The point of this post has two sides; one is to explain to those who might like an explanation, and the other is to help drag myself out of the past and into the present – if neither of these interest you, this post is something you could probably skip.
Ok, so where to begin… I’ll try here;
Whilst this technically isn’t the beginning, it will aid in explaining where I’ve been (stay with me for a moment). It was the 19th of March, 2018, and I was going to write a post titled Analysis Paralysis. I wrote a quick draft with a few dot points of what I wanted to discuss and then…
After many more dot dot dot’s, the date is now the 23rd of February, but it is no longer 2018. It’s not even 2019. Or 2020 for that matter! The decade has passed and it is the 23rd of February, 2021 (well, there have been more dot dot dot’s and it’s become December 2021, but the exact date has now drifted into irrelevance).
It took almost three years to get back to that initial draft and in that time I went from having a fairly naïve mindset for why I was stuck in the mud (2018), to coming to terms with what may have been the cause for this lack of forward motion (2021). Even more unbelievable is that my last actual published post was way back in 2015, meaning there was an additional three years of silence – which leads me to the point of starting that Analysis Paralysis draft in the first place – which obviously never materialised and transformed into a 6+ year disappearance act!
6 years ago (2015) is probably a good point to investigate and would be a much more accurate guess of the beginning of which I alluded to at the beginning of this post. 2015, as well as 2016, is when my feature film Indefinite had its international festival run. Whilst it didn’t get into Cannes, it did get screened at a number of festivals around the world. So on the surface, one could say the cause of said paralysis was possibly something else. However if there’s one thing I do know, it’s that we should read the book, not the cover…
Whilst we were not selected for Festival de Cannes, the festival is still quite important to this story. Cannes was always the first festival I was going to submit to – and that was my first problem. The edit just wasn’t there by the time deadlines were approaching, however not wanting to wait another year to begin the festival run, I submitted with a boat load of naivety on my side. With the benefit of hindsight, of course an unfinished independent film didn’t get accepted, but that ended up setting the precedence for later submissions. Almost every festival I submitted to ended up viewing a different version of the film. Looking back, it is quite obvious that this was a disastrous decision.
Sometime after submitting to Cannes, the editing station I was cutting the film on decided to melt the power supply unit. It was unnerving when I started to smell ‘that burning smell’… terrifying when the computer sparked… and then the screens blacked out… At the time of this event, I had a drive connected which happened to store the most up-to-date project files for the edit, and to put a extremely long story short, I was never able to re-access that drive.
This is where my first disappearance act began. We didn’t get into Cannes and the only project files I had access to were many, many months old – almost at rough cut stages by comparison… I don’t exactly remember how long I was out for – but I couldn’t face the project files I had for some time as the pure shock (of the amount of work and progress I had lost) was unbearable. I guess I was also holding out hope that I would somehow gain access to the drive, but that day never came.
After quite some time, I jumped back into the edit. It was quite debilitating at times and I had a lot of ground to re-cover. I also found myself working differently – I was second guessing myself and kept thinking ‘this isn’t as good as I had it’, which was in stark contrast to the previous workflow of going with my gut and seeing everything fresh. I was replicating, rather then creating. However I got through that stage and to a point where I was happy with what I saw, so I started to submit to a few festivals. Again, I couldn’t wait until I was complete because Indefinite’s festival run had already began – I sensed pressure (self-inflicted) to continue the run as soon as possible as I felt at the time it was best for the film itself.
After two years on the circuit and it’s last festival screening complete, strangely enough, I still didn’t think the film was ‘finished’. I dove deeper and deeper into every crevice the film had, trying to make it ‘perfect’. Of course I was looking for something that simply wasn’t possible, hence the time it took chasing it. This is what I now see as the ‘Cannes curse’, round 2. I found myself seeing new issues with the images and hearing frequencies that I never heard before and by now the train was a out of control. I’d literally entered a dark tunnel and had no idea when the light would reappear.
