Scene from My Effortless Brilliance. Photo: Elie Goral

Scene from My Effortless Brilliance. Photo: Elie Goral

The experience of making my first feature film, We Go Way Back, was enormously satisfying and utterly life changing. But for my second outing, I wanted to stray into uncharted waters, leaving behind the traditional way of making movies and trying an experiment instead. I would eject as many pieces of equipment from the set as possible and reduce the crew from fifty to four. Instead of working from a traditional script, I would allow the actors to improvise their lines from an eight page outline. I wanted to treat narrative film as a documentary in the hopes of achieving an aesthetic of extreme realism.

Two weeks before the shoot, I had a total panic attack. What the hell was I doing? Who did I think I was? Would an actual film result from these efforts? I hadn’t a clue. But I realized that great art is not possible without great risk. And I created this soothing mantra for myself: “No matter what happens in the end, we are going to have a fabulous time in the trying.” Then, I made absolutely sure that we did. And I have made absolutely sure of it on every film project since.