April 5, 2013
Editor's note: Fact about indie films: we usually make them with our friends. Those friends become close friends, and often become lovers and spouses, and we've probably all been on set to see that go sour. Some filmmaking couples agree never to work together. Bodine Boling wrote, stars in, and is editing Movement+Location, which her husband Alexis directed and shot. They shot 112 pages in 18 days and are still married. We want to know how.
I want to say first that it was a gift to make a movie with my husband. I came back to that thought a lot when we were in the thick of production, both of us feeling misunderstood and unappreciated. Gratitude is a good way to find center when all else is cratering. It bailed me out of stress-induced derangement more than once.
If you find yourself about to get into something similar, I’d warn you that production with a loved one feels a bit like the worst parts of getting a tattoo. It can be painful, enormously so, and you’ll question whether you’ve made the right decision, and well-meaning friends will be like, No, but really? You’re sure you want to do this?
But if you get the chance, take it. Sharing what matters most to you with the person you most love is something almost no one experiences outside of parenthood. And the end result could be something you’re proud of for the rest of your life.
I have three pieces of advice:
1. Bring in an outside producer who can break ties. You need to trust this producer and they need to feel comfortable saying no to both of you. This is the person you’ll call when your spouse hasn’t responded to an important email even though he promised he would and you don’t want to be accused of nagging. This is the person you’ll pull aside on set so you can vent while the next shot is being set up. It will feel like this person is saving your life, but they will actually be saving your marriage.
2. If something is said to you that can be interpreted two ways, assume it was meant in the way that doesn’t offend you. This is hard advice to take but will make your life ten million times better.
3. Making a movie requires a level of confidence that is brutal to maintain. Remember that the person in the room it’s easiest to get mad at is also the person best able to help you cope. You both understand how hard what you’re doing is and how much it matters. Give the support you want to receive and watch it come back.
And look forward to production ending, which it will, because that’s when people will start telling you how cool it is that you were able to make something with a loved one. This sentiment will be absent on set, but trust that it’ll come. What you’re doing is wonderful, all difficulty aside. Enjoy that if you can.
I promise it’s worth it.