Month: January 2017

Wannabeing

lolbabyjosie
me, successfully pretending I know how to use a sound recorder. (Copyright Miss Edison 2014)

I love the BFI. I love it so much. I have loved it since I first stepped foot in it, some three years ago now. I love the high ceilings, the swish cafés, the gorgeous red seats in NFT1, and the shop – oh, the shop. For someone who once, as a teenager, sighed with longing for The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and La Belle et la bête, neither of which were on sale at hmv Watford, a place which stocks everything from Georges Méliès DVDs to dorky film t-shirts to books on filmmakers from Abbas to Werner, it’s just heaven basically.

Plus, it’s got an incredible library. I’ve decided to make it my new place of work if I have to do something at all creative and pretend to myself that I am a wildly successful but also little-known filmmaker. I dress in my most creative-but-also-practical-because-I-am-just-here-to-work clothes, sashay up to the counter in the café, and in my most grown-up voice, order myself an “just an espressohh”. Working in a coffee shop is one way of being productive, because I suppose it gets you out of your house and the hubbub of the place can act as a sort of white noise. But when you are also surrounded by people you would like to be one day, you absolutely cannot drift onto Facebook, oh goodness me, no! You have to be working on your screenplay, or editing your latest film, or feverishly sending emails.

But one thing I have noticed when I have come here to read, write or just pay homage in my Sunday best, is that I am far from alone. While sipping my coffee and tapping away at something in a Courier New font, I take sly glances at the people around me and they’re doing exactly the same. Alone and yet altogether, we rake our fingers through our hair, visibly burdened by the weight of our genius. We love cinema but oh, how we suffer for it! (Does it show?)

It even comes through in people’s conversations. Not that I actively eavesdrop on other people, of course, and perhaps it’s the acoustics of the place – but you hear that air of “mm, yes, yes I do do film” in each carefully articulated phrase or better yet, pause to consider. “Hmm…yes, that could work.” That very quiet enjoyment of how impressive you might be to the other person, how clever and experienced and witty you sound.

Now, it could seem intolerable to be surrounded by people trying to sound clever and successful, and sometimes it is. It absolutely is. But it is also completely wonderful to realise that whatever age these people are, they’re all exactly the same as me – just faking it until, or even after, they make it. It’s just like that moment on the first film I worked on when, after having done our best to pull everything together and starting to film, we all at once realised we were making a film. A film! Us! And this excitement hit us all as though out of nowhere and we took a bunch of pictures of the slate, the set and the kit.

If people who have worked in the industry for years and years can still sound like they feel surprised and delighted to be where they are, making films for money, then please sign me up. I will be the one trying to order coffees in a weird voice.

Single, unemployed, and vegan.

suv
phwoar look at the mug on that

“Fucking January!” is something which my very wonderful and talented housemate Temi has been given to scream every so often over the last few weeks. She has been suffering through a pretty gruelling Veganuary experience – because, as she has reasoned, being single and unemployed is bad enough but being vegan on top of it all is just far, far too much. And since we’re apparently facing the end of Western civilisation as we know it (thanks Nigel, thanks Donald), now more than ever we should take pleasure in the simple glory of a very cheddar-heavy plate of cheese on toast.

As for me, I haven’t gone in for Dry January or an arbitrary health kick like that.

Instead, I thought I’d try to just completely change my life.

You know that feeling at Christmas and New Year’s parties, when you’re catching up with people for the first time in ages, and even before you leave the house, when you’re still working up the courage to use the confusing new toiletries you got as presents from a distant aunt, you’re anxious about answering the question: “what are you up to these days?” I’ve been in this very terrible and uncomfortable and very un-me shaped rut which, because it was not at all shaped like I am (sort of like a smallish pork chipolata, incidentally), it meant that I was starting to forget how to be who I am. And being miserable, but finding it hard to register any of it as my experience because it just was not me.

So, I thought it would be best to maybe extract myself and search for greener pastures. Unfortunately, when you have spent a long, long time not really concentrating on yourself, it gets quite hard to work out exactly what and where these pastures are, so I suppose what I’m saying is that I lumbered off in the general direction of what might bring me some sort of joy besides Meridian Crunchy Peanut Butter (the official peanut butter of this blog). It was always kind of obvious, hindsight being 20:20 and all that, but after some soul-searching I realised that this was quite clearly going to be directing films. This is terrifying, because I don’t know how to do it yet. But I also didn’t know how to speak French or make a curry or write a dissertation or design a set, at some stage, until I learned how because I really wanted to. And I really, really want to do this (when I am not being afraid). I want to make cool weird things like Obvious Child and Flight of the Conchords and everything Agnes Varda has ever done, which is why I can, and why I will. This might sound a bit childish and simplistic, but that’s because desire is often childish and simplistic, and it’s easiest to formulate them in that way.

This blog, newly renamed Making Of, is about this kind of focused wander in the direction of what I want to do and who I want to be, as is, I guess, everything ever written by everyone. Great. But when everyone else is starting their 2017 by depriving themselves of what they enjoy, why not begin my year by letting myself go after what I want?