Indie King John Cassavetes’ empowering tale on making Faces on his terms
Did you know Cassavetes ran a crowdfunding campaign for his film Shadows, got $2,000 out of it, gave it his all along with his team only to see everybody leave the screening room on the Premiere, but for one critic?
Well, I didn’t, and this is only one of the many anecdotes that fill up the 15 minutes interview below, where Cassavetes shares with raw honesty his failures, his undying passion for telling human stories, and his filmmaking process.
It’s mind blowing to see how similar his approach was to the one indie filmmakers tend to have nowadays. Finding money, deciding on a distribution strategy, spending years to complete something that might be seen by none or disliked…
But with Cassavetes, no talk about ‘equipment’ (although I’ll recognize that back then this wasn’t a topic because the choices were limited in the first place). But that lack of need to geek on equipment had the merit to leave room for talks about the collective and human work, and the many sacrifices that making films ask for all people involved.
Solid creativity, no matter what it is, creates more things, more ideas, it doesn’t dissipate itself.
Many things Cassavetes evokes are echoed with current directors, his belief that creativity begets creativity doesn’t go without reminding Rodriguez’ philosophy, and his urge to challenge himself and test his ability to create, Wender’s one.
I would encourage you to watch the whole video, especially the sequence about Shadows that is remarkable too. It was a tough pick between the two, but I’ve decided to go with the tale of Faces filmmaking process and I hope it will leave you as empowered as it left me.
‘We made 8 million mistakes, but it was exciting and fun’ – John Cassavetes empowering tale on making Faces on his terms
“Faces was an entirely different thing [than Shadows]. This was now eight years later, we had all grown a little older, a little more mature, not as easy to jump in, and it would be difficult to go back to the beginning but sometimes it’s necessary for your own sanity to go back to the beginning, to go back to where you started from and find out if you really have it or you don’t have it, whether there really is something to say or not.
And when we started this film, none of us really had very much to say. It took us over three years to make Faces, and at the end of the film we had many things to say, so it only shows that solid creativity, no matter what it is, creates more things, more ideas, it doesn’t dissipate itself.
Many things happened on that film. (…)
For instance, I wrote a first draft, and the first draft was 265 pages long, and it was only half-way completed. And we filmed it. And we decided that if it would film and it would take ten hours, then that’s the film that we were going to make. And that was the film that we were happy with.
So we filmed it, and filmed it, and filmed it, and filmed it, and shot for six months on that film. And it became more than just a film, it became a way of life. It became a feeling against the authority that stood in the way of people expressing themselves as they wanted to express themselves.
It became a thing that ‘we can do that in America, we can do that film without money in America.’
We started that film with $10,000, that film has cost well over $200,000.
The people that sacrificed… I know one man who hasn’t seen his wife for a year and half, now. He is still going out to California while I’m over here making money so that we can go ahead and not distribute the film and not take the first offer that comes by but really do what we want with the film.
So if we want to give it away to Universities, we will do that. If we want to burry the film and never let anyone see it, we can do that. In other words it’s ours, so that if it plays in a festival, fine. If it doesn’t play in a festival, fine. If people love it, fine. If they don’t, ok too.
But what happens is that everyone who was in this film, there was over 300 people involved, can go on with the knowledge that it can be done. Not so much that the film can be a great film or a bad film or a mediocre film, but that the idea that it can happen, that people can go out with nothing and through their own will, and through their determination, make something that exists out of nothing. Out of no technical know-how, out of no equipment.
There wasn’t one technician on the entire film. There wasn’t anybody who knew how to run a camera, walked in and started to read the directions on how to reload it, got a movie hole and looked at it. Did all the things in the world, and we made 8 million mistakes but it was exciting and fun.”
Watch the full interview below, and a great thanks to Eyes on Cinema for sharing it!