Mistakes Overcome by Overflowing Joy

Hop On The ChestI directed a PSA for the Illinois Heart Rescue last week. Due to budget and time constraints, we faced certain challenges that were overcome because of the team’s love of the craft and art form. Not only did we capture some award winning shots, but we also sculpted a piece that will reach thousands of people through theaters and sports arenas by the end of the summer.

There is something very rewarding about delivering a multi-cultural film that will touch the lives of so many people. Especially with a valuable message that impacts all of us regardless of religion, race, or economic position. It was a true honor for me to direct the picture and not only did I have lots of fun making it, I also learned something valuable about what raises and depletes my energy levels.

I’m a director through and through. It’s in my DNA and circulating within my blood stream. It’s an essential core part of my very make up. It’s been a part of who I am since I had my first film experience at 11 months old. And, it allows me the opportunity to do what few other occupations get to do – Create something from nothing.

CJ instructs actorsThe shooting day started with a long commute to the north side of Chicago. Due to heavier than usual traffic I expected to be fried by the time I arrived, but it didn’t play out that way. The two hours were easily bearable, as the anticipation of playing on set overpowered any possible drain. I arrived with more energy than when I started the trip. In fact, by the time I got home in the evening, I had even more energy from the fun we had making our work of art.

I’ve come to realize that when a person does something that is based on who they are, they are energized by it. It fills them up to overflowing and gifts them with an abundance that can be shared with others. All with little effort, as it comes from their overflow.

CJ monitors the ShootAfter the shoot, I visited my mother and sister. Linda asked if the shoot had been that day, since she could see my “glow.” Several other people recognized that same look or appearance in the days following and made mention of it. One woman from the set said that it was fun watching me in my element.

Please understand that living out life in my element doesn’t make me the “Michael Jordan” of the film world, but it does mean I had just as much fun filming as he had playing in the NBA. Some missteps still happened, just as missed shots did – But the team’s love of filmmaking overcame all the challenges we faced.

The most notable challenge was created from my mistake. During rehearsal the night before the shoot, I worked the leads through the choppy shooting process that we would face due to time and budget constraints. My directorial choice made the actors feel uncomfortable and nothing seemed to be working. I was failing, but I didn’t get down on myself, as there was overflowing joy in my life from living in my element.

Dolly move during scene 1Thankfully, our protagonist verbalized her discomfort and it dawned on me that the actors needed a continuity run-through prior to working the segmented sequence. It was an ahha moment for me and I was extremely thankful that she made the comment. We worked the continuity run and my face lit up with amazement, as both leads gave a perfect performance.

The morning of the shoot, I asked the actors who they were and received great character development descriptions and backstory. I then, remembering my blunder from the night before, worked warm-up exercises into the blocking and then initiated a continuity run-through. The next steps were child’s play as the actors perfectly lived out their characters in the necessary choppy shooting sequence.

The executive producer was on set for the initial shots and mused about how blown away she was by our attention to detail. She also commented on how astonished she was in realizing that everything that seemed so natural and real was actually scripted.

The cast and crew did a wonderful job and we all had a lot of fun.

There’s no other occupation that I can think of that brings such joy, while creating a story that will impact so many. I find myself in awe every time I direct such meaningful stories and hope to make many more pictures that will impact our world for the good.

Copyright © 2015 by CJ Powers

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