Where the hell is CHORES?
I let you down.
Trust me here for a second; I let you down, and you might’ve not even known about it until now. If you heard about CHORES back in August when I first announced it, or sometime between then and now, I let you down.
Even if you didn’t know what “CHORES” ever was, I let you down hard. And now, after many months of pure radio silence, I’m here to tell you why.
So, without further ado, here’s the answer to your question: it’s complicated.
Quick warning: There isn’t any TL;DR for what I’m about to write here. Like I said, it’s complicated. There’s too much here to be summed up in a couple sentences.
But alas, many of you have been patient, so I’ll at least be putting some key ideas at the bottom of this post.
Let’s go back to sixth grade really quickly: It was a cloudy, uneventful Saturday when I went to my friend Miles’ house. There wasn’t anything special about this visit at first — we were just “hanging out,” as I would’ve said. But really, this day turned out to be a turning point in my life.
Stick with me here, because what I just said sounds pretty over-dramatic, but I really am telling the truth.
We had the simplest idea ever, one that came out of sheer boredom and youthful creativity: we were going to make a movie.
And like all immature, wild, creative sixth graders would do, we grabbed a bunch of stuffed animals from around the house, pulled out my old, beaten up iPhone 5S, and started recording.
And boy, were we recording something.
The video was only two minutes in length, but we probably spent a few hours making the whole thing because we were having so much fun with it. We spent the remainder of time tying all of our clips together in iMovie on his dad’s iMac, and even made a “behind the scenes” reel in the time that we had left.
We showed both of the movies we made to our class on Monday. There were people who liked them, and people who didn’t. Even though reactions were mixed, we were having fun. All we wanted to do was make more and more of our little movies. And since the teacher let us play them during lunch whenever we wanted, we always had a new video for the class every Thursday.
We even pulled a stupid Half Life 3-type stunt by waiting until the last week of school to make the third installment of our original and main series, YOY Story (a story about democracy, prison, Nintendo games, and a royal throne, featuring a collection of stuffed animals and other toys. No, the name wasn’t based off of Toy Story, like everyone thought. That would’ve been much more clever than the actual reason we chose that name.) Those were the times when we could joke about Half Life 3 without getting depressed by the truth…*sigh*
In the Summer of 2016, I got my first “real” camera: a Canon EOS T5i. Cliche, I know, but that didn’t matter. All I wanted was a way to keep telling stories in the medium that I loved: motion pictures. I even got it as an early birthday present, since we were leaving for a fourteen day trip in Italy the next week, and I wanted to get some footage there.
I’m confident in saying now that getting it early was the right choice, since over that trip I made my first video that wasn’t just for a class assignment, Stories from Italy. This project taught me that being in the right place at the right time can be what really makes your video.
The creative success I saw in Stories from Italy is what encouraged me to make more films.
My eighth grade year was full of moments just like this. Since moving from the inefficient iMovie to Premiere Pro (yet still working on my terrible Macbook Pro from 2011) I created videos for my middle school ASB, English class, and even won 1st place in the regional National History Day documentary competition with my project partner and amazing friend, Harshal Desai.
But we’ll get back to Harshal later. He plays an important part in this story.
But throughout those great times, I still felt like something was missing. I needed to find some sort of spark, some sort of idea that would set off an adventure that was bigger and more personal.
Now, cut to July of 2017: I was coming back from a two week boating trip in Canada with my family, and after brainstorming for the latter half of that journey, I had my mind set on one thing: writing, directing, and editing a short film. Not a short film as in a masterpiece that wins film festivals short film, but something to at least keep me from sitting on the couch, playing video games all day.
At the same time, I wanted to make a short film in order to prove that I could stick to a project and make something great by doing so.
On August 1, 2017, I began writing the eleven page, seven minute long script to this short film.
Typeface: Courier. Size: 12.
The spectacular, dramatic title?
I know, I know, the title’s pretty vague, and I was aware of that when I thought of it. But who doesn’t love a good mystery every now and then, right?
Since I was set on proving my skill and dedication with CHORES, I wanted to get started on production as soon as possible. No procrastinating, no delays. I wanted to go from zero to sixty faster than you could say, “Wait. How is any of what he’s thinking even going to work?”
And in hindsight, I can say that’s an extremely fair point. I was in over my head, sure. But I was in the zone. To my past self, this was taking my aspirations to the next level.
