I happened across this article on a fellow filmmaker's Facebook page today: http://www.filmmakermagazine.com/news/2011/10/the-vocation-of-the-storyteller/. Though I haven't seen the film described in the article, The Catechism Cataclysm, it did touch on a topic that I've been giving a lot of thought to lately, namely, the sense of purpose that drives otherwise reasonable individuals to create independent films. The word "vocation" especially caught my eye, because being a filmmaker of any kind seems to be the kind of thing that one is invoked to do. It is as if making a film is a kind of spiritual quest, an idea that is both absurd and not absurd at the same time.
If film-making is something one is "called" to do then how does one know if one has been called to do it? Is there a hierarchy of greater and lesser muses that speak to individuals on different levels making some of them into great film auteurs and others into B-movie moguls? Is there an ultimate filmmaker god- or, for that matter, devil that can lead an individual towards or away from success? Is there A Plan? Certainly film-making is, at it's most fundamental, a very introspective task that requires a filmmaker to reach inside themselves and share a very personal part of them with an audience, but is it a spiritual task? It's not a question that will have the same answer for everyone, but I happen to think that it is.
The problem with treating film-making as a spiritual task is that it has no formal philosophical structure. It is equally possible to make a spectacularly successful film without a deep spiritual journey into ones self and to make a rotten film while being deeply moved by the muses. With this kind of uncertainty, it is even possible to ask if one has been called "enough"- is it enough to merely want to make a movie or two or does one have to dedicate every waking moment to the pursuit of higher motion-picture art? And if you want to be the kind of artist who dedicates every moment to film-making is it still ok to watch a bit of television each day? Or work a day job?
I guess the good news is that there's no wrong answer either way: perhaps it is enough merely to feel the impulse and to pursue it no matter how much time you can dedicate or how successful it makes you. Maybe there is no structure for measuring ones vocational progress as a filmmaker (that is, how 'called' one feels to do it) because there is no wrong way to make that progress.