For my whole life, I’ve been a perfectionist. I’ve lorded over group projects in school and volunteered myself for more work than I should have, always wanting to do things myself. If I do something, then I know it will get done the way that I want it to get done.
I used to think that this was a strength, since it meant that I was a hardworker who was capable of doing lots of different things. While it does mean that I am confident, it has donned on me in the past few months that my keen attention to detail in every facet of everything may, in fact, not be as positive as I previously thought.
And this epiphany came courtesy of directing Hipster! The Musical.
I started writing the script in December 2011. At that time, it was a pitiful fourteen page thing, with more characters and fewer songs than it has now. But, even then, I had a strong vision of what I wanted the final project to look like.
And I was going to get what I wanted.
I gave my song collaborator, Mr. Sam Golden, very detailed notes and full lists of songs for reference, making sure I was present every time he worked on the music. I poured over videographic reference for D.P. George V.K. and Choreographer Sinjin Jones. I went to the thrift store with Olivia Pecukonis and was quick to reject any costume item that I didn’t immediately think had a place in the film.
I was being an overly-attentive director, working myself ragged by making sure that I was always present whenever anybody was working on anything remotely related to Hipster! The Musical. And if they did something that didn’t jive with my stringent vision, I would lay down the law. Or just do it myself.
But then the heavens opened up, and Leah Watson became my Production Manager. This seemingly innocuous event was the greatest thing to happen to me since the initial idea for a hipster musical had entered my head.
Having such a hardworking and open-minded Production Manager meant that I didn’t have to focus on day-to-day things like scheduling or audition logistics. My load of work was decreased greatly, giving me more time to focus on directorial things, like camera movement and acting choices.
And with more time to dedicate to these things, I began to see that I was able to create better art. I was spreading myself thin when I was obsessing over every aspect of everything. One man cannot create a feature film. It takes a team of talented people. And that’s what I’ve come to realize.
Filmmaking is Teambuilding.
Films are separated into departments, with respective department heads, so that the burden doesn’t fall onto any individual. Yes, the director/producer does have a lot of responsibility and wears multiple hats. But I have to trust the ability of people I have brought onto the project, otherwise there’s no point in even having them there. And they, in turn, have to respect the work of their underlings. And so on.
Hipster! The Musical began as my vision. It will always be my baby. But it is a collaboration. A film is the marriage of sound and costume and acting and lights and music and so many other things, that it just doesn’t make sense to ever call a film “your film.” Hipster! The Musical is not an “Adam Blair film”; it is an “Adam Blair, Leah Watson, George V.K., Olivia Pecukonis, Sinjin Jones, Trevr Merchant, Rob Shearer, Hannah Fergesen, Mike Boyer, Lee Ann Weller, that King Center dude that unlocked the room for us, etc., etc. film.” All people involved are vital to the film’s creation.
And only after learning that could I distance myself enough to let the film become as great as it can be.
I love the people that I am working on Hipster! with. They’re my family. I have dedicated my life to telling stories, and if I were to use this team as my vehicle for storytelling until the day I die, then I will die a happy man.
I hope that you enjoy Hipster! The Musical when it comes out early next year. It has been a massively fun, draining, and eye-opening experience. I am already a better storyteller and filmmaker because of it, and I just can’t wait to see what shooting has in store.
About Adam Blair
A traditionalist who clings to the Hero's Journey and other classic modes of story structure, Adam strives to continually refine his craft and make his tales as compelling as possible, through media ranging from radio-plays to the stage, prose to film. His life goal is to have one of his stories make a complete stranger both laugh and cry. Adam is the luckiest guy on earth to have such a group of fun and talented people to create stories with.