Friend or Foe: My First Film and the Imposter I Became
Ill-guided self-promotion or delusional egotism, call it what you will. But today I want to talk about my first attempt at making a film. Going through my YouTube channel, a predominantly but purposefully recreational site for myself, deleting all the watched videos on my watch list and privatizing as much of my liked content and playlists as possible – my interests are varied but possibly borderline/criminal with regard to half an hour serial killer and unsolved mysteries top tense- I discovered my short film posted on my channel. Watching it again and cringing, it had me wondering if I had progressed very much from this point.
The film was called Friend or Foe. It was black comedy about a pair of friends on a rainy day playing various games. However as they grow more competitive, so do the games they play become more deadly. The first thing I thought when seeing it again was: what a mess. Made on an Introduction to Filmmaking course and eventually edited in its finished form by myself about a month after the conclusion of that time, I thought I’d conquered many of its shortcomings.
It was new to all the crew I worked with too and shot in about two hours one evening; I’m amazed we managed to get any decent footage considering the experience I have now. There was pretty much one week to prep the script, find props and storyboard the whole thing into an achievable project. To think of the storyboard I walked in with; if we could have made that film I’m sure it would have been impressive in itself. Not to mention my understanding of licensing. A silent film predominantly anyway but when I wrote it I didn’t even think about the fact that it would need music or something more than just awkward silence. Nor did I think how I would get it. That’s why I slapped a couple of royalty free, old, classical pieces on it and called it quits.
So many of its flaws fall in the beginners category, it’s a shame that with that knowledge I still cringe at it. The writing is mediocre at best and there is a blatant display of a director with minimal clue what she is doing. I don’t even know where to begin with the editing – saturated and drained of colour, I must have just discovered how to play with it. Why I didn’t think to make it shadowy, high contrasts where I could rather than highlight the fact that all the scenes are over-lit is proof how dopey I truly can be. Credit to the crew and performers, though. They did their best with the time and considering they were working with me.
What was I like as a director, I wonder? I know what I was like on later shoots, how nervous I was. With hindsight, I realize I suffered all through Film School with Imposter Syndrome – when a person believes that they have no right to be in the environment or field that they are in despite their hard work or abilities. What I do remember from this shoot was how confident I was following my idea being picked. Why could I feel that then? Why did that work for me then?
By Film School, I was convinced every time my work was chosen for a project (Three times is pretty good going…), that mine was picked for all the wrong reasons. I felt the School chose them because they were easy, unproblematic and unadventurous rather than decent projects with potential. I would see the projects that didn’t get picked, no matter how undeveloped or unrealistic, and believe that my idea was inferior to them and that I was disliked for my work, that people then resented working on my film because better projects were overlooked. Faulty-thinking? I think so.
But when I made Friend or Foe, I wasn’t really comparing it to any other work. I had my cinematic inspirations, but with regard to the people in the room – they had their work and I had mine. Where did that go? When I joined a room full of students everything became real, I guess, and no longer did I feel competent enough beside so many creatives. Did I ever feel like one of them? In moments, I suppose so.
Leaving, graduating with a First, moving away from home, finally settling into some form of writing comfort-ability and realizing that I can do a lot of things if I set my mind to it, I’m beginning to see how warped my view of things were. Not to say it hasn’t vanished. I still have many a day where I feel like a joke, a fraud and a failure. More than I wish to admit. But it’s those days where I need writing most. I need fantasy and fiction and film most. Because by watching something great or reading something wonderful, I remember why I love this. Why I’ve always wanted to do it. Why I wanted to do it at ten years old and why I want to do it at twenty-four. And that ‘want’ makes me feel more real than any Film School lecture ever did.
I’m still learning. That is a wonderful thing. Film School made me feel like once it was all over, I had to know what I was doing. No one ever said that it was a lifelong journey, and that there’s no set day for when you are meant to reach your goal. I discovered that through the ultra-talented, great friends I made and the wonderful support from my ever-tolerant family. They all believe in me and I’m starting to believe in myself.
So looking back on Friend or Foe with its dreadful framing, editing and look - the beginning of my Film School journey, but far from the beginning of my writing journey - I’m training myself to avoid the cringe. To admire the potential. Somehow the thing got over 200 views and I don’t know when or how. Probably ten of those are my own; over the past four years at various times I remembered it. I’m not sure why I try to forget it. Like all things, you should remember the past because that’s where you learn and grow. You can’t pretend it didn’t happen, you can regret it all you want but that is now a part of you. Use it, utilize it. I’m trying to. It will make my writing greater, expand my creativity. It’s made me who I am. I don’t want to be an imposter anymore because I am a writer.
Check out the film, get it more views, tell me what you think, enjoy it for the mess it is because I sure do! Let's have a laugh about it!