Rose Lagace: To Dream On or to Dream Big
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Parents are constantly asking their children this question as if their child actually has a choice in the matter. What parents forget to mention is that this question almost always excludes artistic endeavours. The real question parents should forthrightly be asking is, “What do you want to be when you grow up within the confines of what we find acceptable for you which we pre-planned before you were even born?”
I left you last with the story of the circumstances and film which led to my journey into filmmaking as a freshman in high school. I was so ecstatic that I had figured out what I wanted to do with my life that I told everyone I was going to be a filmmaker. My teachers knew, my friends knew, kids in the hallway knew (and rightfully didn’t care). I had a picture of filmmaker Martin Scorsese, in his late fifties at the time, in my locker right next to my Backstreet Boys pinups. I had fallen in love with film and felt the need to express myself through this medium. The only problem was getting my parents on board.
(A dead-on ad for the College for Creative Studies in Detroit)
The first time I told my parents that I was going to work in film my Dad scoffed, “Dream on.” It wasn’t exactly the reception I was hoping for. That was the first “Dream on” I’d heard from my father on the subject but certainly not the last. Through every single roadblock or seemingly unattainable goal that I set for myself on my journey into and through the film industry, I would hear it again and again. My Dad thought I was living in some sort of fantasy land with unicorns and flying Werner Herzogs.
There is a difference between a pipe dream and a large attainable goal. It’s not like I was Quasi Modo dreaming of being the next Angelina Jolie. I didn’t say I was going to be the next Scorsese either. Had I lived in Toronto or Los Angeles perhaps this would have seemed feasible to my parents, but given my upbringing in a factory town, they had assessed that this was not a possibility. However, they underestimated my passion and resolve.
After high school I did not get into the film school that I had dreamed of going to and instead my parents and friends pressured me into going to the College ten minutes away from the home I grew up in my whole life. After my failed attempt to go to film school, my dreams of filmmaking were fading fast and I nearly gave up the fight – if it weren’t for a particular filmmaker who opened my eyes.
In my second year of college I went to Toronto to see a filmmaking lecture by Spike Lee. “Parents kill more dreams than anyone,” he said. He went on to motivate us not to allow our parents to crush our dreams. That our dreams were ours for the taking and given everything we had at our disposal compared to his generation how dare we believe otherwise.
So that was it. I decided then and there to move to Toronto after graduation whether I had the money or not and without the benefit of going to film school. I went home and told my parents. Again my Dad said, “Dream on,” but I decided I’d rather live in the Toronto Greyhound bus station working on short films for free than continue to feel stifled in my hometown.
Thanks to my parents, however skittish they may have been, I didn’t have to move into the bus station. That would’ve been weird. Instead I moved with my sister into a basement apartment in Little Italy chosen only for its proximity to Queen Video on College Street. I worked in a convenience store and later HMV to pay the bills and volunteered for films on the side. It was during this process that I fell truly madly and deeply in love with the art department.
As the years progressed I received more and more calls for film work. By year four I had constant and steady paid work but I decided to set bigger goals. I wanted to work on the big productions so I unionized and luckily found steady work with better pay. Even I didn’t expect that.
This year I’ve set an even larger goal. I’m going to make my first proper short films and get as many people as I can to see them through traditional and non-traditional means. I’ve started writing scripts on weekends while working full time in the art department on a television series and things are going well. Over the Christmas break I went home and told my Dad I was going to start making my own films in 2012 slowly but surely.
For the first time ever my Dad did not say, “Dream on.” To my surprise (and his, I think), he said, “So this film thing is actually working out for you. I’m happy for you.” I still have a long way to go but I am happy to have my dad on board.
“We spend most of our lives cutting down our ambitions because the world has told us to think small. Dreams express what your soul is telling you, so as crazy as your dream might seem—even to you—I don’t care: You have to let that out.”