According to the narrative of this digital account, I’ve been inactive for nearly a month. Of course the exact opposite is true. In fact, isn’t it odd that a regular flow of posts are updated when everyday life consists of getting a flat tire while riding a bike to the grocery store. However, when things actually become interesting, the online periodical lies in ruin (allowing readers to wander elsewhere in search of more stimulating material). Perhaps by now some have found the words of Michael Smith to be fantastic reading. http://jordancrossings.blogspot.com.au/
On with the story.
If I were asked to return to the US and give a talk about my experience in the last few months it might be titled Life Outside of the Box, and other short stories of getting figuratively rained on because you’re not inside the box where you should be. Long title, I know. By the first few sentences I would have lost my audience, no doubt. So its probably to my advantage that I haven’t been asked to give an account of my time here.
I was on the bus the other day (a statement that could begin my retelling of any day of the last 9 months) and I noticed a very peculiar couple sitting across the aisle from me. There were so many details about them that stood out to me; the specific areas of the woman’s sweater that had holes run in them, the Reebok’s that looked as though they’d fought with pavement every decade since the 70s, and the nearly bullet proof-thick glasses that each of them wore. They held a bundle of bags bursting with food between the two of them. Most were plastic. Two were cloth; they read in bold type, “Be Plastic Bag Free.” Details, all of them revealing themselves to me in order and all of them subject to the deep orange blast from the sun as it died below the horizon, flashing through gum trees as the bus made its way towards Sydney’s CBD. It was a moment, like so many, that I had a desire to capture.
I didn’t have a camera with me, not even my 2 megapixel cell phone camera. I didn’t even have a notepad to write anything down. I would walk right off this bus and there would be no evidence of me having been there. That short scene would continue on with only an audience of one.
And it clicked for me.
Even now, I am being a storyteller. I am doing what an artist does. I don’t simply engage with the world, I stop and notice it, take it in, measure it. My identity as an artist doesn’t lie in the elements I have at my disposal. My success as a creative type isn’t informed by the “cool gadgets I get to play with” (I certainly hope not, ’cause I am sorely under resourced). This has helped inform how I move forward in the project that currently has my attention.
As the film is in its early stages, I have no desire to give away details or juststraightupoverpromise. I am telling the story of education. An institution that could be, wants to be, should be, but simply finds itself at odds with its own ideology. A journey embarked upon, a quest undertaken, and a commitment not for the weak-in-constitution.
As I follow a story, so I write one. What does it look like to create an experience, tell a story, inform, challenge, inspire an audience that has far more credentials than myself. How do I inspire awe in viewers who could (and probably have) give me a lecture about anything learned. They aren’t questions. They’re challenges, they are doors ahead. No choice but to walk through them.
Added layers: how do I accomplish this with a budget less than the dollars in my piggy bank (AUD). How does this get accomplished without a team of fellow filmmakers all taking on their specific role. And all of these facts in a country where I don’t have the benefit of calling in a favor from “that friend who has a grip truck” (don’t you just love those). I get the sense that this isn’t the correct way to do things. As I go forward I am certainly feeling the absence of the box. But I suppose this is often how I go about things.
So with an NTSC camera in a PAL world, and some pocket change for a budget, I’m going forward.
I’m making connections, finding friends, robbing banks (just jokes), and kicking it into gear.
After all, what else can we do but to truly enjoy our toil?