me, gang. I really appreciate it.
Collective noun, mother flippers!
Sewage-cide? I could have made that joke. You know I could. But I didn’t.