I was a guest speaker at my old college today, Ballyfermot College of Further Education (or Senior College as it was known back in the day). I was an animation student, graduated in 2000. So I was asked to come in and talk to the same class, as it is now. I was delighted, if not a little apprehensive, to do so - just because I get nervous before these things, also because I almost flunked out of that college and because I didn't pursue animation afterward. So I was trying to find an angle to approach the talk from. I decided honesty was the best policy.
I wanted to give them a very real look at what it's like to be an independent filmmaker working outside the system, outside the industry. So I did. I'm a bit worried I may have depressed them!
I tried to be constructive, offer hints and tips, advice and direction and tell them how to go about putting a film together, without backing. But amid the constructive were the harsh realities, the lack of income, the toll on personal life, family and finances and the sacrifices required to pursue a creative life, a life where you're a working artist. It's not an easy one. It's not glamorous in the least. It's bloody hard work. It's pressure. Stress. And when you find yourself clasping you chest with pain walking up a hill and find yourself strapped to a heart monitor later that same day... can be questionable!
(For the record I didn't have a heart attack, it was anxiety from lots of different things going on at that time!)
I talked about everything I could get to in two hours. I admit I did find myself rambling at times. Going off script and losing my notes. But going back over them on the way home I found I hit most of the points I had hoped too. Also managed to show my 3 shorts and the first cut scene from Derelict (so bit of an exclusive there for them! - No one else is allowed to see it, so don't ask.)
I think I'm better at answering questions then just straight talking. I'm good in Q&As. But when I have to stand in front of a room and just talk I tend to ramble and lose my place! Hopefully I wasn't too bad today. Gareth Lee, the course co-ordinator who invited me to talk, said to me afterwards that he felt it was a dose of reality for them and probably not a bad thing!
I agree with that in one sense, I think it's good to see the real side of things, but I also like to be inspired and to inspire. I always remember Glenn Keane's lectures when I attended the school, I would come out of the class flying, zooming, buzzed and fueled for weeks to come. I don't feel like I did that, in fact, I know I didn't, so I'm a little disappointed. When I listen to my favourite directors speak I'm always inspired, and even when they tell the harsh realities of there life, I'm still inspired... I guess though it's because they're in a better place, they've made it, they are where they want to be.
I'm not there yet, I'm still on the outside, still struggling. So hopefully that will change soon. Hopefully I'll be able to go back in a few years and inspire, rather then frighten!