So much of my early life felt nothing like the movie-esque storyline I wanted to exist in. But that all changed in my mid-twenties.
They say every story has three acts. Here’s some of mine.
Childhood was for me, like many others, a process of gaining entry to adulthood. Nothing particularly dramatic happened; there were the expected ups and downs though.
School as an under ten was great, but highschool was tough. Me and my twin brother Dan had our own thing going; both creatives, both already dabbling in music and film. Fitting in with the usual crowd wasn’t really something that mattered — until — it did. I wanted to be liked. I wanted people to accept me.
Something in that tension between wanting to live an authentic original life and yet be likeable, twisted me up a bit in my teenage years, but it also taught me balance. There’s a balance between creating for yourself and creating to connect with others. Striving to be likeable will never help you to produce your best work, but understanding your audience, your peer group, will. That’s the balance I learnt in those years.
Jimmy Eat World frontman, Jim Adkins, sings the words ‘nothing movielike’ on their album ‘Invented’. That about sums-up this time in my life.
The journey out of teenagehood couldn’t have come quicker for me. I’m a driven person and the prison of a classroom started to wear on me after high school. Sixth form came and went and I was ready to do my own thing.
I had a gap year, released an EP with my band, became unemployed for three months, eventually got a job, bought a car and finally asked my long term girlfriend if she would marry me. She said yes.
Things were looking up, plans for the wedding were going well and Dan also got engaged later that year. Real life was just beginning, or so I thought.
Days before his wedding, Dan had a seizure. We thought it was just a virus or something minor. The wedding went ahead without a hitch, a fantastic day of celebration. But on their honeymoon, Dan had another seizure.
In early 2015, we found out that Dan had a brain tumour.
Mine and Mel’s wedding went ahead a few months later, with Dan starting treatment in the weeks preceding. It was bittersweet. But something good was to come from this.
Dan’s dream had been to write and direct a feature film. And so, unphased by his illness, he made it happen. Teaming up with a group of young people and with a micro budget, we created a feature film that tells the story of John, a cantankerous young married man, who after a cancer diagnosis is forced to face the question of life after death.
After over a years work, we released ‘Looking To Eternity’ in November 2016. Dan died two weeks later.
When Sarah and I got together and decided to write this E.P about conversations, nothing felt more like a conversation I’d been having for years than this; how do you make it in life? In essence, how do we get to Hollywood.
It’s been the motivation to many dreams and ambitions, successes and failures and yet the closer you feel you get to it, the further it seems. This song is a conversation with myself, an ongoing dilemma of how to make the most of life and let life make the most of you.
The realisation I’ve come to is this — life is life. You can’t fight it, but you can embrace it. You can chase it down as hard as you like, sometimes the dream will still elude you and sometimes it just falls in your lap. It becomes the movie script when you least expect it and every so often tears it up, so you can start all over again.
Forest Gump was right. You never know what you’re gonna get. But there’s a difference between letting that cripple you and letting the ambiguity and heartache and peril and stress, become your anthem. Be your own scene, make life happen and the story — your story — will play out with beauty and colour and purpose and hope. Really, what more can we ask for out of this existence — than to exist with a reason.
So, what about Act Three? Well that’s up to you and it’s up to me. Act Three can start today if you like or maybe you’ve still got the first two to finish. Either way we all have one.
You can download or stream ‘Hollywood’ on our new E.P. ‘Conversations Around The Family Table’ from your favourite site. Here’s some quick links:
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