For me, college was an expensive waste of time. I wanted to be out shooting big-budget pictures or having lunch with Issa Rae. And yet I was in my student apartment surviving on canned Vienna sausages from the dollar store to lift the financial burden of my tuition off of my parents.
But I didn’t give up. Film was still my light at the end of the tunnel.
I fell in love with the exhaustion from late nights and early mornings on set, with failure, with success at festivals, and all the stress and bliss in between. I remember I was in eighth grade when I completed my first short film. It was met with roars of excitement from my peers and family. Fast forward to today, that excitement has died down. I used to be compared to Spike Lee, Robert Townsend, and John Singleton. Now I only hear crickets.
But while the applause has stopped and the cheers have grown silent, I still carry on. Spike Lee once said parents kill more dreams than anybody, and that statement remains true. Nonetheless, my parents want the best for me. At this point they and I know that the uncertainty of my passion makes it hard to support. I’ve burned through more money than I’ve earned because of film, and honestly, I’d do it again.
I love film because movies gives me a level of autonomy to govern the world I choose to inhabit. Film provided me the privilege to be free—to be myself and embrace the weirdness that accompanied it. I was allowed to exist beyond my blackness, no longer pigeonholed by society’s hyper-masculine and violent definition of a Black man.
I don’t need the applause or the cheers. I make movies for me and that’s enough.
Brandon Towns is a Chicago-based film producer, his new short film “The Wolf Among Us” will be launching a crowdfunding campaign on Seed&Spark in July.