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4 Years for 15 Minutes


It took me 4 years to create 15 minutes of screen time. I wish I was joking but nope.  That’s 1460 days to make 15 minutes of film. Have I gotten overdramatic enough yet? No? Okay….that’s 35,040 hours…or 2,102,400 minutes to have 15 minutes of screen time. Okay, I think I crossed the “overdramatic” line. So what is the monumental 15 minutes of epic screen time? My music documentary…or the “little engine that could” (my parenting creeps into everything).

It started long ago in a far away land called Los Angeles…City of Angels, as it were.  Honestly, it all started with the thought, “Musicians stop at nothing to continue their music”. From that I continued to dwell on that thought. After talking to a few colleagues (“colleagues” sounds professional, so leave me alone), I started to think about the impact music has on education. Then I started thinking about how the arts are usually the first programs to be cut from school. So THEN I started thinking…”how can something that has so much impact be cut from our schools?” That was the question that lead to this 4 year journey.

Normally, I don’t consider myself a “documentarian” or “journalist” but I still wanted to explore this subject in documentary form. I did not know then how much this project would change from its creation. In filmmaking, you have to be open to your projects changing a bit. They take a life of their own and become something that is (hopefully) better. This film changed A LOT. It would take a very long time to explain each change…maybe 4 more years. 😉

It started as a feature and would end up being a short. It started with the prospect of a “budget” and would end up having little to no budget. I started with a list of people I wanted to interview. That list went out the window and I had to call in favors. This project was a rollercoaster of emotions. Sometimes it seemed like the stars were aligned and everything was going to work out. Other times it felt like I was the worst thing to happen to filmmaking.

During those 4 years a lot of things happened. I moved from LA, back home to Chicago. I made a different documentary that was highly unsuccessful. We welcomed our daughter in to this crazy world. I became a stay-at-home father. We are about to welcome more estrogen into our family with the addition of another daughter. We are planning to buy a house. Through all the changes there was something significant that happened…I changed. I grew. Save the weight jokes…although my weight did go up and down also. After the 4 years I began seeing things a lot differently. My priorities, obviously, changed a lot. I attribute the change mostly to being a parent.

Over the years, I had been working on the doc here and there. For a while, I was sitting on footage not knowing how it was going to connect. I don’t exactly consider myself an “editor”, either.  Most of my focus was on raising my daughter. Everything was (and is) about her. One day, looking back at the footage, I saw it in a new light. It became more personal. It actually “hit home”. “What will my daughter(s)’ education be like?” After changing a few diapers, I started editing. (Coincidently I had to stop typing this because a smell was radiating from my baby’s diaper that was making me dizzy…so I had to change her diaper)

It was all coming together like peas and carrots. I had a nice flow going. Thankfully, my wife was being very supportive by letting me concentrate for a few minutes on editing while she took care of the baby. Finally I had a finished product from the little idea that started 4 years ago. I have something that I can be proud of. Yes it took 4 years, but it was 4 meaningful years.  This film would have been very different if I did it 4 years ago. I don’t think it would have been as personal. I learned to be patient with this film. I learned to step back and take time with it. Even though it took me 2,102,400 minutes to make a 15 minute film, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

*For those that want to see it: I hope to show it publicly but I’m waiting to see if I can get it in any festivals first. So be patient (like I was)…you will see it soon.



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