In the grand scheme of things…

Well, the last 12 months has been an eye opener of familial life, career, bullying, patterns of life, responsibilities and all the past memories or experiences I have gone through and still go through.

There are some memories I cannot wipe away but manage them on a day to day, month to month basis. Some memories like tonight, where I look at the clock at 12:20am and remember on this New Year’s Eve like every other for the last six years; you are no longer in my life. I cannot celebrate another year with you, go shopping with you, tell you about all the exciting moments in my life or share the partner in my life with you. We are no longer a family unit because the glue that held us together is no longer there.

We may have argued, hurt one another, spoken harsh words but isn’t that what everyone goes through, isn’t that normal? All those memories where I rebelled against your beliefs and wisdom of experience. When I thought I was right and you were wrong, when everything you had been through in life was for our/my benefit, but I couldn’t see through that as a child as a teenager and sometimes as an adult.

I remember many things like your red lipstick, your smile, your infectious laughter. I remember the brightly coloured clothes you wore. I remember you always wore skirts and dresses and dressed well even going shopping. I remember your colourful head scarfs and your Harrods bag that you took with you to work. The tea I would make for you in your flask, the cakes you bought home at 4pm from work as you loved afternoon tea. The family get-togethers at Christmas for afternoon tea at Harrods, it became traditional in our house. Chicken Biriyani, my favourite meal. The birthday parties and the mean cocktail punches everyone got drunk on. The people whose lives you touched and whom loved you dearly. You had a big, generous heart where you gave without a thought to yourself and you welcomed everyone in. I hope this is where my qualities come from, a part of you.

In the grand scheme of things, I suddenly realised “why am I sweating the small stuff, because it’s all small stuff?”. Why have I not lived life to full capacity and how did I become so constrained with how I navigated it. I vowed to myself, I would live each moment with fun, love and an open heart! If situations hurt or pained me then this journey of life is where I need to grow, develop, evolve and I will never stop any of those things. In the grand scheme of things, I’m alive and have every moment to create and be happy in and only I can choose that for my path. So, onwards to the next chapter of life and wherever you are, I love you Mum. You will always be in my heart and soul.

Me, Myself and I

There are many moments where inspiration comes to me and usually it’s when I turn the lights off and my head hits the pillow. I always think to myself I will remember this in the morning and then when morning comes I am usually thinking about 101 things for that day.

So, tonight I decided to switch the alarm to a later time and forgo the morning gym session to write this blog. I have recently watched some really inspiring Ted talks, have recently had some great friendship talks and some general talking to myself; and all about the “self”.

I often think of myself as the person I have become, but the person I have become is the many “selfs” I have grown up with, and I ask “am I my true self” at this very moment. To simplify, am I being the true honest “me” in every given moment. Am I present to each moment, to people and the situation. If I’m totally honest, the answer is “no”. And that’s not because I am bored or lose interest quickly it is because my mind is so active and constantly distracted by the noise. My definition of “noise” is “work, the internet, music, family, personal life” and so on. My mind is multi-tasking layers that I am finding physically tired and I am not allowing the rest and recuperation that I would allow for my body to go through after a physically intensive day say at the gym or other. Least we not forget that “I” can also be the “ego self”, that negative self that can destroy internal/external processes, that can sometimes be the loudest noise or have the strongest voice depending on how much air time, I will allow it.

I digress, so back to the “self” and the many “selfs” I can be in one day is surprising. A part of my self is a “work” self, conforming to the policies and regulations of my work place practice, the behaviour on display in order to be respected.

My “friendly” self when out and about shopping, asking people how they are before I buy or order something. It’s amazing how people are taken aback by this simple inquiry of interaction. A genuine inquiry of someone else’s “self” and checking in on how they are doing? Just that brief communication allows people to break from the pace of their “work self” and in that moment I glance the real them. For them it’s a moment to ‘be’, to understand someone else recognises the masquerade of enforced customer service; for that split second it’s okay to be human and say “I’m really tired” or “it’s non-stop busy”. And out of this I have received some of the best smiles and customer service because I had a connection and could recognise in them my own “self” experience.

As an actress, I become lots of other “selves”, I connect or identify with these characters as there is something within me that reflects a part of that character. Not so definable or whole but fragments of “me, myself and I”. These range of emotions are a range of myself and how do I contend with these when the role has finished. How do I put to bed that “self” that I have identified with and is awake back to sleep. Sometimes we play parts that we find “challenging”, in order to face that part of ourselves that we try to contain, keep dormant or see where it goes. There is a part of ourselves that we do not necessarily wish to unlock or deal with in our own lives but we can explore on an ‘imaginary’ level so we attempt to put ourselves in this position to see what will happen. Deep down we often know what the outcome would be but secretly we’d like to know if we could handle, cope or fall apart in the “imaginary” world. Only there will it be contained and safe because we can walk away and sometimes we can’t run away from our truth (not saying this is always the case).