August 13: With the script finished and the grand production plane ready for take-off, I posted an announcement online that my next big project, CHORES, was ready to roll.
But it wasn’t. It wasn’t and I couldn’t even fucking realize it.
I was scared. Not so much of people disliking my final product, but instead of asking people to help create it. I felt like if I reached out to anyone, I’d be left alone in my efforts by people silently judging my vision, hiding behind their “Sorry, I’m busy” texts in iMessage. I was seriously afraid of asking my own friends to come make this thing with me. That’s something that will forever disgust me.
The only person I felt that I could ask, and still with a bit of hesitation, was my sister.
And even though I scheduled our first shoot for 7 A.M. the next day, she was willing to help out. Looking back on her willingness, I can say that the response could have been the same from the other people I knew if I just asked.
With this team of two, I had to do all the light and camera rigging, acting, directing, and editing, while my sister would operate the camera or boom mic. This was nothing close to the semi-professional operation I had envisioned back in July.
But sometimes, you have to play with the cards that you’re dealt.
Clarification: none of the problems that arose during the production of CHORES were the faults of my sister. Crappy writing, strange camera angles, low crew morale, and any other problems on set are the fault of the director. They were my fault. And I’m not afraid to admit that.
About halfway through filming the video, I was starting to feel the pressure. I had probably modified the script, shot list, and production schedule dozens of times, leaving all three of them quite different from my original inception. Every week I had six more people asking me when CHORES would be finished. People were actually leaving comments on my Instagram posts, saying that they were excited to see it. That was pretty huge to me, since my YouTube channel only had (and still has) less than twenty active subscribers.
I could have eased a little bit of that pressure by reminding myself that this was just a short little project for my minuscule YouTube channel. And I should’ve remembered that even if I had more people than ever looking forward to this short film, it didn’t have to be the masterpiece that I had hoped for it to be.
However, I was taking this shit seriously. Too seriously, in fact.
Simply telling yourself that a project is serious doesn’t make it any easier to stick to. That’s something I wish I knew back then. And that’s something I will always remember.
But here we are now, learning from my mistakes. It’s a learning experience that’s 100% free for you, forever. I hope you learn at least a couple good lessons along the way.
I would never try to make this sound more dramatic than it is, but I can honestly say that all of these people messaging me about CHORES put me at an internal battle with myself.
“What should I do at this point?” I thought to myself. “Should I rush the video out so I can show people my work while they still care, or take a little bit longer to up the quality to a more acceptable level?”
The reason most of you are hearing about this for the first time is, once again, because I was scared of telling anyone about this dilemma. I didn’t think this was a normal issue that anyone else had. Hell, I still don’t know for sure and it’s unknown to me if I ever will.
Around this point in production, my sister and I had filmed maybe 85 or 90 percent of the movie, and school had started about a week ago. Yes, there were some moments which I thought were well executed, but that didn’t stop me from feeling bad. I’d walk around the halls of my high school feeling pure guilt and stress.
I remember times in second period English class when I would be sitting in my chair, elbow on my desk, holding my head up, just barely awake. The only thing on my mind was the stress this video was bringing me.
Obviously, this wasn’t healthy. But I didn’t have the common sense to think of it in that way.
When you come up with an idea, and you keep building it, and building it, and building it into something more than just a little thought, you have something that’s almost impossible to let go of. To me, that idea was CHORES. At that point, I wasn’t ready to start thinking of it as the burden to my overall quality of life.
Don’t feel bad for me. Don’t even try to, because it’s not right, and I don’t deserve your pity. I made some dumb decisions that I will always regret, and all I want to do is to warn anyone and everyone else into film-making, writing, music, and any art form imaginable to NOT make these decisions EVER. I’m no Rick and Morty-watching, intellectual-type of high school kid, but what I do know is that you shouldn’t screw up in the ways that I did.
As time progressed, the project that I started to keep me from being lazy all day became the reason that I was procrastinating to finish the rest of it, even with so little left to make. Procrastination is a terrible habit, and it’s rarely justifiable, but there’s almost always a reason behind it.
My friends and family, my classmates, and my subscribers were at no fault for wanting to see the short film. I just had to realize that CHORES wouldn’t please anyone unless it was actually good. The way the project was going, the final result would have disappointed everybody, including myself.
Eventually there came a night. I forgot which night exactly, but it was a school night, around 11 P.M.
