My boyfriend Boris loves the movie. I can sleep at night. That sounds more facetious maybe than I mean it, because I mean it. But sometimes one strong response — he’s a bad liar — is the thing you can hold on to, through the other bumps, other responses. It also means that in the year ahead, I can keep his opinion, his pride, in my head and know that I have an audience. Someone close to me understood what I was up to, and thinks I succeeded.
I have always found in making art that you need to know your audience, and for me, that’s often meant, having one ideal audience member in my head. Throughout college, and continuing in the decades after, for me it was my friend Patrick Santana, who I had been in love with obsessively my Freshman year, but when that didn’t work out, he became one of my closest friends. 28 years later, he still is. Patrick is well read, he likes the movies, he has great taste…and he has nothing to do professionally or personally with the world of film. Patrick is also gay, so maybe that similarity is important for me in terms of “perfect audience” — though I have another great friend, Miri, a straight Israeli woman in her early 60s, who also can play the “perfect audience” role, come to think of it — but these are the people I want to “get” my movie. None of them have seen this one yet, so let’s hope they do. And I guess I realize that my boyfriend has become one of those people too. It’s a nice realization.
But overall, I’m over a certain hump with fear. Last time I wrote, there was a big open question mark. Would the film work? Would people respond to it emotionally? Would I embarrass myself in front of friends and family, and the wide community that has supported me on the film. I felt ready for attack. It’s a certain narcissism that comes with making movies, making art: you actually think people care more than they do, that they might line up to skewer you.
But in fact, now having had 3 or 4 work-in-progress screenings, I know the film works. I know that some people will cry at this scene or that one. That one particular scene in the film — in a hotel room, midway through — will be particularly remembered. I know that people can find themselves, their stories, in this one. Much to do ahead, but something’s working.
On Friday we will be sending the film out to Sundance, and then we have about 3 more weeks before we lock the picture. What’s interesting to me right now is how incredibly random some of the changes, or not changes, can be. For instance, for the flow of the film we were about to take out a long swimming and lakeside scene, and then, by chance, we are in the office of our music editor’s, and she mentions she liked it. So, now its back in. At this point, as a director, you have to be both very porous, and very free with cuts and changes, but also any choice you make is ultimately your own.
What’s most moved me this week, to the point of a small tear shed in the back of a New York City taxi cab the other night, is the support I continue to receive from people for this film. It’s sounds hokey, but I’m at the age — middle age, 45 — when I don’t expect people more experienced than me to take me under their wings. But it is happening. The great team Suzana Peric and Sue Jacobs, music editor and music supervisor, respectively, have come on to the film with a passion. I’m sitting in Suzana’s office, looking at her framed oversized-album cover for Something Wild — the first film she worked on — and I feel a part of a continuum, a great history. It feels like an old-time independent, NYC Downtown spirit. We help each other out. We make things. We’re New Yorkers!