And then there is the “partner” self, this often is the area where you end up exposing yourself the most but also questioning yourself the most. It’s the most vulnerable you will be as you learn to trust, open up and discuss parts of you that you don’t even like. But also confidently highlight the parts of yourself that are lovable, sexy, and ultimately can make that person and anyone fall in love with you. This self is is the ultimate high and can be the ultimate low, because our emotions are so connected with each moment, so raw in our true selves and no hold bars. But how do we hang onto ourself in the lows as much as the highs, we can’t, without disconnecting to our “self” and our feelings.

“Me” is my belief in, my identity of who I am, “this is me, take it or leave it”. Is it? If I don’t actually know who “me” is, how will other people? Yes, when they look at “me”, they can make assumptions of my ethnicity, age, sex. And when I open my mouth, they will judge, assess, like or love me for what I say and will form an opinion from my words, beliefs, attitudes and values. But is that the real “me” or another “self” of “me”? There are many sides to me but they are all still me, do I need to know where my ancestors are from to really understand myself? Will people not know the real “me” from growing up with me, spending time with me, or is it me that needs to spend time with me to truly understand who I am. Who I am is formed by my familial ever changing sociological and environmental surroundings. How I see myself has come from friends, marketing and printed material. All of these affect and effect my internal and external “self/selves” and ultimately will decide who I am or who I will allow me to be.

Who am “I”? A question, I will never stop asking myself. Even if I had all the possible answers that life could offer, even if I had my ancestral heritage in front of me; this would still not explain who am I. It would offer me suggestions of where I am from and the journey to now. I and my many “selves” will evolve, adapt, change because they are all a part of me. I am no longer a child who questions the world but an adult who understands more about the context that I live in yet I have much to learn, to discover in the world. I am aware that “I” have to love “me”, every part of me, every cell inside and out and that is part of the journey. But one where I learn more about acceptance rather than dismissal, where I understand the difference between ego and my true voice. One about inner strength and resilience instead of returning to patterns of vulnerability and the past. I will feel and own my true self in situations, and with the people around me or whom I surround myself with. And when I hear my true self I find I am at one with “me, myself and I”; I feel connected to the universe like my whole being is aligned in that moment. And that feeling of enlightenment is awesome, that is the most creative, the most exciting time and the time when I know who “I” am.

A Producers observations to Directors and vice versa…

Advice to Directors

I’ve worked with a lot of Directors either as an Actress, First AD or Producer and I’m not saying this is the “be all and end all”. It’s just a little advice from my experiences.

A lot of the time, the filmmakers are the Writer/Director of their own project and because of this, find it frustrating that they cannot find a “good” Producer. I have asked myself why, and there is no right and wrong or blame here. “Good” Producers are difficult to find and “Great Producers” are rare. Again, this is due to a number of reasons, Producers are also writers, would be directors, actors etc. They all wish to be paid for the enormous amount of time and investment they are going to undertake. Without payment, it can feel like a burden rather than one of the best journeys ever! But also just because someone says they “produce”, it doesn’t mean they can..

Many Producers collaborate on Projects as each are skilled in different areas. But these are not only business colleagues, they are people who have become friends and realise their own potential. If you’re “good” and better still “great”, who wouldn’t want to be paid for their time. Your time is valuable and if you are going to invest in it for free, little money or hundreds then you have to know your own self worth and the projects worth.

I find some Directors expect miracles for their short films and attempting to tell a Director that he/she needs to have a ‘shot list’ should be the First AD’s job. But wait a minute, there is no First AD and you realise you have not only been recruited as a Producer but you are now the First AD or Make-up Artist and Runner. Nothing wrong with those jobs and I guess as a Producer your wish is to see the Director create their dream. On the point about having a ‘shot list’, make sure you have one and stick to it. It’s all very well in your head, but on a feature, the adage ‘time is money’ comes to mind. You also set structures in place for yourself and your team, don’t forget that you working are with tomorrow’s cast and crew and the last thing you want to be known as was some “wishes washy Director, who could not make decisions”. 

If the Director wants to shoots a bold shot that involves some fancy camera work and movement, you will either find that Director can adapt to the environment and find the shot within the capabilities of the location or equipment. If not, then “close that idea down”. It will not only waste time and create frustration on set but it will add to the number of hours you are already working on the project. External locations can be cold or wet, the priority is heat and hot food/drinks. If you are not keeping your cast and crew happy, you will only create resentment, lack of focus and an unhappy set.

