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The stress factor should be part of the budget for your no-budget film

Last year, when my allergies were so bad that in spite of Advair 500/50 twice a day, lots of water and plenty of Pro-Air, half of the days of the week I could barely walk a slight incline, let alone some of the hills in San Francisco, and I had heart flutters nearly every day as a result, I nevertheless made a colorful, lush, stylish little movie in 27 days by myself in my 11 1/2 by 12 foot living room – every scene except one three-way split screen that I had to do in the kitchen against the Chroma green wall.

Most moviegoers don’t even know why a person wants to make an art film, and that’s fine. That doesn’t bother me because I know sooner or later, the ideas generated by art filmmakers make their way into the mainstream – or as I like to say in grandiose moments, “the body of thought in the world.”

But there are more people every day making art house and even more standard genre movies in their own or their mom’s living room. And if you want to know why, it’s probably because we can – on a lot of different levels, we “can.” There’s all sorts of stuff being written about the possibilities and predictions pertaining to this trend. So I don’t feel the need to write about that. What I want to say is that if art is a way of life, then it has be considered in terms of domestic balance, household budget, environmental safety, the time and comfort around the expense of time of everyone in the artist’s environment, and probably most important, the stress factor of making the art absolutely has to included in the budget of a project.

If you are reading this, it is likely that you know people who: got divorced when their project was over, declared bankruptcy when their project was over, missed their grandfather’s funeral because of their project, lost their best friend because they couldn’t be in the wedding because of their project, or the saddest reason of all, never got to finish or maybe even start the project because they hadn’t factored in stress.

27 days is pretty damn fast to make a movie by yourself, especially at a time when sleeping with a window open makes you sick for three days after. But when you can move at your own pace, take all the time it takes to light a scene, control the level of toxicity in the environment (i.e., whatever is toxic to you as an individual), and take as many breaks as you need because all you have is time, the stress factor was probably taken into consideration.

Artist’s life 101.

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Caden Manson is a director, media artist, and teacher. He is co-founder of the media ensemble bigartgroup.com and network, blog, and publisher, contemporaryperformance.com. He has co-created, directed, video- and set designed 18 Big Art Group productions. Manson has shown video installations in Austria, Germany, NYC, and Portland; performed PAIN KILLER in Berlin, Singapore and Vietnam; Taught in Berlin, Rome, Paris, Montreal, NYC, and Bern; the ensemble has been co-produced by the Vienna Festival, Festival d’Automne a Paris, Hebbel Am Ufer, Rome’s La Vie de Festival, PS122, and Wexner Center for The Arts. Caden is a 2001 Foundation For Contemporary Art Fellow, is a 2002 Pew Fellow and a 2011 MacDowell Fellow. Writing has been published in PAJ, Theater Magazine, and Theater der Zeit. Caden is currently an associate professor and graduate directing option coordinator of The John Wells Directing Program at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama.

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