Filmmakers and film students have passion projects. They may not make money, but they are something that appeals to your creativity, sense of beauty, life purpose or adventure. It may be a long-held dream of yours, or something deep within you that you've just uncovered that needs to be expressed or built. It's something that captures your imagination. It won't be birthed without you making it happen.
I suspect that the movie Boyhood, currently being honored in movie award season, was a passion project for both it's director, Richard Linklater, and the cast who worked 12 years to capture the essential changes a boy goes through growing up as he matures and adjusts to his family divorcing and moving. He considered it a "once-in-a-lifetime" film making experiment. The writers wrote 12 scripts for the film, one for each year's filming.
The film Boyhood, while fictionalized, was adjusted to follow the developing personality and life changes the lead actor, Ellar Coltrane went through from age six through high school graduation. There were significant challenges getting the production team and actors to be available to work on the film for such a significant span of time. Linklater created continuity between the 12 sections of the filming in keeping a consistent tone, weaving in his own take on life experiences and memories. He wanted the film to unfold, much in the way our lives do. The result of Linklater's passion project is a moving film that makes you reflect on the elusive nature of memories and trying to remember what you felt at any one time in your life. It's an emotional illustration of the power of time passing. Don't miss it.
How about finding a passion project of your very own? Perhaps you have an idea, or you may want to allow yourself to germinate some ideas about what your project might be that would make your heart happy.
A passion project could be to start a group, begin doing photography or art, volunteer to help a cause you care deeply about, or build something. It's possible that at watershed moments in life, you may realize that you have finished a passion project and need to develop a different one. I'm currently counseling people who are navigating the significant life change of launching children and moving on, rebuilding a life after losing a partner or retiring from work that was fulfilling. These are all especially good times to develop a passion project.
You might consider what makes you come alive and how you can utilize your own gifts to create change. You will need a vision and a mission. You can have a vision at the micro-level which will just impact you or your family, or you can have a macro-vision which will help create positive change beyond your personal world. Your mission can help you claim your power to engage your passion and build a purposeful life.
A passion project doesn't have to develop into a business, although it could. It's a way to satisfy a deep desire to create something. It can't be done for the money, fame or recognition. It's got to purely motivated to express or create something and to share it with others.
Give yourself some blank sticky notes or a journal and let the ideas begin to germinate about what you can be passionate about creating. When people are dying, they don't ever regret the time spent with loved ones or the time invested in passion projects. It's what gives our lives meaning and significance.
This past fall, I have been progressively losing someone close to me from terminal cancer. It's been a small passion project of mine to be creating an English garden that is becoming a quiet sanctuary, a connection to nature and flowers that I share with my family and a peaceful gathering spot for close friends. It's been very meaningful to be creating and building concurrently with the journey of losing a loved one. I can't wait for the roses to bloom in a few months. It's time to begin considering a different project soon.
What's your passion project? I feel sure there is one or two of them out there for each of us if we can quiet our lives and our minds enough to reflect on it. You don't have to have attended film school to have one. Find someone you can talk with about your passions, and how you could give them life.