Wrapping up Carrot Cake [Part 2]…continued from Wrapping up Carrot Cake [Part 1]
Rule Number #3: Never accept ‘No’ for an answer!
In the course of your journey as a filmmaker, you will get rejected over and over again, and over and over again, and over and over again. It is important, in the face of such pessimism, to find a way to keep going, to never take no for an answer.
There is always a way to get something done and if someone says ‘No’ to you, then you just have to find another way to get it done. It is a standard that I set for myself just as it is a standard I expect of those who work with me on set.
Artists often talk about their ‘big break’, and how they are waiting for it to happen, but what people fail to realize is that this ‘big break’ doesn’t happen over night but over a course of several years. It sneaks into your life and for the most part you won’t even realize it has happened. A ‘big break’ is earned, it is not something that is won, like the lottery.
Art is, first and foremost, a discipline. You should be putting in at least as many hours as your other friends who are accountants, lawyers, bankers; whether it is writing, or reading, or maintaining a full time job so that you can practice your art at night. You need to be disciplined. I have many friends who are closet artists, who hold a day time job so that they can paint and dance at night, who refuse to pursue a career in the arts for fear of tarnishing the purity of their art form. I admire them because they constantly practice and love their art more so than many other ‘artists’ I know. If you want to pursue a career in the arts, you have to be ready to put in the hours, constantly.
It is insanely tough being a filmmaker in Singapore; I dare say more so than it is to be one in New York or in Los Angeles. And yet, I take great joy in practicing my art under such constraints cause it forces you to think and therein lies the heart of artistic creativity.
But at the end of the day, it is important to remember this much: Films are about life, just as filmmaking is about living and while it is the most fulfilling thing to be immersed in the practice of your art, it is my belief that you should not allow yourself to be completely consumed by it.
All in all, with the benefit of hindsight, there are many things that I would have done differently in the production of my first feature film, but rather than make this my public execution, I much rather save it for a more private forum.I have provided rather broad strokes on what it takes to get a feature film done in Singapore, and if you should need further elaboration, please do not hesitate to email me.
Michael Wang is the director of the film The Carrot Cake Conversations, and is currently enjoying his time (or rather, holiday) in New York.