China Diary

Day 51: The Fear Is Here


Finally, today, the Fear arrived.

This is what I’ve been waiting for, knowing it’s on its’ way, but haven’t really felt it until this morning. The Fear. The Impending Doom. The “Impostor Syndrome”.

I’ve had it twice before, and now it’s here for the third time. It happens every time a little bit before shooting the new film begins, and it hits you hard. It’s the horrific understanding that in a very, very short time you have to helm a project worth of millions of dollars, hyper-professional actors and crew around you, while the clock is ticking away and the producers are watching over your performance, and you have to deliver an impeccable film and make no mistakes. It’s the understanding of the pressure that’s been building up for the last one and a half years, and the realizing you can’t run away anymore, no matter what. It’s the fear of being exposed as a “fraud”, not knowing what you are doing, how you are going to pull this one off and the feeling that soon everyone will know you’ve just been fooling them, that you’re not a real director and should never helm a project of this or any other scale.

It’s also the throat-crushing feeling that you’re not ready for the first shooting day. I haven’t had the naked-on-the-set -dreams yet for this movie, the ones where I walk on the set in just my underwear (or did I have one the other night… not totally sure), but they are coming for sure.

For the first Iron Sky, I remember my morning jog path went right past the first shooting location. For the few weeks before the shoot I stopped there, imagined how I would direct the day minute-by-minute. For Iron Sky The Coming Race, I wandered to the big studio every day for the last few weeks before the shoot, watching as the big set was being built, again, imagining how the first day will unfold.

Of course, the first shooting day went nothing like I had imagined. And that’s just fine. It’s amazing how quickly one adjusts to the chaos and flurry of the shoot. But the fear is the guiding light towards the first shooting day, and it won’t leave you. It’s actually a friendly feeling – if I didn’t have it, I should be more worried. Then, I would know for sure I’m not prepared at all. The Fear, instead, tells me that everything is moving to the right direction.

I think it was Spielberg, whom I don’t associate myself with at all but respect as a director hugely, who said that even still, after all these years, every first shooting day of his new film he has to pull off by the side of the road to puke.

Making a film is always such a big undertaking, preparation of many months and the expectations of hundreds, thousands – and eventually, millions, but the audience you shouldn’t worry about at this point – all coming down to one focal point of your life, and there’s nowhere to run.

But the Fear tells you’re doing the right thing.

So, no fear, the Fear is here.

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