What Nobody Tells You About Being A Movie Director by Dale Stelly

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Film Courage: When have you been the most scared in your career?

Dale Stelly, Filmmaker (COMPTON’S FINEST, SINGLE BLACK FEMALE and more): It’s scary when you are dealing with people’s dreams and stuff and you are not able to make their dreams come totally true or what have you. You’re dealing with a lot of dreamers out here in LA.

My whole thing is I like to help people as people have helped me, you know what I mean? But a lot of people dream big and it’s like sometimes people dream bigger than what they can actually accomplish which is nothing wrong with it but I hate…not hate…but dislike when you set a goal to work with people or situations and it doesn’t go in a direction that you expected and that can be kind of disheartening sometimes because you put your heart and energy in productions. And it’s just like having a baby and then certain things can go wrong during the pregnancy. You might break up with the husband or cheated on you while you are pregnant or something. That’s what I’m saying, like a movie production things can go wrong like that with a pregnancy and the energy is all off.

So I like to be part of productions even though there is no money or little money or whatever, but everyone is positive or sticking to the goal until we finish. I usually (90% of the time) take on projects that I know I can actually bring to fruition and to life.

There are sometimes when you tackle some things and some things are not meant to be even though you are putting your whole heart and passion and resources and running every single play that you can to make it a successful production. But some things are not meant to be and I found out during the course of my career not everybody is meant to be helped out, you know what I mean?

I found out the hard way that sometimes certain people want to take advantage of you and they will say certain things to get you to help them. And once you’ve help them, they flip the script on you. And it’s kind of like “Arrghh!” I just give everyone the benefit of the doubt. And it is always great when a project is green lit or what have you.

But sometimes people see things that are not there yet and I’m always like let’s finish the product before you start thinking about dollars or deals or whatever. But you can’t control people’s expectations or the way they feel. And I know these cameras and actors and lights, it comes with certain expectations. And certain things comes with this territory that you just have to know how to deal with it.

Film Courage: I had someone I knew who read Andy Warhol’s biography and this person was telling me that certain people loved him but other people were mad at him because they were like “No…you were supposed to make me famous.” Even thought this wasn’t necessarily the agreement, this is what they thought. And so that is a reality of what happens in this town, whatever you’re doing somebody could think “Well you didn’t help me become famous and I was supposed to become famous.”

Dale: Right. My thing is I don’t put my career in nobody’s hands, you know what I mean? I try to be responsible for my own success. When you rely on other people do be successful that’s not the route to go. The road to go is do whatever it takes and if that’s in yourself and all your hard energy and your goals and at the same time you can help other people with the common goals and it goes back and forth but it takes a lot of energy to make this all come to life.

Film Courage: There is this one quote and I think it’s from a female musician [Patti Smith] and she says just keep your name clean and good. And I think that’s great, a lot of people have honorable intentions but sometimes you can’t help if the other person gets mad and it’s not something that you did.

Dale: Yes, right. Like I said I’m not perfect. I don’t think anyone is perfect. And everyone goes into situations with a common goal which is whatever the goal is, let’s get it done. But with creativity and the creative process and everyone being individuals and everyone being responsible for certain things to happen so other things can happen, sometimes things don’t go right and sometimes people do get mad and sometimes people do not understand what you were doing for them in the beginning. It can turn into a headache, things can turn into headache. But my thing is what puts away the headaches at the end of the day is when the product eventually gets completed and it comes out, you know what I mean?

I’ve been on productions a couple of times where people wanted to hurt people and stuff. And at the end of the day when the movie comes out and everything and it came out through Sony and the way it was supposed to, people forgot about the arguments and wanting to fight on set and things of that nature. But nothing is perfect and that’s why I stay prayed-up as much as I can and pray for successful situations. Even if it goes wrong, figure out how to get it back on track. I don’t like to be part of negative situations because it’s already hard enough, whatever the goal is already. If it wasn’t hard it would already be done or it would already be financed or it would already be done (with a bigger situation). So to me I’m always like an underdog compared to these other studios. I know exactly what to do but I don’t have the manpower or the money behind me. It might take me longer to figure it out but I can eventually figure out whatever the goal is or task is. It’s just a matter of time. In this business, money pays for things to get done faster, you know what I mean? So on that note, it’s knowing how to use your time and money effectively and everything eventually gets done.

Questions For The Viewers: When have you been the most scared in your career?



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