C.O.G | Director Kyle Patrick Alvarez
[PREMIERE SCREENING: Sunday, Jan. 20, 8:30pm — Library Center Theatre, Park City]
Short of my personal relationships, I sacrificed everything for the film. Years of my life, my personal finances, all of my creative and professional resources. If I wasn’t willing do that, then what would be the point? If you’re not willing to sacrifice for what you love, than you don’t truly love it and if you don’t truly love film, you probably shouldn’t be an independent filmmaker. It’s too much of a challenge. You have to make sure to hold on to that initial spark that got you on to the film so tightly cause, and I hate to sound like a cynic, almost everyone will try and take that away from and try to convince you not to do it. I went through three years of straight out no’s on C.O.G. At some point it’s impossible to not point the finger at yourself and think “Am I crazy?” and “Should I give this up, move on?” or “Is it just not good enough?” It becomes so easy to hold the value of the sacrifice against itself, to confuse ambition with stubbornness and vice versa. Can you sacrifice too much for a movie? Of course you can, but you probably need to get yourself all the way to that breaking point before you decide to turn back and not do it.
However, for me, the trick is to eventually devalue all that sacrifice, to shed that burden of frustration and years of work once you do eventually get on set. You remember for one quick second that all that sacrifice was to get yourself to that point and then you forget about it for good until the movie is done. Your best work won’t get done if you’re thinking about everything you had to give up, it’ll drive you mad. So you do your best to hold onto to what it was about the story you loved in the first place and not let the years and denials and challenges get in the way of that.
The film certainly had to make its sacrifices too. Every six months I had to chop the budget in half. At the very end, when it finally came together, the money was so little I seriously questioned if the film would hold up. I took a really long look at the budget, where my restrictions would lie and if I’d be able to pull it off. Not every script should be made on a low budget just because it can. I was wary, but finally decided to go ahead with the little money we had. It worked. Honestly, I’m still surprised how much we got out of so little, but the cast and crew were so dedicated. Sacrificing budget is so much easier than sacrificing the quality of cast. I try to never forget that. Independent film is built on the quality of acting and my desire to control who was cast in the film was one of the things that made the movie take so long to get financed. Cast is the one thing a low budget film should never sacrifice but it’s the first thing everyone will ask you to let go of.
Ultimately I try to look at sacrifice as an extension of tenacity. I don’t think it’ll ever be easy for me to get a film of mine mounted or financed, but I’d be lying if I said that the difficulty hasn’t built character in me. The word “sacrifice” seems to inherently imply you’re giving up something you shouldn’t or don’t want to. I’d happily go back and give up anything I have or would need to if it were for a project I loved.