That night, I told myself that I was going to finally finish filming CHORES.
With so little left to record, I wasn’t too worried about getting it done.
But just as I finished setting up the lights, the audio, the props, and the camera, and just as I was about to press record, I felt sick.
Not sick as in I had a cold or the flu, but sick as in I was sick of what I was putting myself through. Continuing the movie the way it was going would have never even come close to reaching my expectations. I was too frightened of my own work to even look at the footage we had already taken, for god’s sake.
I needed a resolution.
I needed one fast.
And for what happened next, I have to thank my longtime friend, Harshal Desai. He is the main reason that I have the courage and willpower to write out this post today.
Late into the night, I sent him a text asking for advice. I described this whole complicated dilemma I was having, praying that he would see my text, and still be awake at all.
His response was, as crazy and dramatic as it sounds, my last hope for closure before throwing in the towel on this project, never mentioning it to anyone ever again.
When I heard that chime, that damn text chime, I rushed to see what he said.
He told me that quality was the way to go.
Now from outside the position I was in, it might feel like the most honorable decision to make, but I was panicking that night. Reading those words he typed was the most relieving thing that I could have done that night. The fact that someone I knew, and someone I actually reached out to felt this way was huge.
If you couldn’t figure it out by now, one of the main lessons of this anecdote is to reach out to people. If you’re having a problem, even if it feels super personal like mine did, just talking to someone, just one person out in the world, will make a huge difference.
I promise you that it will.
And here we are now. It’s time that I tell you all about the future of CHORES.
- I don’t regret making CHORES.
And I never will. It served as a great learning experience for me, and it actually DID succeed in keeping me away from playing Splatoon 2 the whole day. So I value the project for that now and I will for a very long time.
2. CHORES is not necessarily cancelled.
I still believe that the actual idea of CHORES has potential. It’s totally possible that some day I’ll revisit the script, revise, add or remove things, and get a fresh start on it.
3. Don’t expect CHORES anytime soon.
If you were excited for CHORES, you rock. Not only because you were trying to support me on my “journey,” but because you actually packed your bags and got on the hype train for a short film that I never even told you (or anyone besides my sister) what the PLOT was about.
You glorious fucking madman.
4. This isn’t going to happen again.
I’m not referring to putting another project on hiatus. That has happened in the past and as long as I have a good reason to do so, I might just do it again in the future. Sometimes putting a project off for a bit, or even forever, is an important part of the creative process.
What I’m saying is that I’m not leaving you in the dark again. That’s really the main thing I’m still going to feel guilty about every time I think about CHORES, so it will forever be my goal to treat you guys, my friends, with more respect.
5. I will be making more content, and I’ll be doing so more frequently.
I’ve always said that my YouTube channel, the place where I post most of my online work, is more of a portfolio than a place to put every single thing that I make. It’s a place for solely my best and favorite work, and I intend to keep it that way.
But that isn’t going to stop me from posting more frequently. I have a pretty long list of ideas that I’m saving for the future; everything from a short-length critique videos, to short film festivals entries (with much fewer mistakes made along the way,) to actual feature-length film ideas (some that I definitely won’t get to until I have the right amount of experience and connections to make them happen how I want them to.)
If there’s anything I love, it’s making things that teach people things in exciting ways. So look out for those in the future!
I started making CHORES to prove that I could commit to a project.
Not only is that a terrible way to keep an ambition sustained, but I didn’t have to prove that in the first place.
I was thinking CHORES would be the next step in my passion, in my craft, and in my life. With that belief, I forgot about all the stuff I had created before. Those old, messy videos I made with Miles? I fucking love those, because those were some of the best times of my life. We weren’t set on making a masterpiece, or anything remotely good at all. We just wanted to tell stories.
Our own goofy, fun stories.
And how could I forget about what I’m doing now? I’m only two months into my first year of high school, and I’ve already worked as the director on four video productions for the whole student body to see, the two of which that I’m working on right now have been fully scripted, documented, and scheduled. I’m actually thoroughly planning them so they can be as polished as possible.
But I’m not trying to make masterpieces.
I don’t want to make films to show that I can be committed to a project, because I don’t have to anymore.
I want to make films to show that I lived, and I learned.
And for that, I have CHORES, my sister, my friends, and even my mistakes, to thank.
If you learned something from my story, feel free to leave a few claps or a response down below. I’ll try not to obsess over them but I’d still really appreciate it. :)