Saturday, August 26, 2006

On the other hand...

My buddy Jay kind of got me thinking ten minutes ago with an e-mail regarding some of my strategies for making Aimless. He asked me this:

My question is why not use less expensive equipment, like a $175 digital camcorder, some $0.10 DVD-Rs, a handful of 2 GB FlashDrives, a backpack, a sleeping bag, and some good walking shoes? Why wait for the sponsors to come around and donate so much money into this, when you could probably produce a great story for under $500?

I did think about doing something like that at first, but as my vision became clearer, I decided against it because my intention is not to make a home video. My initial response to Jay:

Just because I'm not trying to make Star Wars, it doesn't mean I AM trying to make something that looks and sounds like shit. I will already be sacrificing a lot of photographic quality by using a camera in the $2,000 to $3,000 range instead of something costing $5,000 or $50,000. A $200 camcorder is for home videos. I'm not trying to make a home video. I already cut out tens of thousands of dollars from the budget by making the right sacrifices (like having no crew, walking, begging, working for food, sleeping in fields, etc.). Going cheap on a camcorder is not one of the right sacrifices, although I certainly thought about it in the beginning. It would be like trying to operate a pizzeria using the oven in my mom's kitchen; it wouldn't work. For 10 times the price of something made for the home, you get 500 times more stuff/quality.

But as soon as I sent that response to him, I started reconsidering. I began to see how it actually might be more productive to go ahead and start out with a mega-cheapo camcorder, instead of continuing to hold out for the sponsors I've been hoping to attract.

Right now I have nothing to show anyone except words, and it's really difficult to generate interest in this kind of project by relying exclusively on printed words. Printed words can't express my passion or my aptitude. Printed words can't bring my adventure to life because my adventure, to this point, mostly involves spending 100 hours a week in front of a computer.

But if I was out there doing Aimless, even with a piece-of-shit camcorder, I'd have something to show this web site's visitors. I'd be able to generate interest through face-to-face contact with the people of America. I could create some buzz and some substance, and I would probably stand a better chance of attracting people willing to replace my shitty equipment with the equipment I need.

I'm starting to think that might be the right thing to do. It might even make for a better documentary because it would show my progress, almost from the beginning. It would show the evolution of Aimless, and the technical quality of the movie would improve in conjunction with the progress I make. Alternatively, all the footage from a cheap camcorder might suck so bad that none of it can be used in the eventual product. But even so, it might help me get what I need. So I have to spend some time thinking about it.

I really want to know what you think. Your thoughts are just as valuable to me as money or equipment, whether they are supportive or critical. Your criticism might be the most important contribution anyone makes to Aimless. The proof is in the red text near the beginning of this entry.