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Origin

Its been 10 years since I picked up a camera and started making cheap movie spoofs with my friends *unceremoniously blows noisemaker*. We met every week in the evening after film class and would brainstorm, storyboard, shoot and edit these ridiculous comedy sketches all in the span of 4 or 5 hours. I smuggled in some equipment from the school, they didn't notice it was missing for over a year, and didn't notice when I gave it back either. Sometimes we would stay all night in the Church we used, sitting around the computer watching me edit in Final Cut, laughing hysterically at every shot just because of our corny acting and constant outtakes.

After the city had been devastated by a Tornado and the Church was full of disaster relief volunteers every week, we eventually went back to filmmaking. After all, now we had hundreds of new people every few days to record doing stupid stuff. We actually got the Church to SHOW our little videos IN SERVICE to EVERYONE... Which made it so much more rich. Nothing is more hilarious than making some ultra-conservative 80-year-old man watch us bench press another person, or a time-lapse of Jeremy eating 40 pancakes.


A 16 year old Will Reasoner forcing some poor volunteer to well.. You see

I was offered a Directing job on a national TV show when I was 18 years old. They had seen my work and thought I had potential I guess.. In my head it would be just like our comedy sketches but on steroids. So, I crammed as many things as I could into my Chevy Camaro and drove from Joplin, Mo to Tampa, Fl. I remember my first production meeting, they wanted ideas for next season and I started rambling on about some abstract concept where every shot focused only on the actors' hands that I had just made up right then. I finally shut up, and there are like 12 people looking at me with these blank expressions, their average age roughly twice mine. Finally the executive producer speaks up and exclaims "I Love it!", even I was like ,"Are.. Are you sure?".

I shared an office with some 40-year-old guy who I would attempt to joke with only to be met by a glare before he returned to his work. He knew I was there to replace him because I came at a discount, he had already taken a pay cut, and refused to lower his salary anymore to keep his job. This was a Christian show on a Christian network and funded by a big church, but basically one man was in charge. He was making a killing funneling his books through the network's ads and he spent most of every week vacationing in Miami and the Bahamas, yet, more than a quarter of his employees were unpaid interns who were promised jobs after enough hard work. He had no intention of offering them such positions.

It took me a couple weeks to realize what a crook this guy was, it took me several more to finally stand up to him, and not so many more for him to fire me. So I threw my shit in my Camaro and drove straight back into cold, dead, poverty ridden, miserable Missouri.


My career was effectively over as soon as it began. Since I didn't have any flights to catch and no Oscars to accept I figured the only thing left to do was get married to the only girl on Earth that thought filmmaking was attractive, and while we're at it we might as well get pregnant.


I was desperate for cash and had a baby to feed, so I started making shitty little TV Spots for the lovely local business owners. When I wasn't getting stiffed I made maybe 200 bucks a pop. I got divorced. The Church hated me for ever leaving in the first place, and they're not too keen on forgiveness.


Filmmaking had lost all of its color to me, like Zack Snyder color graded it.


I eventually worked my way into a Job, directing a new TV Show. I convinced my wife to come back, we rented some huge McMansion, I had money to eat EVERY DAY! I directed comedy sketches for the show with my old friends again. It felt like I had caught what I was chasing. I wanted to get paid to have as much fun making films as I did when I was an amateur, and that was happening for me. I felt like I was good at it. I was 5 years into my career and I had some experience now. It felt good knowing the answer to problems that arose and being successful at most everything I did.


So of course that went to shit..


The owner of the production company had this gambling problem. Apparently he blew more than half a million dollars at a casino in Oklahoma. Everyone got laid off.. My last three pay checks bounced and came out of my bank account 6 days before my rent was due. Naturally, my wife jumped ship as it was sinking, she had a knack for that. I was evicted from my home. My car was repossessed. I couldn't find any freelance work since no one wanted anything to do with my old boss or anyone with whom he was associated. I'm wading through a devastating divorce. The Church closed its doors.


I had nothing left but a Canon 5D and 3 lenses.


I still had access to the office building where I worked, but they didn't know that. I took all the desk chairs and tied them together with my belt so I could sleep on them. I did this for weeks. Problem was, a janitor came into each suite every night to clean, so I would hide in the bathroom until he left. One day, he had left, and I started my routine of constructing my outlandishly uncomfortable chair bed. He comes back in, and just happens to come to my room.


"What are you doing?" He says

"I'm.. uhh... just working late..." He knew me from when I had a job there.

This old, greyed man. His black skin all ashy from the cold, looks at me and his expression changes entirely. "You're living here, aren't you?"

"Yes.." Reluctantly..

"Okay." He nods and just leaves. Im so terribly nervous. Will the police come? Will he come back with the owner of the building and make me leave?

I keep watching out the window, too nervous to sleep. He pulls into the parking lot again.. He comes upstairs, and sets a plate of food on the desk "My wife made this for you". I hadn't eaten since I stole some guys sandwich out of the break room 5 days ago. He sat and spoke with me about what had happened. He promised he wouldn't tell anyone, and we started speaking every night when he cleaned.


I found a way to keep filmmaking even when I was homeless. Occasionally finding work, couch hopping, motels and hitchhiking with $5000 worth of camera equipment on my back.


I Directed my first Official Music Video during this time, and discovered what should have been evident to me. I have a deep love for music, I have a deep love for filmmaking, it just made sense. I learned how to do it in film school, and it just came naturally to me.





I don't know how the hell I did it, but I got a full time gig making ads for big companies, and Directed Music Videos on the weekends. I remember the first place I rented after my stint on the streets, this awful 120-year-old duplex. I swear to god a stiff wind would've knocked that place over. I slept with roaches over the sounds of domestic violence through the thin walls. It probably would have been much worse had I not always distracted myself with planning the next music video and getting on a plane to go shoot the next TV Spot.


I got out of that terrible place, and moved on from that job. I sit here today in my home office with my bags packed for a music video shoot in New York. Its been 10 years, but it feels like my career is just beginning. I'm thankful for the experiences, because they've inspired so much of my work today, and it makes me appreciate sitting in this warm house so much more.









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