10:30am. After only four non-consecutive hours of sleep my six-week-old daughter is now finally, blissfully asleep…in my arms. It’s amazing what you learn to do with one hand when you become a mom.
Today I have to somehow find a new sound mixer/designer for my film. Other than creating a DCP (the Digital Cinema Package you send theaters) it is the one thing that stands between “a work in progress” cut and my fully finished first feature film. Say that ten times fast.
Last week I thought we were in the home stretch. I ran to my computer to type up sound notes during naps, I squeezed in 10 minutes of review while pumping, I got up before my husband had to leave for work, sacrificing precious, glorious sleep to get through it all. And then the guy didn’t deliver.
The joke I keep making to everyone is that I’ve given birth twice in the last year: to my daughter, and to this film. After 28 hours of labor and delivering “au naturel” with no epidural, I can say - without question - that the film has been much harder.
With child labor you know the pain is going to be worth it. That when it’s all said and done you will have a beautiful new soul in the world that will melt your heart forever. The sleepless nights will be forgotten when you see her smile for the first time.
With a film, you have no idea what’s going to happen. All of this work - this labor - has no promise at the end. I don’t know if people will love it. I don’t know if it’ll get into a ton of festivals and launch my director/writer career. I don’t know if it will ever sell so I can pay off the massive amount of debt I’ve accumulated by making it.
But even with all of that uncertainty, this labor has to be worth it. Not with the condition that it’s well-loved or picks up a distributor. No. It has to be worth it because I did it for me. Because I didn’t want to make another short film. I didn’t want to keep hoping that someone in this male-dominated industry would take a chance on me. I didn’t want to keep trying to look for “artistic fulfillment” at a day job with a production company that thinks it’s okay for a director to shoot a 20-page day with no DP and a cold lunch. (Who, I might add, conveniently laid me off after 9 years of work when I was 2 months away from maternity leave.) Screw that.
I made this film because I needed to prove to myself that I could do it. That yes, I could start my own LLC, and pitch myself to investors, and surpass my goal on a Kickstarter campaign, and fire an unprofessional actor the day before we start filming, and squeeze everything into 3 days instead of 4 because we lost a permit, and film in subzero temperatures, and fire a sound designer who won’t follow through on the notes you spent precious nap times preparing.
Yes. Yes, I did that. Yes, I will cross this finish line. Yes, I will strap my newborn daughter to my chest and fly across the country to as many film festivals as I can. Yes, I will hunker down in the bathroom with a breast pump before our world premiere and try not to feel like a cow. Yes, I have proven to myself that I can do it. Cause this mama is a movie maker.
Learn more about Amber’s first feature film, INTERNATIONAL FALLS.