It was around this time that I was injured playing football and required surgery on my knee. I love the world game and this injury has continued to keep me on the sidelines ever since (and kept my general fitness activity much lower than ever before). Furthermore, sometime after that procedure I have had another one done for a separate ongoing health concern – and without going into details (since this post isn’t about my personal health), suffice to say that these hospital stays haven’t helped my mindset. When it rains, it pours…
Not only has it impacted my disposition, it’s impact on the films completion can easily been seen – it has needed my full undivided attention, however my span has had extreme ebbs and flows, until eventually there were vastly more ebbs… It eventually turned into somewhat of a ‘job’, and one that I didn’t like turning up to at that! It may seem utterly ridiculous and I’m sure that’s what it will sound like, but that’s just how it felt.
How did it come to this? How could the film be both the best and worst creative experience I’ve ever had? I thoroughly loved researching and writing the script. Pre-production was oh-so enjoyable, collaborating with the talent to mold the characters into their skin. Principle photography was also an absolute dream, almost too good to be true. We shot on super 16mm film and nailed it with only 2 rolls/takes per scene. It all went according to plan – it flowed like water. Then came the nightmare… the sort you can’t wake up from – a therapist would call it depression. It took me years to realise – it’s so hard to see when you’re in the midst of it, especially if you’re someone that doesn’t liked being helped and so well versed in keeping it within. But the one I was lying to the most was myself. My monkey mind was literally out of control.
This brings me to philosophy. I’ve long been an avid reader of it, however it tended to be the type which focused on the outside world, not the inner one. Perhaps that’s not entirely true, maybe I’ve just never held the mirror up close enough. I’m not entirely sure – however that has changed. It needed to change. I don’t want this post to become a philosophical meander because it will elongate it more than it already is, I just want to express how important it really is to our wellbeing.
Introspection is possibly one of the greatest tools anyone can have in their bag and without it, we are just being swept away with the tide of the modern age. As alluded to in the title with yinyang, Taoism has played a large part in the search for myself. One concept within the Tao is ‘Pu’, which can be understood as ‘perception without prejudice’. The western world has a fixation with dualistic ideology. The obvious ones are good versus bad, right and wrong or black and white. To a Taoist, there is no such thing and there is only what there is.
The philosopher Albert Camus has also left his mark on me. Camus reflects on Sisyphus, who in Greek mythology was said to be punished for all eternity to roll a boulder up a mountainside – only to have it roll back down to the bottom when he nears it’s summit. Therefore, Sisyphus is damned to struggle in perpetuity without hope of succeeding. How can he ever be happy when he will never reach his goal, or even prevent himself from going insane because of it? I can relate. However (as Camus explains) so long as Sisyphus accepts that there is nothing more to life than this absurd struggle, then and only then can he find happiness in it.
I was well into this discovery by the time coronavirus hit us in 2020, so I wont say it was the catalyst for anything, but it certainly gave me more time to look where I had failed to before. Lockdowns and restrictions of freedom in Australia have become common practice, and with the government’s mandatory vaccinations (in order to work, social options, etc…) to be enforced upon us from the start of 2022, the future is a complete unknown road for many – myself included. It’s up to each individual to deal with this situation in their own way and perceive it as they wish, but for now ill take the time to continue the search.
I don’t think I’m out of the woods just yet – and proof of that is how many times I’ve revisited this post, only to not ‘finish’ it. But life moves forward at the speed of… life, no matter what we do. We are all tiny stars in a infinite universe, so all I can do is make a move and see the reaction. Perhaps this is one of the root causes, hope and expectations… They can be directly linked to what I’ve been through. If I didn’t have them and was simply content with what is, instead of fighting against it, I believe I would be in a much better place then I find myself. Like I said – I have much to learn.
However COVID-19 was responsible for some big delays in the production of the Indefinite DVD. It simply got shut down like the rest of the world – but I’m happy to say that they have finally been produced and I’m trying to figure out how I go about ‘re-releasing’ the film. With the DVD at the ready, a new poster (that was made years ago, but never ‘finished’) and a simple trailer coming soon – I can say that Indefinite won’t get the happy ending I may have once hoped for, but it is more than what once looked possible.