Sunday, 2 March 2014

Oscar's back

For as long as I can remember the Oscars was something of a magical evening. Trying to make up excuses to stay up late, from watching the red carpet coverage of these ordinary people you had watched bring fantastical characters to life over the year to the spectacle of the show and of course the speeches... 

But most of all it was like a night full of watching peoples' dreams come true. A reminder that if all of them could, then why not?

I was a self proclaimed book worm early on, and watching stories unfold on-screen was like the extension of that. If well made, these films and television shows allowed you to get lost in stories and attached to characters that ranged from so realistic you could easily identify your own experiences to the most imaginative fantasy worlds or action packed adventures. 

Whatever your taste there was usually a category to fit. And it all begun with people like those that gathered up in what used to be the Kodak (now Dolby) theatre every year. Writers, directors, producers, actors, studio representatives... And of course beyond that everyone else that makes this world possible. The crew, from the runners to the DoP's, the CGI specialist and editors, the production secretaries to the Commissioners that green-light it. 

This whole range of people offering any number of dream-team-positions in the chain from idea to final on-screen product. 

When I started thinking about actually taking a more serious step towards the industry I had already clocked too many hours to count in front of the TV, reading scripts, reading books turned into movies, writing my own, making terrible short films with friends (which quickly taught me I would never find a career in the camera department). The opportunities were limitless if I somehow managed to keep the passion flame alive through the hard realities of ladder climbing, media politics and networking events where the distance between having a foot in the door and actual creative sway on a serious project can, at the start, seem unfathomably big. 

I have been in the industry for over six years now. Somehow, through the ups and downs, I have been lucky enough to experience some incredible opportunities. Equally, keeping true to your goals and wants can be hard. Everything from stable pay cheques to getting the right names on your CV affects people's decisions enormously. There is a lot of 'this is how it works therefore how it has to be done' about it all, for example jumping past certain positions in the chain of command can by some be a completely foreign prospect whilst others genuinely encourage it. 

Competition is fierce, and in particular if you decide to work in production the recruitment process can be a roller coaster full of gossip behind the scenes. It may not be small enough for everyone to know each other but this industry is a bit of an incestuous mess in some places, for better and worse, meaning take care and make the effort with whoever you meet along the way. You never know when someone who is interviewing you will have coffee with that 'whoever' and ask a question. You want the answer to sway in your favour. Then again, and perhaps most important of all lessons, do not under any circumstances let the politics or the 'should be:s' or hard bargains make you give up your moral compass or forget who you are and what fuelled your passion to begin with. 

Media isn't a fantasy land. It's a mix of long hours, stressed out people (production), lots of money on one end and none in the other, creative compromise that can be incredibly frustrating and much more. But there is still magic there. 

Because guess what, this industry brought us gems like American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave this year. Frozen brought adults and kids alike back to the cinema to enjoy feeling like anything is possible again. Wolf of Wall Street reminded us of the dangers of greed and let us watch some incredible performances by Leo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey and many more. It turned Barkad Abdi from limo driver to an Oscar nominee for his role as a Somali pirate in Captain Phillips against Tom Hanks. And those are just some of the big names from the year... Let's not forget all the indie productions that got air time, Netflix turning the entire series presentation on its head (more House of Cards, all at ONCE?!), the scripts that had been dusting up for years but finally got green lit, or those who brought enough attention to an unknown writer to get that lucky guy or gal an agent (score big time!). And what about the PA who got their first runner job on a TV show, and felt that awe of stepping on set for the very first time. 

It's a tough business, but whenever you're starting to doubt or those dreams of yours are starting to seem as unlikely as when you begun take a seat back and re-discover what it's capable of. Re-watch your favourite movie for the hundreth time. Get lost in a show you haven't seen for years or catch up on a new favourite. Discover a new little known title or soak up the atmosphere at your local cinema. 

Or, you know, tune in to the Oscars tonight. A little reminder that a lot of those guys that will walk the podium tonight started out just like us. Ordinary people with big dreams, a heavy dose of stubborn and a heartfelt passion for something special that kept them going. 

Who knows, maybe one day that'll be you. Or maybe one day you'll play a part in the domino effect that gets one of those stories told, whatever the genre, size of the budget or names attached to it. Follow your dreams, enjoy it even in the low moments and stay true to yourself. 

Oh and stock up on the popcorn and let Ellen take it away! 


No comments:

Post a Comment