Open Thread: Superstitions

I’m back from Knoxville, where I just spent the last month prepping and then shooting a new project. I’m way too close to things to say much about it — what it is, how it went, and so on — right now. As it gets closer to completion I will talk more about it, no doubt.

Aside from not having any distance on the thing, the fact is that I’m just generally reluctant to talk about works-in-progress. This probably seems like an odd trait for a “film blogger” to have. If so, hey, guilty as charged. That fact remains that the only thing I like less than talking about a film I’ve just shot (but not edited) is a film I’m in the process of writing. I don’t have a problem talking about the project with collaborators — that would be counter-productive (and very frustrating for others, I’m sure). Mainly, it’s just a reluctance for me to attempt to define a creative project for others before it has defined itself to me.

The reluctance is also based in superstition. It seems like every time I say something semi-definitively about a film I’m making (especially during production) I’m eating my words within minutes. (A recent example: “I’m glad we’ve now decided which camera we’re renting and we can move onto other things!”)

On the flip side, I have certain rituals that I need to do before writing a project. And there are lucky objects: a brand of pens, old t-shirts, baseball caps.

I know I’m not alone. A lot of artists (filmmakers, writers, choreographers, etc.) that I’ve known are superstitious people — practically as superstitious as baseball players. The cinematographer of a couple of films I made always wore the same t-shirt on the first day of filming. It was a promotional film from a successfuly 90s indie comedy (which shall remain nameless). He loathed the film, actually, but he wore the t-shirt because he figured it would remind him that no matter what, we could make something better.

But enough about me. What about you? Drop a comment if you have superstitions when writing, prepping, filming, or finishing a project — or if you know a good story about someone that does.

4 Responses to “Open Thread: Superstitions”

  1. Chuck Says:

    I don’t have any superstitions when writing–academic articles simply don’t need that kind of magic. But I do have a rule about never setting my alarm clock for a time divisible by two, three, five, or (if possible) seven. Thus, I’ll set my alarm for 6:07 instead of 6:00 exactly. I have no idea why I picked up this superstition, but because it has caused no harm, I’ll continue doing it.

  2. stephen v2 Says:

    I understand the reluctance of talking about a project in progress. My newest project will external funding of some kind and thus the need to explain. I found it challenging to explain what I’m doing clearly while allow creativity process that occurs during the whole process of making the film.

    I also tend to find myself wearing clothes or using items that “feel good”. Not sure if it’s superstition or just comfort.

    I think the underlying issue is the fear that we all feel in filmmaking and the need to create some small taste of certainty.

  3. quinn Says:

    hey paul

    i tend to talk too much. i feed off other people during the creative process and need to talk it out a good deal while writing. I remember asking you about your film a while back and you didn’t say much – now I understand.

    Glad to hear you’re wrapped. Just after shooting is the toughest time for me. I have the rush of watching the dailies – which I love – and then the first cut – which is always painful for me. I love the ‘potenial’ energy of making a film – what could be – it’s tough when you have, what is. Even when “what is” is amazing. I’m sure yours is amazing and i look forward to seeing it. Please keep us posted as you move through post. But just shooting is an amazing accomplishment. There’s always that wind down after the rush, but try to enjoy the great thing you’ve done.

    Looking forward ot seeing it,

  4. Kremer Says:

    Hi Paul,

    I usually like talking about projects if there is a nifty one-sentence “hook’ synopsis. The movie I worked on with you definitely had that, I think (i.e. “It’s about two eighteen-year-old kids who get married out of high school, get divorced at nineteen and deal with being divorcees in their early twenties.”). The new one I am planning and the feature I am trying to complete by the end of summer do not have that. For those two, it’s about the concepts whenever I talk about them to general people (for example, “It’s about memory,” “It’s about the creative process,” “It’s about aging,” “It’s about writers living in Esoterica,” “It’s about fathers and sons,” “It’s about the word ‘revolutionary’,” etc.). I bounce ideas off of trusted friends and get more specific with them than I do with people I just met who ask “So what’s your film about?”. I hate that, just like I hate the question I have been asked six times throughout this past week, which is “What is your favorite movie?” I want to scream when I am asked that! On the plus side, though, I think the new feature is the best thing I have done, and as for the upcoming project, I am very confident. My problem is that I get excited about what I am working on that I will bounce things off of those trusted people too early, and then wind up amending things later to much improvement. I’ve had epidemic sense of enthusiasm that ever since I began writing creatively.