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screenwriting

SamChat: The Rose, Bud, and Thorn of “Later” 1024 627 samantha

SamChat: The Rose, Bud, and Thorn of “Later”

Something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is the idea of “later.”

I’ve been reflecting on my growth as an individual these past few years and I think, as many of us do, that we spend a lot of our lives waiting for later. When I think about the various growing pains of my life and how waiting for that often distant future comes into play, it’s clear that the idea of later has been and continues to be both a blessing−a comforting idea to hold onto−and a vice, doing nothing but blocking our successes.

Everything I’ve ever wanted has been on the other side of later. There’s a long laundry list of items that are just out of reach, that linger in that later period.

If you’re in the film industry, we can agree that it’s the toughest industry to break into. It’s even tougher fighting against the mental timeline we gave ourselves at some point. However long I thought it might take to get noticed in the film industry as a writer, an actor, a producer, a creator… I should’ve doubled that. Maybe even tripled it. “Return to the work. Just keep coming back to the work,” is an all too familiar mantra. It’s about the passion and love we have for the work, yes, but it’s also our lives. It’s  the uphill battle of trying to wrap our heads around the dance of livelihood and craft, survival and passion. For those of you who read this and instantly feel that painful pull in your stomach, nodding your head in agreement with this struggle, you’re not alone. We know that all too familiar pain of watching someone the same age as us getting to live out our dreams. Comparison is the thief of joy but there are days that are so much harder to keep our heads down and focus on the work, and that’s the truth.

I’ll be able to get an agent later when I have enough footage on my reel, enough credits, enough training. “Just book a couple guest-star roles on television and come back later.”

I’ll be able to send my screenplays out to the industry later. But first, “Do you have an agent?”

I’ll be able to start production on my web series later. But first, I’ll need to find funding.

I’ll be able to grow my blog into something bigger (whatever that meant at the time), but not right now. For now, I’ll just share my thoughts, figure out my most authentic self and what I want to share on this platform.

I’ll get a better job later when I’m able to find the perfect balance between what I’m doing now and what I want to do.

But no matter what industry you’re in or what your passions are or what your life looks like right now, I know you can relate to this. As time goes on I realize the only thing standing in between later and RIGHT NOW is me. I believe wholeheartedly in creating opportunities for ourselves and every day that I don’t take one small step towards my goals, every day that I put things off for later, is a missed-opportunity, a missed-connection, another step in the mud slowing me down.

The longer we tell ourselves that we will start taking forward-moving action toward our dreams later, the closer we get to never. But the biggest thorn in my side is that later has never been my first choice, yet often my only choice. I don’t think we should make later the starting point for our goals and dreams, but even when we give it all we’ve got…later is still the best we will get in return and sometimes it’s about being okay with that. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? This has been one of the most frustrating things in the world. I can’t say I haven’t resented later, but sometimes, later is exactly what we are supposed to wait for. Like my acting teacher Stephen says: the path you choose is the journey you take.

So, in this funny, kind of lovely, catch-22 of later, waiting for things I want has also taught me so many lessons about being patient and believing with the utmost conviction in my purpose and plan. It’s taught me so much about believing wholeheartedly that everything happens for a reason and this is my “bud” of later.

This year later has also become the place I find solace in. Knowing that good things will come later if I can stick it out through tough seasons is comforting and hopeful. Knowing that if I put time and effort into my relationship, my friendships, my projects…what I so desire in later will come, likely without me even being aware that it actually transformed into the present.

This year when my relationship was thrown into navigating living in different cities, I wasn’t sure how to face the mountain of later. How would I deal with this new terrain of not only being unsure of what later looks like, but having the patience to sit in this season of unknowns? I’ve learned so much about having faith in that later period. Putting time and effort into a relationship where you don’t live in the same city means that the time when you’ll get to be together later is what keeps you going, is what keeps you happy, is a comforting place to look forward to. Supporting each other wholeheartedly, rooting for one another’s success and individuality in life, and still knowing that you will come together later is beautiful. Dealing with later has shown me now more than ever to be present. It’s not easy, but every day I’m learning not to worry so much about later. And so, in these trials of life, I flip the coin over and see the silver linings in later.

