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The clock ticks on / "What's the progression?"

January has somehow completely flown me by. While I keep myself busy every day, I find myself falling behind on anticipated targets. I’ve been planning further rounds of interview requests, but can’t seem to muster the energy. Instead I’ve been preoccupied with grant proposals, and wrapping up all the paperwork and expenses for last year’s taxes – a daunting task, even when you’re running a sole proprietorship with limited means.

I’m also still editing the film, which has been a monumental task. It’s not enough to simply piece together commentary by topic, or chronological order. There are so many different threads to explore, and, at times, contradictions. Remembrances and perspectives differ. Richard Amsel remains a big enigma to me, and I fear I’ll never be able to fully understand, much less explain, the complexities of his personality.

But there are still some bright spots along the journey. I had a wonderful lunch some months back with Dylan and Drew Struzan, and my conversations with Dylan helped me to better focus on how to proceed. I was so preoccupied in capturing all the details of Amsel’s life, straightforwardly, that I was selling my own creative instincts short. “I can’t ever presume to know what Richard thought or felt,” I said. “I can never speak for him myself. Best I can do is let others’ testimonials do the talking.”

Dylan – herself a gifted writer and author – recommended I step back and take a different approach: To not be afraid to imagine what he thought or felt, even if I never knew him personally, and trust my creative instincts so long as they maintain fidelity to the facts. She explained that, while writing a book about Prohibition and organized crime, approaching a non-fiction subject shouldn't limit one's imagination, so long as they do it sensibly and responsibly.

 “What’s Amsel’s story?” Dylan asked. “What do you want people to take away from the film, other than knowing he was a great artist? What is the drama? What is the progression?”

Her words really helped. I long planned on telling Amsel’s story not chronologically, as doing so would sell short much of its dramatic impact. But the progression? It was a eureka moment for me, and I'm restructuring the film in my head as a result. (Thanks, Dylan!)

I’m giving myself another six months for the assembly to be done. (It's motivated by a personal milestone, as I'll be hitting 51 come August.) Beyond that, it’s a matter of polishing, adding/shooting more B-roll, graphics and animations, color correction, sound editing and music. Life has all too often gotten in my way, from health issues to unemployment, and recently I’ve spent considerable time – seemingly (and maddeningly) in vain – either looking for work or applying to grants. There are times, I admit, I feel defeated and overwhelmed.

And while I haven’t received all the financing I’ve needed, I can’t let that bottleneck my own process. Lines must be drawn…including the finish line.

In my next post, coming up shortly, I’ll announce an exciting donation perk for February. Stay tuned! We need your support now more than ever.

In wrapping up this blog post, I came across this insightful quote by a guy named Brian Lindstrom. I need to make a point of checking out his work sometime...

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