There was a point in my life recently where I found myself spending the night on a friend’s couch. I was homeless, unsure of my next move, so I was going to house sit for the weekend while he and his friends went camping. His brother was going to be picking him up early the next morning.
When his brother arrived and saw me on the couch, wrapped in my queen-sized duvet complete with red velvet eye pillow strapped to my head, he asked, “What are you doing here?” My immediate response was, “I ask myself that question every day.”
I wondered how I had managed to find myself in the predicament I was in… lost, confused, and totally fed up. I had just come from living in a little cabin on the water. It was a three-month rental and I hadn’t found a suitable replacement. I wasn’t even sure Victoria was where I wanted to be. So, I was living out of a friend’s pick up truck until I could figure it out.
I literally spent hours in that truck, just sitting. I’d change locations from time to time, Beacon Hill Park, Dallas Road, Clover Point, Willows Beach, random streets in James Bay, but I’d usually find myself at the park after driving around aimlessly for a little while. I felt a bit like I was on drugs. Unable to make any clear decisions; paralyzed; only moving when it was absolutely necessary.
This is a far cry from my filmmaking days, days when I was always on the move. One member of the band The Fugitives even commented and asked, “Do you ever stop?” as I beatled from one venue to the next, camera gear in tow. At that point, I had barely stopped to breathe for nearly three months as I ran around with a video camera, working to capture the various arts events happening around town for a documentary I was filming.
This last event I filmed was The Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. The Fugitives, who I had met a few years before at an arts conference, were there performing, as was a past member of theirs, C.R. Avery. C.R. was one of the Poets of Honour that year. I met up with him again shortly after the festival, to film another of his performances. I had a vision of how I could incorporate his work into my documentary.
This was in Victoria, back in 2009. Flash forward four years and I find myself at a poetry event in Toronto, sitting next to C.R. and his cousin, who I had a laugh with when I said, “Just wait, I bet you C.R. will ask me when we’re going to cut that video together.” Whether he had heard me or not, C.R. did ask the question. But that’s not why I had shot the footage, and the amount of time, effort, and resources required to put it all together just wasn’t in the cards for me at that point.
I had, in fact, attended the 2010 Victoria Film Festival Industry Series to pitch my ideas, but it was at a time when funding for documentaries was nearly non-existent, when broadcasters were moving towards using only their in-house producers, and only well- established filmmakers were being considered.
So, life took me in a different direction.
In fact, I had become so inspired at the Spoken Word Festival that, within a week of filming it, I put a proposal together and applied for the program at the Banff Centre for the Arts. And, much to my surprise, I got accepted.
In addition to this, I met a wonderful actress and now friend at that Film Festival. Through this friendship and my time at the Banff Centre, I came to see that all of that filming had simply been a part of my process. One thing had led to another which ultimately led me back to my first passion – writing.
So, how did I get here? Through a lot of exploration, many failed attempts, a little bit of help from my friends, and the understanding that sometimes what we set out to do isn’t going to be the end result – that it’s all about the process, the journey, and leaving ourselves open to whatever might come next.
And C.R., if you’re out there reading this, we will watch that footage one day… just as you said…
For more info about C.R. Avery – go to http://www.cravery.com
For more info about The Fugitives – go to http://www.fugitives.ca/