Outlook 2018: The importance of 'passion projects'
Anthony Marinelli
Issue: December 1, 2017

Outlook 2018: The importance of 'passion projects'

Anthony Marinelli is a Partner and Editor at TwoPointO (www.twopoint0.tv), a creative collective of editors. Here, he discusses the importance of taking on the occasional ‘passion project.’

When you work in a creative field, you tend to categorize yourself, put yourself in a box. For actors, this box can take the form of typecasting, wherein a person is called upon to portray the same type of character based on their physical attributes or a type of performance they’d given in the past (think Robert DeNiro as a gangster or Jennifer Aniston as Jennifer Aniston). But whereas typecasting is a reflection of how others see you, how we see ourselves can often lead us to a certain mindset that limits us creatively. Now, ever since the Great Recession, there appear to be greater opportunities to re-balance the art of what we do with the commerce, thus removing those limits or barriers we set up for ourselves. 

I’ve been an editor for over 20 years and I’m happy to say I’m doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to do. But what keeps me motivated and constantly excited about what I do on a daily basis is the focus on passion projects, or labors of love, that I dedicate myself to at least once a year. 

It started about eight years ago, when I decided to direct a play to promote a feature film I was putting together. The play was Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love,” which was always one of my favorites. Without neglecting any of my “real work” (and I stress this because I believe it’s very important to manage your time wisely so as not to interfere with your source of income), I raised the necessary funds, produced and directed the play, and designed all the promotional materials (with the help of some very talented and patient friends). The play opened in NYC at the American Theatre of Actors on West 54th Street, and the feeling of flexing muscles I didn’t even know I had was so exhilarating, I made it my mission to keep doing it every year. 

The following year, after producing and directing “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune,” I knew I had to keep that promise to myself. It was the hardest work I’d ever done but I learned so much about my own personal resilience, fortitude and capabilities, that I just had to keep going (I’ve made two short films that screened at Cannes and won awards, and this year, I just made it under the wire with a short play I wrote and directed called “Max & Domino,” a semi-finalist in the New York New Works Theatre Festival). Another result of this work was realizing a goal I’d had for many years.  

In forming TwoPoint0 (in partnership with executive producer Wendy Rosen), I was able to take what I’d learned about myself in facing the daunting tasks of doing the types of work in which I’d had little experience before, and face down any doubts about what I wanted to achieve in my chosen profession. 

Don’t get me wrong; none of this is easy. It takes time, complete understanding from family members (especially when I tell my wife she’s not going to see me for a month or two while I’m rehearsing nights and weekends), and the ability to thrive on very little sleep. But I not only believe passion projects have made me a better editor and more valuable to my clients, they’ve helped me to grow as an individual both personally and professionally. 

I am currently working on a documentary with director/DP, David Seth Cohen, Finding Sandler, which is about David’s efforts to have a drink with Adam Sandler after having passed up the opportunity when Sandler made the offer years ago. I met David through a producer friend who told me he was looking for an editor with a “director’s sensibility.” I would not have been able to honestly admit to this sensibility had I never experienced directing first-hand through projects I initiated. 

It’s easy to become jaded in our industry. A labor of love can result in reigniting a passion for your chosen profession and perhaps remind you why you chose it in the first place. I believe that is why, in this post-Great Recession industry, we’re experiencing this re-balance between the commerce of our business and the art; keeping ourselves inspired with passion projects is not only a great way to stay in the game, the challenges we create for ourselves keep us fresh and constantly growing.