How Much is Too Much?

introspection 6 comments

Lately, there have been excesses. Some of the good kind, and some of the not so good kind. This got me thinking, how much is too much?

I just had a much needed vacation. I spent ten days in a tropical locale not doing much other than sitting around with a book and a drink, with a little bit of snorkeling, biking and kayaking thrown in. It was quite relaxing, but my mind didn’t shut off. Rather, as the days went on, I found my thoughts clearer, and I was able to process some things that have been happening in the Causality world and come up with pretty good solutions to some issues. By the end of the trip, I was ready to get back to it-to try to implement my newly conceived solutions, and be better at what I do around here. My “excess” of vacationing was ultimately a good thing, though it was hard to actually get back in the groove upon my return. But I did lose some momentum, and it set me to wondering if the relaxation was too much, in light of all that needs to be done. And I felt pretty guilty for checking out and enjoying myself while some not-so-good things were going on back in the real world.

While I was gone, Glynis had some excesses too. Only hers were decidedly not positive. She’s been pretty open about her mental issues on twitter, and on a Podcast to the Past that we have recorded (but as of the publishing of this post, not yet released), so I know she won’t mind me mentioning them here. I’ll leave the bulk of the details to her, but I will say that her excess was an overdose of prescription medication. Through the whole process of creating this show, she has had to deal with death, health issues, the messed up medical care system, and family angst. Through it all, she has maintained a strong level of professionalism on the business side, and ALWAYS the highest level of artistic effort as an actor/writer/producer/production designer. And she has become a close friend. She amazes me with her ability to pull it together when she has to, but once again, the question of “how much is too much?” comes to mind. How much can we as her partners in this project ask of her, knowing all the other things that she is dealing with? The answer to that came from her: it helps when there is work to do. She is happy when we are meeting, planning, making progress toward bringing the show she created with Montoure to life. Being on-set is best, but those other tasks keep her positively occupied and create an outlet that helps her deal with some of the shit that can spiral out of control when there isn’t much to do. So, the best thing we can do as partners and friends is to keep the momentum going. Not so easy when we’re still dealing with all of the things we’ve discussed before (challenging schedules of cast & crew, not much money to finance the things we need, etc.) But this week we did record a Podcast to the Past, lock three much-needed locations for upcoming shoots, and she did some fundraising research. That kept us busy.

Glynis is now off on a trip of her own-it’s a much shorter and busier trip than I had, but hopefully will provide her with some positive excess, so that she’s in good spirits when she returns. One can hope.

Another area that raises the question of how much is too much is that of free-or-drastically-reduced labor. As we’ve mentioned, we don’t have much to spend on this project, but we are striving for mainstream broadcast production quality. That means we’ve asked some very talented and experienced (and expensive) people to work for little or nothing. We’ve also compromised in some areas, settling for less experienced people where it seemed to be ok…but it wasn’t. We’ve had attitudes flare up on set due to both of these things. How much is too much to ask of our free/cheap labor? And how much compromise is too much, risking the quality of the end product? I can safely say, we have already more than exceeded the amount of free/cheap labor that we’re entitled to. Luckily, our rockstar team is still energized enough by what we’re achieving to keep going-which is good, because we still have 100 pages of script to shoot! (AAACK!!! Little Freakout there. I’m ok now.) I once said that I was sure that we’d make a lot of mistakes and learn from them during the process, and that was one of the truest things I’ve ever said. You may lose sleep when you screw up, but when you’re forced to try to fix the mistake and move forward, you gain not only experience, but pride in your ability to learn and adapt. As long as neither the mistakes or the pride are too excessive, you can come out ahead. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. I did learn that it’s NEVER ok to compromise quality, not when playing with the big boys is your goal.

And how much of this sharing of the intimate details of the problems and challenges of our personal and professional lives is too much? At one point, I resisted Glynis and Montoure’s assertion that people WANT to know the dirty truth. I thought that we should always spin things to make it look easy. But then I realized they are right. Anyone who knows anything knows that doing what we’re doing is NOT easy, so it would be ridiculous to pretend that it is. So we don’t. We tell you when we struggle. We let you know when personal issues are affecting the work. We say shit and fuck, and share details of our alcohol-fueled parties.

Is it all too much? I don’t know. But…we agreed to be honest and open with the community that we’re building about the process of making this show, so hopefully it isn’t.

The point of the sharing is to show that the team making this show is a bunch of messy humans who dream big and make their dreams come true. Messy humans being the key words there, though the time will come when we can admire what we’ve done, have a big party, and celebrate-to excess, of course. Until then, we’ll keep struggling along, enjoying as much of the process as we can. Then, we’ll do something new. That is the way of things.

Posted by   @   May 18, 2012 6 comments
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May 18, 2012
6:46 am

Thanks for being candid. It really does help. Hope things get better for your crew. On the professional front, I would suggest Getting Things Done. GTD is a system that helps you organize your thoughts and your time, getting important ideas and tasks out of your head so that you can focus on other things (sort of the same effect that your vacation had). It’s easy and it’ll probably help.