A Director who has a ‘great’ First AD, will work to make sure the hours of the day are kept to and the breaks are upheld. I know going to the toilet is a basic human right but the amount of sets I have worked on in front and behind the scenes where you work through for 4/5 hours non-stop. Make sure you allow for comfort breaks and whatever the weather, make sure there is ‘hot’ drinks, heaters, big warm coats on set. I cannot emphasise this enough, get a Runner on set to keep your cast and crew fed and watered. As an Actress, I can see  people flagging, in need of a break or so  cold they can’t focus. Why do this to your cast and crew? If you care about your project then you need to care about the people who are helping create that dream.

A ‘great” Director will be fun, open minded and keep the cast and crew positive and driven. A really difficult thing to do whilst focussing on the film, again it’s only a short. Remember to treat everyone with importance and give every person your time. The smallest gesture of shaking hands and acknowledging everyone you work with including the extras will make a difference to how they feel about your project and what possibilities will be done on set.

Once the film goes into post, the Producer will be thinking of festivals to submit the film to and making connections for the Director. They will be wrapping up any finances that need to be paid and budgets will be finalised. In the short film world, the film becomes the Director’s film and  he/she will look into the festival circuit to see where their short film with suit. They will also look for a venue for the premiere cast and crew screening and some social media with the Director unless there is a designated person for this.

For me as a Producer, I want my job to end when I see that film screened at  festivals. I think the difference between saying you “are” a Producer and “being” a Producer is ‘honesty and action’. Being honest with what your capabilities are from the beginning at least tells the Director that you are interested but have limitations. Secondly, go the extra mile to think outside the box with ideas and promoting the film. You need to create that buzz, that build up, that something special but find what works for that film. Don’t forget the Producer will have connections to people you might not, it’s worth getting them creatively involved.  I love to read the script and suggest ideas to the Writer/Director and most people are open to this. Lastly, I hope that I will work with that Director again, not only will it be the start of a “great” friendship but the journey to the red carpet.

Facebook – Friend or Foe? Love it or hate it?

When I first started writing these blogs, I thought it would be about Producing and the pros’ and cons of what to do in the business. Now, I find myself being analytical with the world (not that I wasn’t before) but self critical (in a good way, I hope) and contemplative about all sorts of topics, subjects etc. Blogs, like anything on the internet is out there forever and is this my legacy of thoughts (or impact) on the world, to remain for others to see?

So, Facebook love it, hate it, is it a great form of communication or is it a persona of a part of our egos we create? Is it a great marketing tool for business or can it be the soapbox of political righteousness we have been reading recently. Whatever, it is a source of information almost quicker than google search, companies, articles, interests all lie within these pages that have been created. Ah, so Facebook is about knowledge, never thought I would have that perspective on it.

I have now logged myself out of my FB app on my Iphone and on my computer to see how the next two weeks of my life will feel without it. Why, you may ask? December is a tricky month of remembering passed loved ones and broken relationships. (no sympathy required here) so I’m looking to quiet my mind with less communication and more self reflection. I have to admit I am already having withdrawal symptoms of “What am I missing?”, what is the latest gossip with my friends” am I missing any Birthday/Christmas invites blah blah blah. Unlike Twitter, Facebook stores your notifications (by those witty, political  and annoying friends you chose to follow) that allow you to catch up days later. (Two weeks to wait).

But what about all those people who are not on Facebook, are they missing out? They do not subscribe to the alter ego of our selfies and amazing nights out saying “Look at me and how much fun I am having”. They do not secretly view the ex’s/current partner’s profile or look to see if they are liking some other hot persons pictures or comments. All this does is enhance the insecurities that were created by someone else. It does not reflect the reality overall but only what is happening in that particular moment.

I hear the fear, the negative perspective about Facebook as it can be destructive not necessarily directional from others but from yourself, what you create and want people to see or read about who you are as a person. It can show you to be a confident, outgoing, a socially engaging individual but you can also portray yourself as a complete idiot. And as with anything people will gather opinions about you, have a perspective from what you say and reading between the lines people will also gather how lonely and/or sad you are. (Sad as in feeling low). Misconceptions are difficult to alter once out there and again people are more likely to remember the negative rather than the good.

So, is this self reflection good? Will I obtain my information through google now? Do I love Facebook or hate it? Both to be honest. Is it my friend or foe? Well, I miss many of my close friends and I can see how they are doing. Will I feel the same in two weeks, when I sign back in? I’ll let you know (If I last two weeks).