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Film Crowdfunding
10 Harsh (Sometimes Disturbing) Realities of the Indie Lifestyle (Pt 2)

August 9, 2016

• Michael DiBiasio

Filmmaker Michael DiBiasio recently shared with us 5 sort of harsh (and definitely disturbing) realities of his indie career so far. Read the first part here.

Second part starts...now.

*****

  1. Losing My Lunch (Literal Edition)

This wasn’t the lunch I dropped. I might have gone after such prosciutto.

I have a long daily commute to my day job, from deep-ish Brooklyn to Manhattan. As such, I read a lot on the train. During much of the post-production and marketing period for this film, I have restricted my reading to science fiction, fantasy, and comic books. It’s all I can handle while toiling to complete a deeply emotional film about mental health.

Anyway, I also bring my lunch to work almost every day, because I am an independent artist, and I can’t afford $15 sandwiches -- or the body and mind of someone who eats daily $5 sandwiches. That’s not a judgement of the utility of cheap food. Cheap food can get you by, in a pinch. In your thirties, though, it also leads to more pinchable places on your body. It’s not a long-term solution for me.

So, on a separate exhausted day (not the food poisoning day or the rogue pee day), I found myself fumbling through the depths of my backpack for my book, while at the same time standing, crunched together with a hoard of other tired New Yorkers, right by the doors of a rush-hour train I had just boarded. As I began to withdraw my book from the depths of my bag, the closed doors opened back up, and my lunch toppled out of my bag, falling at just the right angle to slide down through the crack between the train and the platform.

I laughed, and so did the lady next to me, but we were both secretly sad that a nice packed lunch had gone to the rats. On that afternoon, I ate a $5 sandwich. It was fine. It had bread, which is pretty sweet. Bread’s nice.

  1. The Sickening, and The Sickening: Part 2 (Sickerer)

Doctor’s orders.

By now, it’s probably clear that I could do a better job of taking care of myself over the course of a production. This is true. The irony is that I’ve taken better care of myself while working on The Videoblogs than I have while in the midst of any other I’ve produced, for the most part.

Yes, a lot of this is my own fault. I also happen to think that, as independent content creators in a confusing and exploitative overcranked capitalist society (that sorely needs us), we're nearly at ward. It's a strong statement, I know, but what I mean is that we might have to suffer a bit in order to perform our civic duty of Creating Amazing Things -- BUT THAT’S ANOTHER POST FOR ANOTHER DAY.

Like most non-machines, whenever I run myself down -- I get sick. I’ll fend off exhaustion and tax my body for months, then something like a long weekend will come along and I’ll pause and a few days later I am dying on the couch for a week straight depression-eating through a case of ice cream.

Heed my warning. And the advice of my doctor, who recommended daily 1000 mg doses of Vitamin-C with Rose Hips.

  1. Skip This One If You Are Squeamish

If the following story doesn’t bother you, you might like The Confession.

When you’re busy producing a film, especially with your spouse or live-in partner, and when both of your have other jobs beside your work on the project --  it can also become a challenge to keep up on things like groceries and toiletries. Because of this, I found myself at one point stuck home alone in the bathroom with diarrhea and no toilet paper.

Is that too much information? I don’t think so, really. If I could go back and warn myself, I would want that exact information. 

  1. The Panic Button, Repeatedly Jammed

Working on it, Lopa.

Something that most people don’t know about me (they will now!) is that I used to suffer incrementally from panic attacks.

Panic attacks suck. What basically happens during a panic attack is that some part of your mind has gone into crisis mode and has responded by hitting a button that itself shuts everything down. Including your ability to remember that you know how to breathe.

As with the insomnia, my panic attacks initially went away, after a few years of work on my mental, physical, and spiritual health. But they also similarly returned with a vengeance during the late stages of work on this film. I think this happened both as a result of feeling the pressure to hit those deadlines, at low budgets, but also in response to the intense fear I was feeling as a result of putting so much of myself into the story of the film. I was pre-terrified of rejection.
That’s somewhat of a normal thing to have happen, but I think the fear got away from me. I know it did, because the response to The Videoblogs, when we toured with the film for Mental Health Month in May, was warm and commiserating. People did not come after me with pitchforks, mostly because we didn’t screen in barns, but also because they weren’t mad.

Still, my response to that fear, I think, was mature and responsible. I sought help and went on medication, temporarily, to help with the panic attacks. They were happening too often, and got too severe. That mostly worked, and I’m glad I did it.

  1. Re-Insomnia: Evolution

Once the film was finished, after a long stretch of sweet, sparkly, snore-filled sleep -- I started having trouble with insomnia again, sporadically, in recent weeks.

But here’s the twist: now, when I can’t sleep, it’s because I’m too excited to share The Videoblogs with you. 

Maybe I could have done a better job of taking care of myself during these past few years. Maybe I couldn’t. Maybe I needed to take such knocks, one last time, to learn new boundaries. That’s the thing about experience, you don’t learn from it until it’s over.

What I do know is that I’m proud, and grateful. Seeing this film all the way through to now, clearly it was a struggle. But I did it. We did it. Rebecca and I, and our team -- we pulled it off. Despite my private travails, we also did it with a ton of help -- from a community. That’s the beautiful part of all of the above suffering. I was never alone through it. I never felt alone through it.

Whether in the form of my wife, holding her hand over my heart and speaking softly to me, while I struggled to regain control over my breathing, after bolting up gasping in bed in the middle of the night.

Whether someone who pitched in $1,000 or $5 to our initial crowdfunding campaign here on Seed&Spark, or who came to see The Videoblogs in theaters when we were on tour.

Whether by reading this, right now, all the way through the end (despite the pee and poo.)

All the time, when I wanted to quit, I knew I wouldn’t. We wouldn’t. 

Because we’re goddamned indie filmmakers. We don’t rattle.

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Michael DiBiasio

Michael DiBiasio is a Writer/Director living in and working out of Brooklyn, NY. His first feature, The Videoblogs, was funded on Seed&Spark and screened nationally for Mental Health Month in May. The Videoblogs hit VOD (iTunes, Amazon, Verizon Fios, Frontier Cable, Seed&Spark) this past July.

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