There’s something distinctly delicious about food that’s been slow cooked. Nothing quite compares to your favourite roast falling off the bone as you savour each meltingly yummy bite. Yet, another method exists of cooking that packs just as flavourful a punch. The quick fry. Calamari needs only a few moments of intesnse heat in order to deliver the fresh, juicy, tantilization often dipped into a zesty tartar sauce. Any longer and it becomes your article of preference as you practice your basketball shots using the bin. The similarity between these two methods of cooking is one: preparation.
“Preperation is a season, not a ritual.”
I must say, my journey in the film industry has been slow preperation, quick cook. Mainly defined by years of not a single decent project coming my way to fulfilling weeks of handling my first short film with a talented, first-time cast and a skeleton crew. Before proceeding, allow me to define what I considered “decent”:
1. Well paying
2. High-end equipment
3. Reasonable hours
4. Managed expectations and realistic planning
5. Clearly demarkated roles
How did my formative “newbie” years, which contributed greatly to my hasty conclusion look like? Slugging it out. That’s any initiate’s gateway towards seeing your name roll up the screen of a respectable film. I’ve gone to bed at 2am making final production arrangements and woken up at 4am to prepare catering for the cast and crew. I’ve sat over my laptop for days on end, often inciting volatile spasms in my neck, writing proposals for projects that I was later elbowed out of. Ouch. I’ve worked a straight 19 hour shoot on swollen feet then stayed behind to pack up when all I wanted to do was pass out. I’ve been roped in for production and ended up pouring my skills into the company’s internal administration with no extra pay or credit. There have been projects where we’ve slashed the price so low in order to “meet the client halfway”, it ended up costing us more than it made us. I’ve had sponsors disregard their commitment and pull out at the most crucial phase of the project, leaving me to pacify upset, unpaid crew….and a bewildered ego. The kicker is dealing with fellow believers and their wonderful ‘get out of ethical practice’ one-liner, “God will reward you”. It’s been a real. But I made a decision:
“All this grinding was sharpening me, not blitzing me to a pulp”
A shift in my perception helped me to see things differently. Starting from what I considered “decent”
4. Open mindedness
5. Room to grow
Wealth is a funny thing. It seldom comes from your bank account but resides in your ideas, network and experience. You have to build it before ever getting to benefit from it. Deep, taxing foundations and endless shuffling in the dirt become your daily bread. What kept me motivated was the fact that I was acutely aware of the future I desired. This too shall pass. You got your mark on that graduation day? Be willing to pay up. Most importantly, aspiring for a destiny bigger than yourself helps you to step back and be less selfish. Ok, you’re over it now but this isn’t about you. It never was. What you have, lets say its a gift, means nothing to you unless it comes into contact with others. Most likely for the better. Sooner or later, you’ll want to expose your gift with the intention to gauge how it makes someone else feel. Another way to put it is excersising your calling.
“Calling is using your gift for influence, not affluence”
Enter my short film, an awareness project on the issue of Human Trafficking called “Woke Up This Way”. Since 2015 to present, we’ve been meandering an interesting space of finding ways to use media for social advocacy as a production company. Media can shape a lot of thinking, but it doesn’t think for itself. It takes someone behind the wheel to create topics which consciously affect the recepient. So as the two production weeks snowballed, crammed with final draft of the script, rehearsals, round the clock shoots and a marathon edit; the mechanisms seemed to gush out of me almost naturally. First time actors on a tight schedule? No problem. I had a vision to see fresh talent developed merged with razor focus on timeline execution. Funding impossibilities, even for a worthy cause? Tight. If I couldn’t get the finances, what about negotiating for the things I was going to buy / rent with the money? Besides, off the bat, this wasn’t my big cashing in. Woke Up This Way was a re-investment of the wealth I’d been establishing. Every project I’d stuck it out on had been a preperation for this. I used to believe I was languishing in mishaps, misfortunes and missed maximised potential. However, the truth is, I was left marinading for the quick cook. Its akin to learning maththematics. You go to school for 12 years, memorizing those tedious diagrams. Fast forward and its hard to come by a scenario that requires you to deduce the missing angle of a parellelogram. “What was all that about?” you scoff. “What good did it do me?”. Never connecting that the drilling was to stimulate an analytical mind.
“While you may not encounter the same battle twice, your strength will be tested continuously”
I’m grateful for all my experiences now – the good, the bad, the ugly cry. They are my tools to pry open awkward opportunities. Let’s face it, nobody is banging down my door (yet) and things don’t always come wrapped in pretty bows. My best shot is doing what nobody else is doing or wants to do. Which will butterfly into my edge in the future. That cognisense cushioned the mistakes I made with a tenacity to improve. It also nudged me to find my rhythm in the dance of life.
Blessings and love