Later has been the thorn in my side and the muck I’ve had to wade through to understand that now is as important as ever. In realizing that, later has also been my rose, my small little win, and my bud, a new idea that’s blossomed into something much greater. Later has also taught me that when everything is right, the things in my life eventually do fall into place and invest back into me, love me, and open up towards me just as strongly as I wanted them to. They will for you, too. There are lessons in life we will learn over and over and over again. This is one of them. We just have to be patient and wait it out for when later becomes now.

1-minute short film
What I Learned from Making a 1-Minute Short Film 1024 539 samantha

What I Learned from Making a 1-Minute Short Film

Last year, I wrote, produced, and acted in a 1-minute short film alongside some talented filmmaker friends of mine. We came across a 60-second film contest put on by Moet and immediately hit the ground running with this idea. The challenge was to create a short film around the theme “this is your moment.” It was one of the most amazing experiences to date!

First and foremost I learned that a great idea, even a 1-minute idea, takes time and effort to become a clear, succinct story. My friend and director of the film, Jonathan Coria, met with me one evening and we hashed out a vague idea I had. A few hours later, we turned that vague idea into a short (very short) story with an arc and inspirational ending. One thing I learned was that no matter how “small” a project may be, it still requires a lot of time and effort. Treat your shorts like they’re a feature. Comb through the vague ideas until they’re specific. Even though there were no words in this script, I went over it multiple times to make it the best it can be. I’m a firm believer in setting the script aside for a day or two and coming back to it with fresh eyes, so I did exactly that before locking everything in.

Our short, Shoot for the Stars, follows our main character Jane as she dreams of what it would be like to turn her idea into a film. We follow her through daydreams of casting, directing, editing, and finally back to the epiphany that started it all. This is her moment.

The film was set in a single location which certainly made it easier considering we only had 60 seconds. We were lucky enough to be able to use a vacant town home that was open for a few more days before tenants moved in. That was a huge weight off our shoulders not having to worry about renting a location space. Especially with a short film like this we had practically no budget, so I tried to be resourceful as possible in making this happen.

I’m grateful for this experience because I underestimated before-hand how much time it took to set up all the props up, how much stuff (props, equipment, etc.) we loaded into the town home, and how long it would take to film. We were ambitious in how we went about the shots, but that also led to more time-consuming set ups. Watching our director and DP work together taught me so much about camera, lenses, and the rigs they set up to get the shots we wanted. I learned to ask questions now because there’s no better time than to ask your friends on a short film where everyone is still learning.

All-in-all our 60 second short film took 12 hours to film. 12 hours of getting the choreography of the camera with the actors right, getting the lighting perfect, and getting the shots that blended into one another just right. 12 hours of working with an amazing crew that made this shoot so fun and rewarding.

Although we didn’t win the Moet contest, I wouldn’t have changed this experience at all!

Here are some of my personal key takeaways:

  • I learned that collaboration is key.
  • I learned to overestimate how long it will take to film.
  • I learned that it’s the small details that matter. Days before the production we were making sure we had the small props that mattered and we stayed up late the night before adding in the last minute details we thought would matter on-camera.
  • I learned that sometimes when you’re funding your own dreams you have to wear all the hats, and that’s perfectly okay.
  • I learned that there are so many wonderful people that lend their time and talents to make films happen. We couldn’t have made this without the people who volunteered to make this 1 minute short happen.
  • I learned that being thorough in development, all the way through to post production can make you stand out. I know we did the very best we could and we were devoted to this creative idea.
  • I learned that winning or losing a contest doesn’t not put a value on our worth and our talent.
  • I learned that coffee is a necessity (actually, I’ve always known that let’s be honest).
  • I learned that this was just a stepping stone in our careers and if making a 60-second short film was this exhilarating and rewarding, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for our next film.

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