May 18, 2012
7:27 am
#2 Ralph Fontaine :

Thanks Michael. That’s a great suggestion, I’ll look into it. It’s a challenge to keep things moving with life, regular job & webseries job, so a tool like that would be helpful. We’re really glad that you are following along on this journey.

May 18, 2012
2:15 pm
#3 Ziggy :

So many points here…

First and by far most important, I do hope all is and goes as well as possible for Glynis. Lots of sentences can go here that sound trite even as they’re also true, so instead I’ll just repeat the hashtag she’s used on Twitter of late: #keepyaheadup. And hope that wherever her vacation takes her, the bartender will know how to make a Vesper.

Second, I come from the school of thought that says vacations are not an excess, but a necessity. Which is better: winding down for a while and having all sorts of great ideas pop into your head that take a little time to get working after you return while you find your groove again, or not winding down and never having those ideas happen because you’re banging your head against the wall in a well established groove? I’ll vote for the break and the readjustment period every time. Besides, you had coconut rum with ancient gods. How cool is that? (This reminds me: I’m two and a half years overdue on a vacation for myself… damn…)

Third, I am very glad (and not surprised) that you’re drawing the line at compromising on quality. I’ve been watching independent filmmakers at work since the days of VHS, and I’ll be honest, a lot of people fell and continue to fall off that wagon, and the results were and are never good. What you guys have released so far is excellent, and if it takes more time and pain of experience to uphold the level of excellence you’re shooting for, that’s fine. It’s worth the wait. Sure, I very much understand the urge and the need to “get shit done,” and I applaud that kind of drive, but there’s still such a thing as an artificial deadline. There’s only one correct answer to the question: “Do you want it good, or do you want it next week?” The mainstream usually picks the wrong answer. Your medium allows you the luxury of choosing the right one, and it’s good to see that you’re doing it. Besides, life and health come first.

And finally, there’s your title question, which interestingly enough, you’re not the first indie people from Seattle I’ve seen bring up of late. I’ll give you the same answer I’ve given before: no, it’s not too much. As long as YOU are comfortable with what you reveal, then it’s absolutely not too much. In fact, I daresay that it helps you. Why? Consider…

- If you say nothing at all, people forget you exist. The ones who remember wonder what the delays are for, and having no answers, may just turn away.

- If you say everything is wonderful and spiffy and easy all the time, anyone with even half a functioning brain cell will know that you’re lying. Once you start doing that, everything else that you say becomes suspect. Always a bad thing.

- Just within your own community of peers (who would be better able to see through BS than anyone), how many problems have you solved just by being open about having them in the first place? No one can help if they don’t know you need it.

Now look at your fans, which you already have despite the fact that you’ve only got a prologue and some trailers out for people to see.

- By being open about who you are and showing yourselves to be real people, you are reaching and defining a market that the world’s best agent would never have been able to find for you. Think about it: who’s the most likely to want to watch something that’s very personal to your interests? People like you! By being yourselves, you’re selecting the most passionate and loyal audience you could possibly find.

- I follow several indie people on Twitter, and I follow several “established” industry people, as well; I’m pretty sure that all but one of the latter group have their accounts run or at least vetted by PR people who sanitize the hell out of everything and keep it “clean” and “on message.” Sanitized PR accounts are boring, and I tend not to believe them when they suddenly become excited about and/or recommend something, whereas accounts that I can tell are being run by “real” people grab my attention. Think of it as the difference between getting advice from an ACD recording from Voicemail Hell and getting advice from a human being. End result: when PR Account Actor says “click,” I don’t. When @Montoure says “click,” I discover Causality. (Now you know how that happened.)

There’s plenty more where that came from, but I think you can see the point.

So not only am I going to recommend that you keep on sharing as much as you’re comfortable sharing, I’m going to thank you for sharing. In a world full of fakes, it’s nice to know that there are still real people making a real go of it. And drinking real whiskey. And swearing and shit. Because otherwise, what’s the point?

May 18, 2012
3:42 pm
#4 Ralph Fontaine :

Wow Ziggy, that has to be the best comment I’ve ever seen. Thanks for actually answering the question, and for being so amazingly supportive. I happen to agree (now, anyway) with your statement that being more “real” will help us engage our potential audience more, I just hope that they are openminded enough to not be turned off by our frank conversations about personal issues that have challenged us throughout the process of making the show.

That being said, at this point, I don’t think you could get us to shut up. We even started a Podcast so that we could talk even MORE!

Thanks again for your support, it means a lot. We’ll keep pushing to make the best product we can. Thanks for being one of the most understanding and best friends we’ve made along the way!

May 18, 2012
7:02 pm
#5 Ziggy :

Now I’m a-blushin’. And raising a shot of whiskey to you all.

May 23, 2012
10:18 pm
#6 Greg Marks :

Trust,believe and endure…

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