Life is all about stories. Everything we are is about a story. The bible is full of stories. Stories are what make the world go round. We are a collection of memories. Our lives are about experiences and reflections. Each one is another story. I love a good story, and I enjoy storytelling.
Storytelling in the professional sense is a hard gig. If your livelihood is about storytelling then I can empathize. Not an easy path to take in life. I am not a professional writer, but when I listen to my friends who are, man, it is not an easy path. Expression is a beautiful thing and to write is soulful, but if you write for a living, that is not easy work.
I am always writing stuff down. Ideas, experiences, lessons, funny situations, anecdotes, wisdom … I love capturing inspired thoughts. When I am with interesting people and someone shares a nugget I have to write it down. This year has been a particular busy year in the story department. I even have a war story in my collection. Not something I would wish on anyone. No one thought that after 2020 and 2021 that things could get any crazier but if you were living in Ukraine then 2022 is a story like none other.
The thing about the storytelling business is that it is very hit and miss. I have some experience in book publishing and a lot of experience with indie film making. When you create an independent full length film you are highly vulnerable, emotionally and financially. You work and work and work and it all boils down to about 90 minutes of story that once finished, well, that is it. There is no going back. This is very different to other businesses where you may have a good month or a bad month. If you run a restaurant, for example, and business is slow you can always try different things, like creative marketing, new menus, etc. But if you make a film and no one wants to see it, well, then, all you can do is try again one day with another project. Not easy on the soul, or the wallet. Most indie films stay on the shelf. That is the nature of the visual storytelling industry. Very few successful projects. Lots and lots of pain and dreams gone wrong. But when it does work it can be magical.
I am working with a small team on a documentary film project called “57” which asks the question: Why is the crime in South Africa so violent? Not an easy subject to discuss and it was a first time documentary for all of us involved and we have had many painful lessons. In the past few months in particular our character has been tested in a big way. So many curve balls, so few nights of any sleep. We have to deliver to the broadcaster at the end of this month so one way or the other this project is coming to a close. Almost 3 years of rollercoaster work and then, just like that, it is all over. This is a fundamental thing that is different about storytelling work. When the project is done, all that remains is the next project. If we are brave enough to try again.
I am confident to say that “57” has turned out rock solid. It is a compelling and powerful story and it will get people thinking and hopefully taking positive action. What a journey it has been. We are almost at the end. We could probably tell an entertaining and interesting story about how this film got made. Maybe one day.
Wow, I am 55 today and next week I travel to Ukraine … but that is another story for another day.