Long before I was exposed to Busting Loose, I understood that everything begins with a thought. Not necessarily even an intention. Just an idea.
In 1999, I was invited to lunch with some friends to discuss starting a film festival in Albuquerque. During the course of the four-hour, iced tea-fueled discussion, I suggested that they might consider a unique format. Instead of watching other people's movies, we would conduct a script competition for short film scripts, select a few, and then shoot, edit and premiere our movies, in one crazy week.
Despite our initial naivete about what we were getting into, and our best attempts to sabotage the festival over the years, we ended up producing 65 short films in nine years, until we called it quits in 2008. (Strangely enough, a new group of naifs is trying to revive the festival this year, which just goes to prove it's hard to kill a good idea.)
In 2004, I left my job at the Albuquerque Journal to pursue the exciting world of freelancing, or legalized prostitution as it's known around here. A year later I was hired by the City of Albuquerque Public Art Program to shape a positive message about the program, which had been plagued by controversy -- much of it stirred up by my reporting on various projects over the years.
I jumped in and created a multi-media campaign that I knew would make the Public Art program as popular as videos of cats in bathtubs. The ideas flowed like liquor at a VFW meeting. The arts board was enthralled. Alas, I also created an interim director of the program to find disfavor with my campaign and my brilliant strategies. Her reason for firing me? "All you do is come up with ideas."
Apparently, she was unaware that some people are rewarded handsomely for their creativity. Even stranger considering this was the Public Art program, and her main job was soliciting great ideas from artists for works of public art.
I recall these stories because as I embrace Phase 2 of Busting Loose, the important lessons of intention and ideas continue to surface. I think it began a year ago, when I decided to end my self-imposed exile from writing. I decided I wanted to write and be appreciated for it. Within two weeks, I got a call from a friend in the movie business who had landed a job adapting a screenplay. He wanted me to help -- and we would get paid for the first draft. For those of you not in the business, two unknowns getting paid to write a spec screenplay is as likely as the Jonas Brothers landing on Mars next month.
The next step in my plan for world domination would be to get paid just to sit around thinking great thoughts all day, like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. Perhaps it was out of spite for the woman who fired me from the Public Art Program. But it felt like a great idea.
I think that Expanded Self had gone to fix itself a drink when I made that request, because everything stopped flowing. After I returned from my trip to Japan in mid-November, I was greeted by what appeared to be a total lack of pretty much everything. In the depths of my anxiety, I began casting about for jobs like a newbie freelancer. One of the jobs was substitute teaching in high school for $11 an hour.
I continued to process my discomfort over the illusion of lack of money and of lacking a fun way to have it flow into my life. Then, just days away from being chased down school hallways by hordes of surly teens, I was unexpectedly asked to again come to the aid of the public art program.
That was startling enough. But this time, the enlightened being running the program was very clear about what she wanted -- a series of videos, short documentaries, commercials and a new marketing campaign extolling the virtues of the public art program. I didn't even have to produce them. I just had to come up with ideas and messages.
I don't know which was more powerful, creating a new flow of money/appreciation, or reinforcing the understanding that my ideas had value.
As I absorbed that, I found out a couple of weeks later I had been referred by a friend to a couple of producers who needed a director for a huge documentary project they were launching in New Mexico.
Without knowing a lot of details, I began figuring the angles, who I would pull in for production, budgets, etc.
Then I met the gentlemen last week and they laid out a simple plan. Interview three people a month with a set list of questions that would go into an archive. Take one day to follow each of them around and get footage of them in their everyday lives, and come up with an idea for a three-minute video. Then receive a huge check for doing it.
I could do this in my sleep and it sounded like fun, but what was the catch?
There had to want a longer version, right?
And I have to pay a crew out of the fee?
No, we supply the studio for the interviews and the crews to film your on-location videos.
When I began suggesting subjects for the documentaries, they became really interested. They suggested they might make me associate producer in charge of coming up with ideas of people to interview. I'm waiting to hear if I will be hired, but now that I get I'm creating all this -- i.e., two cool jobs that rely on my ideas and creativity -- I'm going full throttle.
For the first time, I have seen a glimpse of the play phase of Busting Loose.
My next intention is for my writing partner and me to sell our script for a new TV show. The production company will throw large amounts of money at us for the rights to it. They will then make us head of the writing team. We won't actually have to write. We'll just sit around and think of ideas. Sweet.
Now, if i could just get someone to write my blog, I'd have it made.