How Do You Define ‘Making It’ in the Art World?

April 23, 2015

Often the definition of what it means to be successful will vary from person to person. Is there a real point in an artist’s career where he or she can announce “I’ve made it”? New York Film Academy 8-Week Filmmaking graduate Anthony Moorman explores this topic in his documentary Making IT by focusing primarily on artists Eric Fortune, Andrew Bawidamann, and Brian Ewing’s daily struggles of making a living while staying creative.

making it

Making IT is an idea that came about with my friendship and creative collaborator Woodrow Hinton,” recalls Moorman. “Woody is an illustrator and artist. He was pitching an idea to me about making an art documentary about illustration. I wasn’t sure how to go about that, but over a two year process we figured out the logistics and strategy about telling a story about three working illustrators in the middle of their careers. We told that story through Woody’s eyes. It’s a personal journey about Woody, through his three friends. When Woody came to me with the title Making IT, and said the film is about how artists define success — are they or are they not ‘making it’? I was sold on the idea and knew we could tell an honest and fresh story.”

The film ultimately came together from late 2012 to 2014 with pre, pro, and post, over a three year period on a shoe string budget. Andrew Bawidamann, Brian Ewing and Eric Fortune are three excellent artists who are in the middle of their careers. This stage of their journey is the toughest because they’re on the edge of success, “Making it.” As most of us are aware, the road to success can be very arduous, and in this film, Moorman explores that path through the eyes of students, working professionals, and artists who are working at the top in their field.

Andrew Bawidamann
Andrew Bawidamann

One of the topics in the film is something that prospective students asks themselves all the time before enrolling at the New York Film Academy: is art school worth it? “We all agree that it’s expensive,” says Moorman. “But we can’t imagine our careers without art school or film school. Film school can be a place where you fail and it’s okay. As long as you learn and grow from that failure, your work or craft can only improve. I do wish I would have been more open to my instructors at NYFA. Sometimes as a film student you think you have it all figured out and you’re awesome. I kind of fell into that trap. Instructors are great people, and they are there to help you to improve. But I would say that if I hadn’t had my 8-Week Workshop experience at NYFA, I’m not sure I’d be where I am today. Furthering your education in any field can really be the key to success. You can’t discover the journey of an artist by living inside your own little world. You need to get out there, experience life a bit, and be okay with failing. Being a filmmaker is all about taking risks.”

Teaser Trailer from Tony Moorman on Vimeo.

Through his honest observations of students, recent grads, and art legends about the struggles and the dark times, Moorman hopes his film will not only inspire artists, but also spark an honest conversation about what it really takes to be a success. “We didn’t want to just say how cool it was to be an illustrator. Making that kind of film isn’t helpful,” said Moorman. “But really explaining to people that they need to work really hard for 10 years before they’ll actually make a living was the key message. I believe that also the message of the film industry. You’re not going to graduate and start working in the business and make a ton of money. No. You’re going to struggle, suffer, and crawl for a while. And if you’re lucky, you will make it out on the other side. So the goal was to make sure we prepared people and be honest to them about how hard it is to get in the business of the art world.”

Moorman is currently in production with Hinton on another art bio documentary on famed local artist C.F. Payne: an American Illustrator.

Making IT is now available on iTunes, Amazon, X-Box, and Google Play.