The 3-Year-Itch: a New Year’s Alternative

Posted in Diary of a Directrix
December 31st, 2009 by Devi Snively (The Directrix)

Marilyn Monroe - Seven Year Itch[3]MM_7_year_itchWhile the idea of starting a whole new decade is pretty effin’ cool, I find my own life seems to evolve in trienniums personally.  Up until recently, I called it my “3 Year Itch,” because it would seem every 3 years, like clockwork, I’d have a major life reboot and start a whole new era.  Like a snake, I’d shed the skin I’d been donning and slip into the next.

And, having been involved in academia for most of my life, for me “the new era” always seems to begin with the start of a new school year.  So New Year’s Eve has never been nearly so monumental as Labor Day weekend somehow.  It’s always the time when my life seems to transition into the next phase.

SadiemergedFred_stevens2 trienniums ago I made the official transition from screenwriter to full on filmmaker.  After dabbling with the idea of directing through a few smaller experimental projects, I made the decision to give it a serious go.  During that time we shot Teenage Bikini Vampire, Confederate Zombie Massacre!, and Raven Gets a Life, I traveled to endless festivals and I began teaching my horror film class.  Interestingly, that triennium ended right after we shot trippin’ – the end of one era, the beginning of a next.

devi stressed smdevi revises schedule smShooting trippin’ changed everything.  It was wonderful and devastating and proof positive that, for better or worse, this indeed is what I want to be “when I grow up.”  Suddenly it was not enough to be a film fest gypsy and make short films for fun while teaching, writing scripts that would never get made and contemplating a PhD and possibly studying flamenco.  I wanted to make films “for real.”   I was ready to commit.  Then Life said, “Okay!” and I landed the slot at AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women and moved to L.A for the summer.

deathinchargetitle smShooting Death in Charge was a whole new experience that never could have happened without trippin’.  On trippin’ I learned more than I had in all of film school and our previous 6 short films combined.  But Theyre Dead smDeath was the first time I had the luxury of actually being “director,” rather than “chick in too many hats who sometimes gets to direct, too.”  Having had a taste of what it was like to work with a budget, a soundstage, a full team of professionals and solid equipment – I knew there was no going back.

Surprisingly, the next 2 years would prove rather confusing and unrewarding in many ways.  I came back to Indiana to realize that I was not likely to achieve my goals there, but when I came back here I was no longer sure what those goals truly were.  Ah, there’s nothing so sweet as an existential crisis to kick off one’s move to La-La land.

Player_071127023321994_wideweb__300x34203a_08_spacey_243x173L.A. seems to bring out the best in some and the worst in others, especially those involved in the film industry.  That’s understandable. A scary amount of hopefuls are vying to achieve  a feat against seemingly impossible odds – to be one of the few who gets to live her dream.  Sadly, many become insecure, discouraged, bitter,  and even mean.  Yet almost all of them have endless advice to share.  During my first year here, I made the mistake of listening to it.  To quote William Goldman, Nobody knows anything,” to which I’ll add, “least of all how somebody else should live her life.”

wizard-of-oz2Interestingly, in talking to friends who’ve been here longer than I, I’ve discovered maybe that’s a good sign.  The people here whom I admire most seem to have gone through a similar journey.  Sometimes one has to learn lessons the hard way in order to truly learn them, and what doesn’t kill us (or turn us into bitter, insecure mean a-holes) makes us stronger, right?

dc devi marya smHow optimal that my latest triennium began last September at Dragon*Con, where I had experienced the magical world premiere of  Teenage Bikini Vampire on the kick-off of 2 trienniums ago when I’d first decided to “become a filmmaker.”  This year they screened a retrospective of my work (5 of our shorts in their very own block) and awarded me with The Spirit of Dragon*Con Award.  I came home to finally finish trippin’ which somehow kicked off  my 4-month “walkabout” on the fest circuit taking me back to EnglandNew York up to Alaska and endless other amazing destinations.  I’ve met some of the most generous, talented wonderful filmmakers I’ve ever come across before. And I came back to L.A. with brand new eyes, focus and a new love of my craft.  Somewhere along the way I also found myself again, and this time I brought her back to L.A. with me.  Existential crisis officially over.  To quote Johnny Nash, “I can see clearly now.”

DSCF0215DSCF0131aI used to worry about my “3 Year itch.”  I feared it was a sign of commitment issues or ADD or fickledom.  But I realize it’s not an “itch” at all.  It’s actually just my learning curve.  Every three years I find a new major life lesson to learn.  Chances are I won’t even recognize it until after the lesson’s been well learned and applied. It takes three years for me to learn what I truly want and, in some cases, to learn what I don’t want.  It takes 3 years to establish and achieve a truly important goal.  It takes 3 years to really get to know another person and determine if they’re to be life-long friends.  It takes 3 years to get to know if a new destination could also become a place to call “home.”

pre feast toast smI welcome the new decade and look forward to a fun celebration with friends tonight.  However, I’ve already celebrated the dawn of my new Triennium which is well underway.  As we sip our eggnog and champagne (not in the same glass hopefully) amid the festivities may we all feel like each day brings us one step closer to our dreams.  Now, enough introspection, the countdown until my next sip of life-celebrating champagne is on…

Happy New Year!

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