THE LONG AND THE TALL OF IT.
Gerald Saul, October, 1993

It felt for the longest time that the Filmpool was drowning. Like a ship on the ocean when the water starts to come in, the crew works hard to keep it afloat, but the passengers can only wait. There is no way to convince the pessimists that they will reach the harbour; no more than the optimists will believe that they might not. As a Board member, I feel like I've had my feet in the icy water for seven months. When this crisis began at the beginning of April, I went to sleep thinking about it, I awoke still thinking about it. We were having meeting and telephone conversations and work sessions almost daily. Stress, that hardly begins to describe it. I felt angry, frustrated, embarrassed and tired. The Filmpool had been there for me, and I never had any doubt that it would ever not be... until that time.

The only relief I felt came unexpectedly. I had arranged to shoot a scene of my new film ("Life is Like Lint"). The scene would be an ad lib conversation between Margaret Bessai and Karen Opus. I gave them only a couple points which had to be covered. I was working without a crew that day, the sound tape I started early, then I stood beside the camera. When I started up the camera, I felt a sudden peace. God bless Eclair for making the NPR so loud that all of my stress was lifted. All I could hear was the clickity clickity of the shudder and the creak creak creak of the magazine. There's something about outdated technology that appeals to me. Age gave even this dinosaur's steel casing a sense of warmth. This music of the camera gave me ten minutes of serenity that I'd been desperate for. Of course it was only supposed to be two or three minutes, but it was a small price. I could not bear to turn it off, to let the feeling escape. Luckily, by overextending the scene, I captured the soon to be classic line: "Bring all the rubbermaid and you can wear the leather bra". Thanks Karen.

I carried on this strategy a few more times over the summer, though the effect was never again quite as dramatic. The chaos of the crisis has impaired my planning abilities, so I've depended more on instinct for my shooting, than on any sort of need to forge a dramatic structure. Here is what I've learned: Order film stock as soon as the development cheque clears; it's the only way to be really committed. Always carry a camera; if not for motion then at least for snap shots, you can always tell people they're production stills. Trust your first impressions; you'll have enough time in editing to justify any shot. Show no fear; actors are better than wolves at smelling fear. Make three films at once, but have all of them billed to which ever one has a budget. Learn to re-write fast; it's better than banging your head against the ground when you've lost the light. Have fun; if it's cool, shoot it. Make movies. Finish movies. The Filmpool needs everyone to produce their films, else there is no reason for the fight.

In conclusion, all I know is that I've been committed to the Filmpool because the Filmpool has been committed to me and my films. That sounds like some kind of P.R. bullshit, but it is nonetheless true. The Filmpool has been integral in the production of at least seven of my films, films which probably could not have been completed otherwise. Without the Filmpool, I am certain that my filmmaking would have ended when I left university. It's been nine years since I joined and I intend to make it many more. I wish to state my appreciation to all those people, past and present, who have had a part in building this ship. We're installing new navigational gear to get the tug back on course. Those of you in the life boats, I hope to see you up on deck real soon. The forecast is looking favourable.

Gerald Saul 2005