So it's been over a month now from when I received my first studio permissions rejection letters. Some were outright "No" and others asked for thousands upon thousands of dollars for seconds of footage I wanted to use and then still didn't guarantee clearance since technically the actors in the clips would also need to be contacted for permission to use their image. A simple "No" would have sufficed. And besides, all it takes is one "No" and the effect I had planned with the imagery no longer holds up. I was already defeated from the very first letter.
Alas. At first I was considerably upset. You know more than 4 people I know of now have actually cried they were so moved by the film...I watched my friend's cathartic reaction as my film did for her in 15 minutes what that Spiritual Warriors film failed to do in an entire hour 45! And now? I can't show it anywhere! Frustration doesn't even begin to cover it. But that was only my first thought. My second thought was of a most beautiful person I know who gave me a message. She said, "Don't worry about changing...you thought you were moving in one direction and then suddenly you found yourself somewhere entirely different. But it's not being changed, don't think of it as changing your film, think of it as enhancing it"
I had NO IDEA what the funk she was talking about at the time. But when I received my rejection letters, after the crying, came the revelation. I don't need the copyrighted footage. The film wasn't really hinging upon that footage, the iconic famous footage images were more of an enhancement. A layer. But as any good film editor knows, when you pull back and strip away a layer of content in your film, what's left in the cut ends up being more enhanced, more emphasized, standing out more than before. Suddenly you see things that you didn't see before, maybe even clearer because there's not all this other footage mixed in with it.
Then my mentor added, "You thought that your story needed that big famous movie footage to enhance it, but what you don't realize is that your story is it's own big movie. It's good enough all on it's own, just as good as any one of those other big movies."
I never thought of it that way before! Suddenly the worst news became the most inspiring vote of confidence that any out-of-work yet still capable and promising young filmmaker could hope to hear.
Here I was waiting around for somebody else to allow me to go forth. Waiting for them to grant me permission so I can move forward and send my film to festivals. Waiting to finally get back to being the filmmaker that I am. When really, it was in my power to do so all along!
The copyrighted footage has henceforth been completely cut from the film. A very genuine thank you to all those film studios and their "big movies" for responding to my request and providing me with the closure I needed so that here I am, finally, moving forward without permission.