Are you in control of your narrative?
Hey there Medium universe! It’s Courtney J touching base once again.. It’s been a while since I last wrote to you. Recently I’ve felt like I’ve been losing a little control of my narrative. The “Pay the Bills” work has taken over my life the past few months due to financial opportunities I couldn’t turn down. Don’t get me wrong — I appreciate the extra cash but it can have its drawbacks. The money is always nice but it doesn’t feed your soul the way a creative person requires to keep that passion fire burning. My creativity train was running on all cylinders at the beginning of the spring and my dedication to writing on a regular basis was in full gear. The problem is when you work on a production team in the film and television industry, the hours can get long and it’s very easy to get into a routine that is very structured (go to set, eat, sleep, repeat). The next thing you know 6 months have gone by and you’re still at square one with an epic idea you’ve been wanting to develop.
The balance is very tricky and because there is no clear path to success in my industry, you start letting other people’s work dictate your narrative.
When I’m not producing, writing, and directing my own projects, I work as a “Stand In” on Hollywood productions. What I’ve always loved about stand in work is I get a bird’s eye view of the action and when you get to experience talent come together and make some magic for the big screen, it’s very educational and rewarding. I love my job but it’s not my end goal in this business. I want to be where they are, on the other side of the glass wall directing and producing big studio projects.
Over the last few months the film and television industry in Toronto has been insanely busy with our cheap dollar and tax incentives. Toronto is truly a film making town and this is going to be one of the biggest years yet. That being said… my phone has not stopped ringing and if I wanted to I could work 7 days a week standing in and doing set work. I don’t take it for granted but the routine becomes addictive financially, and you start to lose sight of your real goals. On top of all this you also need to make time for family and with all this work happening and having an unpredictable work situation the balance is hard to maintain. There are so many people that work crew in the film and television industry that are divorced a couple times over because of the whacky hours and the lack of balance. The irony after is these crew members have to then work more hours to pay alimony because of our work life style. This is a common sad story I hear on set and it reminds me that I need to stay balanced with the things in my life that mean something.
The project that I’m currently working on is a period piece based on the classic Margaret Atwood novel ‘Alias Grace’. This miniseries adaptation is for Netflix and CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corporation). This six-part series is written and produced by the talented Sarah Polley and stars rising star Sarah Gadon, academy award winner Anna Paquin, Zachery Levi, Paul Gross, and directed by Mary Harron (American Psycho). We are at day 12 of the production and I’m really liking what I’m seeing. This is going to be an emotionally intense series. This infamous true story in Canadian history tells the tale of murder, revenge, and the human condition in the late 1800s… I’m very happy to be a part of this team and to tell you the truth it’s inspiring me to stay on course. My only issue right now is it’s a three-month commitment so I need to re-examine my methods to balance everything because my window just got smaller (Lol). The grind of the long hours over the last two weeks reminds me it’s very hard to put the time in to everything. It’s taking a toll on my creative juices but I need to push through it. Finding that time for yourself is key and this week I started working late, getting up earlier, and taking a hit on the sleep to work on my projects. It’s been tough but rewarding. I’m usually only getting an hour to work on my material away from set and I’ve been chipping away at some ideas. This new routine is something I’m trying to embrace… I’m not going to lie… it’s tough to stay motivated to stay up those extra hours writing after work but no one is going to do it for you. You are the only person that can create your narrative and that’s why I’m writing this blog today. Life provides opportunities but if you’re not engaged when this happens, then you usually miss out. This is my love hate relationship with ‘Standing In’ right now… The physical engagement of watching a film or a show come to life can be amazing but it also has moments of heartbreak for me because I feel like I’m watching ‘my dream’ of writing and directing a big production unfold with no clue when my chance will come…
Film has been my passion since childhood and I’m fortunate that I have something that excites me because I know it’s not always the case for people. I felt I needed to remind myself and others by writing this blog entry today because sometimes we need that. I’m happy that I feel something inside me stir once more. Stepping back from a situation and just writing about it has been therapeutic for me… I’m excited to write more blogs over the next few weeks, find time to edit season two of my web series on the weekends, and if time permits while I work full time on this mini series, squeeze in some small concept videos I enjoy to make… Check out this commercial campaign I came up with this month to compliment this BLOG…
This journey I’m on continues to evolve and I’m ready to start another chapter of my narrative. I hope you can join me… Until next time.