Fear. It’s the quicksand into which artistic impulse and achievement always threaten to sink. I imagine about 70% of the time I’m Atreyu pulling Artax out of its consuming pit. (I use The NeverEnding Story references a lot, probably because that scene was devastating to me as a child and I think about it a lot.) I’m pulling my writing, my work, my dreams out of that all-consuming abyss. The other 30% of the time, Artax and I are riding into the sunset, and it’s so fucking glorious.
So what am I rambling on about (other than a 1980s fairytale which if you haven’t seen we can’t be friends)? How much more would we all get done if it was not for fear?
I didn’t want to do a Kickstarter for Interior Teresa. I didn’t want to tell anyone I was making a movie. My stupid-movie-who-even-cares. There are other world tragedies people should worry about—that I should worry about, too. Plus, I’ve never made a proper film (besides The Doll at 10 about a Mattel Barbie that comes to life to take revenge on dissatisfied customers). I thought, I might have already peaked. What if I told people I was making a film and then I made it and then it sucked? Quicksand, sucking you down! I figured it was better to make the film and then, if it wasn’t complete shit, tell people about it after.
But the fear was not just about whether I’d unintentionally out myself as a hack—there was my debt to St. Teresa of Avila, the inspiration for Interior Teresa. Seriously, she means the world to me. Learning about her changed my life. She got me through my dad dying last year, my subsequent move across the country a month later and the rebuilding of my life from the ground up. I prayed to her daily. I bought her rosary from nuns in Canada. I was afraid I would not do this incredible woman justice. That’s what I feared—still fear—above all else.
But as is so often the case, our fears have little connection to what occurs when we push through them. Keeping the film secret would have prevented my experiencing of the positive aspects of doing a crowd-funding campaign. There’s the early audience building, the ability to create buzz around the film so that if, by some miracle it’s good, you already have people to sit in seats (or these days, tweet). There’s the ability for new filmmakers to come out of the shadows and proclaim to the world that they’re pursuing their passion. There’s the incredible support from family and friends and even strangers that invigorates you when you start to doubt yourself. There’s the fact that people will GIVE YOU THEIR MONEY.
As I mentioned in my last entry, a certain Kickstarter employee convinced me to jump. I leapt. I launched the Kickstarter at Sundance. I forced myself to go up to people, many of whom were producers, directors, actors, composers—people I respected immensely—and tell them about my li’l ol’ short film. It was terrifying. Many people were confused. Wait, you’re writing about a movie? I’d take a breath, ready to explain, No, I’m making one. They still don’t get it. Like, you … you’re acting in one? GAWD! What is so difficult about an actress, turned journalist, who was always a writer first, producing, writing and directing a film and raising the funds to boot?
But the great thing about taking a leap? Once you jump, you’re committed, so you might as well focus on sticking the landing.
As for that quicksand, once I told everyone what I wanted to do (and wasn’t quiet about it, either), I realized I had help. After we had met our goal of $10,000 and the Kickstarter ended, I realized that it wasn’t just me pulling Artaz from the quicksand anymore. I had troops—172 backers, plus the 18 people who were on my team. 190 people were pulling me from the sand. Now, as I move forward with Interior Teresa with that help of those 190 angels, I still fear—I’m human, after all—but I fear less. I keep coming back to why I wanted to make the film in the first place—to tell the story of someone who overcame fear, someone who believed it’s not so crazy to do that thing we all forget to do: hope. I’ll take a lesson, Saint T.
Meredith Alloway is a contributor to Paste, Nylon, Complex, Collider and Press Play on Indiewire. Interior Teresa is her first big film venture. Follow her on Twitter.