I consider myself a very fortunate individual. I consider myself a hard working individual. I consider myself a successful individual. GASP. Yes. I’ll say it again: I consider myself a successful individual. And this is why.
Pursuing a career as an artist has offered me an exceptional platform in which to learn full and honest self acceptance and dare I say it, love. It is a life course designed to challenge a person’s trust in self, resilience and self discipline. It can be rigorous; time and time again we see examples in history of brilliant individuals who went unnoticed and unpaid during their lifetimes only to be appreciated in the years after their deaths. All of this to say, it may sound pessimistic but I find that the best way to find happiness in the pursuit as an artist is to appreciate the doing, the moment, the tribe created around the work rather than the potential of a pay out.
Don’t get me wrong, money makes it possible for the art to be done more routinely, to reach a greater potential, if not a greater audience. But we cannot control whether or not the money comes in. We can, however, put our efforts in celebrating the act and giving respect and props to those that act alongside us.
A number of years ago I wrote a feature film. It has been the vessel in which I’ve learnt a number of elements surrounding independent productions. It’s my passion project, my heart spot, the piece I am most excited to see to come to life.
I am entirely grateful for the experiences the writing of this script has offered me. I’ve had the chance to step out of my comfort zone and travel on my own to attend workshops, using the project as a means of exploring different elements of production, post and distribution. Through these workshops, I’ve met a number ofbrilliant individuals, sparked many-a wonderful conversation, some which still keep going. Most importantly, it gave me a way to find a path so that I had a sense of direction moving forward. There are still many-a-learning spots but I feel confident in my road.
Recently, my feature film project (entitled The Last Caribou) was selected by the Writer’s Guild of New Zealand to be brought to life at a table read. This was the first time that I’d heard my project read aloud from front to back, and with professional actors to top it off. This was a really neat experience for a few reasons that I’ll briefly outline.
The first was the joy in hearing jokes land and warm moments sit at the spots I’d hoped they would. There isn’t too much else to say around this other than it feels good.
The second is a little tougher to explain but it goes a little something like this: because I’ve been sitting with this piece for so long, I know the characters, the environment and the challenges inside and out. That’s not to say that there isn’t room for a tweak or two, but where we are, where we’re going and who “we” are is clear to me. The major work has come in smoothing out the road the leads from start to finish.
When I heard the story spoken aloud, along with the immense joy mentioned previously, it felt like a series of cogs set into place. All of the problems I was having was pacing seemed to stand out in red and the solutions, most taking place six scenes back, stood up and waved. In three days, I had a new draft sketched out, alleviating some of the problems that I’d had an impossible time with previously and an idea of how to work out the rest.
The last joy was the simple fact that before I had turned thirty, my work had been read in an international arena. And not any arena, one of the two countries that I am most eager to do work in at some point in my career. I so admire the tone and style of stories that come out of that country, it was truly an honour to have my work read there.
To be completely candid, I cried when I heard my work read. While grinning like an idiot. It was a small step, but the journey to that little place was huge and the friends I encountered, the experiences I had in relation to that work: unforgettable.
So here’s to celebrating cupcake-sized successes. And savouring every last bite.