Still Breathing; Behind the Scenes
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Welcome to the set of "Still Breathing!"

 Jim Robinson on location in San Antonio
All these people and work and we didn't even use this shot [Roz getting out of the cab at the airport] in the movie!!
Making a movie is an emotional, bizarre and highly intense experience.

I've often thought that at its best -- that means when things go right and the day's work schedule is met and it's done with some kind of craftsmanship, style or competence -- making a movie can be the highest form of elation there is.

At its worst... well, you just can't want to kill yourself any more sincerely.

There is a small bit of pressure on a first-time feature director like me-- the kind of pressure one gets when a lifetime of dreams and a small fortune have been entrusted to you, and it all rides on a few short weeks' work. There's only one "at-bat" for a first-time director. And in today's competitive market, it had better be at least a firm triple, or it's back to whatever dusty bin you crawled out of.

The making of STILL BREATHING contained, undoubtedly, the worst and best days of my life. I was handicapped a bit by no longer enjoying the advantages of being a twenty-something director. I had been around filmmaking long enough to know that things can indeed go wrong -- horribly wrong -- and I found I missed that lovely, invincible, steel plating of ignorance I had in my twenties. ("What do you mean the sun is going down?") But I also had learned in my old age that when things go south, you grit your teeth and believe as hard as you can in the film and what it's about. If you do, both you and the movie will survive... and sometimes, even blossom. Kinda like real life I guess.

Every disaster passes; every problem has a solution. And, more often than not, a problem gives birth to a creative stroke of genius.

Looking back -- When you're younger, each "daily disaster" can throw you off your game. You somehow assume that things are SUPPOSED to go smoothly. I was lucky in that I had learned that making a good film is not about having a shoot with no problems; it's about Will and Vision and Determination. The formula is like this:
IF (will + vision + determination) IS GREATER THAN (chaos theory + exhaustion + technical problems + egos + not enough time + not enough money) THEN there's a fairly good chance that a film will be made and even a decent chance that someone will sit in a dark room somewhere and be moved by what fifty people did in the searing Texas heat for several weeks in the Summer of 1996.
What could be a bigger thrill than that?

When I made my first dramatic film, a short musical parable called MUSIC BOX, I was in my early twenties and couldn't even imagine that something COULD go wrong. But the stupid-filmmaker fairies were with me then, and the film turned out to be a modest hit in the early eighties.

CUT TO: sixteen years later and my first feature. I have more to say now, and, looking back, I'm glad I was held back for this moment. Having "something to say" is the only real reason to go though what it takes to make and distribute an independent feature. I have to say that I am really very proud of this film, and proud of all the talented people who poured themselves into it -- from the leads, Brendan and Joanna, to all the artists who go by titles as diverse as "producer," "assistant director," "composer," "production designer," "editor," "cinematographer," "costume designer" and even "PA" and "video assist" and on and on and on. People I had never met before cared a lot about this film, and it all shows on the screen. I can't thank those people enough.

In some small way, this website is an attempt to express my thanks. It's sad and wonderful that fifty or so people can live day and night with one another, sweat and eat and drink and laugh together, and then split off to the four winds and never see one another again.

We will try, through the hard work of web-designer Bob West -- to capture in digital amber what the making of STILL BREATHING was like. We're collecting the diaries and remembrances of the crew and cast and publishing them here, so that you can experience those amazing days with us.

If you're a film enthusiast -- we hope you'll find these pages interesting. If you're an aspiring filmmaker, you might find them inspiring. If you think about it, motion pictures are hand-made. A film is not unlike a Gothic Cathedral, made by hundreds of workmen, each with their own specialty. I'm still amazed at what goes into a film -- and the odd thing is that hardly anyone outside of the director and producer has an inkling of what it really takes to make a movie, because each artist is so immersed in their own specialty. Nothing else in this modern world is so painstakingly made by so many talented people with such difficult working conditions, under such an intense time schedule. Imagine moving a fifty person corporation EVERY DAY, six days a week, to work on the streets of a major city in high-ninety degree heat -- and trying to create "artistic excellence" at the same time! It's a wonder ANY film is good -- let alone a low-budget independent film made by a first-time director.

So... I want this collection of diaries and images to be a unique education in what goes into making an independent film. Check back with us as the collection grows and grows. And when you finally see the film -- you can say "I was there!"


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