Filmmaking-Focus.com celebrates the joy of filmmaking. Each week we tell the story of a different filmmaker.
Donald L. Vasicek: Filmmaking is a Constant Learning Process
Monday, January 8th, 2007
Before he found his niche in filmmaking, Donald L. Vasicek held a slew of jobs that varied greatly including liquor store clerk, mortuary attendant, paralegal, brewery worker, milk man and limo driver among others. Apparently something just wasn’t clicking for Vasicek career-wise and it wasn’t until a client asked him to work on a documentary project that he found his true calling.
Vasicek was working as a writing consultant and screenwriter at the time when a nuclear physicist, who was also a lesbian, asked him to help her create a documentary film about who gays and lesbians really are. The film, Faces, took one year and $72,000 to complete and by the end of it, Vasicek was smitten with the industry. Today, this Colorado resident has 16 years experience and is making great strides.
His list of films that he has had the opportunity to work on and direct is quite impressive and includes multi-million dollar features like Warriors of Virtue and Born to Win. He also has worked on quite a few documentaries including an eight phase multi-million dollar project called Sand Creek Massacre that is based on the slaughter of more than 450 Cheyenne and Arapaho people that occurred in 1864 in his home state. Vasicek has also worked as an extra/actor in well-known films such as Die Hard 2 and Mystery of Flight 1501 among others.
Even with tons of experience, Vasicek says that he still feels like a novice at the beginning of each project. “The technology, the story, and the characters, the crew, the human beings involved in the making of a film, are new each time a project is launched,” explained Vasicek. “So, I have considerable learning and growing to do as I am shooting the film. The longer the shoot goes, the more I feel like I know something about filmmaking, and the more confidence I get.”
Vasicek prides himself on using a lot of movement in his films. “The more boring the theme is to be, the more dynamic I make it through movement. Movement helps develop characters and the story. Without it, the characters and story are dependent upon dialogue. If I want my films to be dependent on dialogue, then I probably should write, direct, and produce stage plays instead of film. It has to be that way for me.”
While Vasicek boasts of being a strong storyteller and writer, he admits that he could use some improvement in the technical aspects of filmmaking and that he has even been the victim of gossip on some of his sets because of his shortcomings.
“I’m more of a creative type,” said Vasicek. “I can visualize the characters, the story, and the scenes and how they should be shot complete with lighting and sound. I simply need technical help in getting that on film. The reality of this is that it is also my job to be as technically adept as possible. So, it’s a constant learning process, sometimes embarrassing when I show how technically inept I am to the crew or a crew person. This distracts me and it is very frustrating and annoying.”Making films has not always been easy for Vasicek and he stresses the importance of being mentally and physically fit to meet the challenges that are inherent with the filmmaking process. “You have to have the ability to take risks and to live through those risks: financial risks, production risks, creative risks, human interaction risks, lighting risks, sound risks, camera risks, editing risks. The list of risks is infinite. You need to be able to visualize end results, the rewards, for the risks you take to be successful in this business.”