Before there was a dream of running away to California, before there was three siblings making short films in their backyard, before there was even a camera, there were words. Words were my first love, and they were all I had. Originally I had wanted to be a singer— not because of any talent I possessed but rather that American Idol was at its peak popularity so who didn’t want to try out? After practicing all day every day for a week, my mother was ready for me to pursue a new career choice, something I was actually good at, as well as something far quieter. We had begun the poetry unit in my fourth grade class, filling blank notebooks with rhyming words about flowers and food and other simple, fun things. Words were easy for me, they flowed as if someone else were saying them, and everyone seemed to love the result. Validation was then as it has continued to be now a constant source of motivation. There wasn’t a single person in my family who had something negative to say about my writing as they did about my singing— though to be fair, I really see their point now. My grandma would show me poetry contests, encouraging me to enter. Words became everything to my nine year old self.
It never stopped, only became something else. I was given a camera and the words shifted into directions and dialogue for my younger brothers who reluctantly acted in my videos, their way of supporting and loving me when it was too awkward to tell your sister you love her. One day there was a blank YouTube channel, and then there were hundreds of videos like no time had passed. I taught myself everything that has gotten me to this point, from techniques and angles to editing. My mind never drew a blank, the stories and possibilities whirled through my mind without end; one minute I was a kid who was asleep by eight, the next I was in love with an art that kept my up long after the sun had gone down. I grew up through my love of story-telling.
Filmmaking has taken on a new era in modern day media. Taking the place of film school and escapes to California, anyone can make a movie with little to nothing. As if cameras and computers weren’t accessible enough, they’re not even necessary; a movie could be filmed and edited entirely on a cellphone, on those six inches of screen. When I first had downloaded Tinder to meet new people, the word “filmmaker” in anyone’s bio earned excitement from me. After the hundredth person, though, you get tired of the label. Tired and something else, too, where excitement turns to dismay at the realization that you share your dreams with far more people than there is room for in California, the internet, the industry. Competitiveness has only ever been a toxic trait for me, nothing great has ever come from it. Instead it boils in me, distracting me from what would otherwise be success, had I realized how much time I was wasting watching others do what I wanted to so badly do. I had to escape this feeling.
Sometimes we forget our first love because we felt so mature and so grown with the love that follows. It had seemed as though filmmaking was the answer to every question I had ever asked, though it never was. The conclusion became that my love for writing was only ever the gateway to filmmaking, like the friend who introduces you to the love of your life. Until you remember before they showed up there was your friend, helping you along the entire way. I had to return to writing. Many things assisted in this return— the death of my soul as I failed short film after pathetic short film, friends whose words did not intend for this result but I took them the way I needed them, a beautiful book that became rainfall on the drought that was my love for literature. This combination resulted in the most natural decision in the world: break up with film and get back together with words.
I understand that the collaborative nature of these two mediums might leave some wondering, Why can’t you do both? And yes, maybe some other more talented, more organized person could do so, but certainly not me. There’s another part too, though, that is partially sad to recognize; it is as much helpful to let go of filmmaking as it is to pick writing back up. With writing my mind had never been more clear, a stream of consciousness that hit every point of my brain and resulted in the projects I was continually praised for. Filmmaking was unfinished projects and last minute edits and a lack of every necessary resource to successfully do the job. Between the two I chose the pen and paper.
I will come back to filmmaking. My entire life I’ve looked at the world through a cinematographer’s eyes, and the visual aspect of story-telling is something deeply connected to my soul. But for now I have to return to my first love, who had never left me despite my infatuation with all other forms.
I promise to share what I come up with.
Just some ideas and thoughts I have as a young creator.