I have always believed in Following Your Dreams.
I always wanted to work in documentary, to make films that might give someone a voice or might ‘make a difference’. I have always tried to pursue projects that meant something to me, that I somehow ‘believed in’ or was passionate about.
I have been lucky enough to produce work with organisations like Plan International, University College London and the London Museums group. I have learned about story-telling and narrative and how to use imagery. I have met and interviewed some incredible people including one of the oldest Liverpool fans in Britain, 100 year old Mavis Wright. I’ve watched Akala telling students about powerful African nations that have been omitted from the history books and I have learnt how to bring historical events alive through film.
Starting out, I worked as an intern at Greenpeace. I was given the job of dogsbody and set to work on their ‘media library’. Before all the world’s media went digital, we had VHS and something called Betacam.
My job was to go through all the betacam tapes in their vast media library and ‘log’ the information on each. Tape after tape, it was a labourious process. I got used to seeing Greenpeace activists dangling from Japanese whaling vessels or climbing aboard timber cargo ships to install huge banners. My boss was Greenpeace’s video guy. One day I saw him work on an Avid editing suite and he showed me his edit timeline, it was a fast paced montage of all of Greenpeace’s campaigns from that year put together with some music and humour. I loved it. And all I could think was, if only I could do that.
There have been opportunities to go into a career with the BBC, work in radio or within large production companies. All of them are brilliant avenues for career paths I may have taken and possibly should have taken but somehow I didn’t and somehow I just ended up ‘doing my own thing’. I believe a lot of this has to do with being stubborn and wanting to resist any kind of ‘rule’ or authority. When you are in charge of your own project, you are making all the decisions and you have the creative control. There is an immense personal satisfaction and freedom in that which is just very hard to trade-in. I have learnt to get by on less money and less security and have adapted along the way.
Choosing to do this has not been easy. In fact it has been pretty painful at times. I have become critical towards chasing a ‘dream career’ and suspicious of this concept of a ‘calling’. I believe we make choices and those choices dictate where we end up. I often doubt myself. In the past I have found myself enviously looking at my sisters and their more stable career choices and seriously questioned my judgement. Nevertheless I strive to listen to my gut feelings, put aside my fears and continue doing what I do, working hard on each project and believing in it. Being passionate is key.
It is not always easy or possible to ‘follow your dreams’. But if there is something you enjoy or dream of doing and you are good at it, you should try to pursue it. Start somewhere and if you find that you are actively enjoying the process, persevere. It may lead you in an entirely different direction to what you had imagined, or it may even open a door that was previously closed. Don’t feel restricted by what society or even (your family!) says you ‘should’ be doing, or even what you think you ‘should’ be doing. Challenge yourself and remain open to possibilities. You will not regret it.