Time gives us perspective, and in that perspective, we find clarity.
This holiday season, I have been thinking a lot about the extraordinary professional year that was 2019.
Last year at this time, as often we find in cycles of filmmaking, I kept thinking that I was never going to direct again. Not because I had lost faith in my abilities, but because things had slowed down a bit.
I don't know about you, but for me, in the slowness, insecurities tend to steep in like tea to a kettle.
I tend to go at 100 miles an hour all the time, so even when the accelerator moves down to 50, it feels life threatening. This usually comes with a reminder from friends and family that it is sometimes good to slow down, but I just don't operate like that.
I'm restless, anxious and often thinking about the broader aspirations and goals that I wish to accomplish. It is so easy to look around at everyone else and think to yourself, what am I doing wrong that they are not?
A few years ago, I made a decision to only make films that I can make with the requisite resources available. If I don't think that I can deliver something good with what is available, I won't do it.
Of course, I'm not saying that a lack of resources is always bad. Often, that leads to creative parameters that enable you to do better work. But if I cannot deliver to the quality standards that I expect, and my audience expects within them, I will move on to something else.
This year, we filmed The Sound of Identity and just finished another round of shooting on The American Question, both of which will be released in 2020. Going back-to-back on those films, though very different, have been an incredibly taxing mental and physical process for me.
A friend asked me the other day, "So, are you just doing documentaries now?" I laughed and told them, "No, it just happens that those films had the resources I needed to make them at the time."
Juggling multiple projects, both in production, post-production and development, requires a certain nimbleness that takes time and perspective to learn how to manage. This doesn't even include advertising work that I do outside of films, a separate but similar ballgame all together.
Without that space to evaluate, it is hard to know when to manage it when it all hits at once.
All you can do is focus on the work and hope that audiences will be there to support it. And if they don't, you move along, figure out what you did wrong and go from there.
In 2020, I will deliver two movies, possibly a third that is currently unannounced.
I've joked about having a 20/20 vision in 2020, but it does feel now, removed from many failures and successes, that a rhythm is starting to hit more consistently. Perhaps the slowness at the end of 2018 was a space that was preparing me for what was to come.
Drink up your doubts, keep them in a place where they're useful, it keeps you humble. But claim the confidence and maintain the vision. Sometimes when you're on the road, going as fast as I do, it's hard to look out and see all of the things that it takes to become a ten year, overnight success story.
There are so many things I cannot control in this life.
If we focus on the things that we can, I can only hope it all works out in the end. But if it doesn't, that's okay.
Time always marches forward, and so we have to choose to march on or linger in a pot of doubt.
And together, we'll see what the unknown brings.