Thursday, September 18, 2014

Manifest Destiny Time!

I've been meaning write a blog for a while now, seldom have time these days between the job and the kids (currently running around having tantrums behind me... I may not get to finish this right now) but I shall try today. Lot on my mind these days too. Life's journey has taken some curious turns of late. I'm not really sure what the next step will bring. Tomorrow I go back to work for my final 4 days. I put in my notice last week. Finally. Once finished we pack up the car and drive across the country to our new home in Seattle. 


We had been thinking about moving for several months, researching town and city after town and city, until we finally arrived at Seattle, and it just struck a chord with us, so we decided to go for it. It's a huge leap of faith, I've never been there, Maryann (my wife) has only been there once and as a child. We don't have much money, about enough to get us there, we have no jobs to go to and no place of our own. We'll be staying with friends until we get set up. I never really wanted to be in this situation, or to put our family on someone like this, you know, arrive in someone's home, two adults, two wild kids and a dog. But this is our window of opportunity, a chance to make a change and break free of the last year, and it's only because of the generosity of these people that we can do it. So we're doing it.

All trepidation aside, it feels exciting, like we're moving on to something better. I think this is how it should have felt when we left Ireland. But that was such an emotional wrench, there was nothing exciting about it. Then we landed here in Indianapolis, and pretty soon it started to shape up be to like nothing what we wanted, and that's how the year went. It was a struggle, we felt isolated, we were depressed, frustrated, lonely, homesick. Then came hardest Winter I've ever been through (The hardest Winter on record in Indiana, just incase you think I'm being soft!). We had trouble with medical insurance. We fought more than we had in the previous 6 years. There was fear, doubt, regret. Basically every bad emotion you can think of became our daily routine. It was exhausting and most of the time I felt like giving up and going home. But that wasn't really an option. We had given everything up back in Ireland. We left our house. We had sold most of our belongings. We would be going back to nothing. We'd be starting from scratch after a very expensive, really crappy holiday!

When I got the job it came as a huge relief, we had an income. It took away a huge amount of stress. But soon the job just added to the stress. Yes, it paid the bills, just about. But the hours were long. The over-time was outrageous and unpaid. I had the worst boss I've ever come across, a truly unhinged and vindictive individual, who nobody liked (soon to immortalised in a script... that's the trouble with pissing off writers! Fair warning). I worked nights, slept days and saw my family less and less, never saw friends, my days off were in the middle of the week, when everyone else was working. So after a couple of months of this we decided it was time to move on. 

Something else the job did was remove all time for being creative and writing. Over the year I frantically tried to get something going, get writing, find ways I could get another film made, I think I recorded about ten kickstarter pitch videos for various projects, only for reality to tap me on the shoulder and say "What about the rent, the bills, your medical insurance. You can't be making films silly man!" And ideas would be chased away. I think the biggest thing to for me to come to terms with was not having the freedom anymore to get a project up and running. In Ireland I could. It would be hard work, but it could be done. Here, it feels like it's less of an option. I'd like to able to make my living from film, for that to pay the bills. But I just don't see how that can happen. Film has never paid me. I've never done it for money of course. I've done it for the love of it. But after a while, with a wife and two kids, you realise Love doesn't pay the bills. The currency of this mad world is cold hard cash. And as one opportunity after another slips away, you begin to wonder if there are many more left.

I still want to make films of course, I haven't given up on the dream. I hope I never reach the point where I do. I'm just trying to figure out how I can survive and still make films. Maybe I can only make the odd short film. Maybe I'll have to work, save, and make a feature film every two or three years, something small, that only takes a couple of weeks to shoot with a small cast and crew. I don't know. Even that seems way out of reach at the moment. But we're in flux again right now. I'm surround by packing boxes and thinking about getting set up in a new town. It'll be months before I can even think about all this again, and who knows what will happen then. Maybe some new opportunities, new ideas, new inspiration from a new town. God knows Indianapolis has provided me with enough material for a long time to come.

I had started looking at making 'Float' into a film, I even announced it would be my next film, but then I started getting quotes from people and the budget start going up and up and up... and I thought, there's no way I can get that kind of money now! I'm a nobody, nobody saw my last film, so who's going to give me $1,000,000 for this?!?! So I started looking at a more personal, smaller project, 'Pipe Dream', the story of how I built a half pipe at the side of my house back in the 80s, getting back to 'Emily's Song' territory. But that's set in Ireland, and I'm moving west! I haven't given up on either of them, they've just been push further back. I still want to make Float, but that might be three films away, 5 years away. I would love to make 'Pipe Dream', but how to I get to a point where I can raise enough money to make the film and then leave my family here for a month while I go back to Ireland to shoot it?! If reality taps me on the shoulder again, I'll break it's finger.

I've been talking to my wife about an Irish Film Society since we landed here last year. I wanted to get one going here, but never found the time. As part of that I'd like to set up a mentorship programme to encourage filmmakers, not just young filmmakers, but discouraged filmmakers, that 40 year-old who's been slogging it out for 20 years and is on the verge of giving up. Finding them, bringing them over here, for a week of film, education and encouragement, to reinvigorate them and inspire them, then lead them into a mentorship programme that guides them through a production. And sending American filmmakers to Ireland, to experience Cinema from a different perceptive, to work with Irish directors and actors. It's been on the cards for a while, so hopefully there's something there, some interest and support (finance!)

I guess I'll see what Seattle brings and where we are in a few months. I think I just need a solid surface to pitch from. I don't have that at the moment, so everything else is uncertain. I need a base! And a place me and my family can put down routes. You know, I really do wish it had worked out here for us, that we felt at home here. I really don't want to be moving all over again! When you've moved around the world, the last thing you want to do is move across a continent so soon! And their are so many great people here. People gave their time, encouragement, furniture and even money to help us get set up. I'll be forever grateful to them. And we really hope we're not offending them in someway by leaving, like we took what we could get and then bogged off somewhere else! It's not like that. It just didn't click for us here. It hasn't felt like home for us, and we realised after a while, it never would. I really don't know if it's going to be any better for us in Seattle, but we have to try. I moved to this country to give my kids a better life, and I'm going to keep moving until I do find it. So on we go, westward.

Our Route - 2300 Miles, 5 days, through 9 States, in a mini-van, with 2 kids under 5 and a dog!!!

2 comments:

Chris Wolfgang said...

Hi, Frank! I'm an old college classmate of Maryann's... I've followed her blog for awhile, found yours... you both are really fantastic writers! Hope you don't mind that a (nearly) perfect stranger is reading along.

I'm a native of Indianapolis, and I have to say I get it. I too left for something, anything, better when my life just demanded it one year. I have friends and family there whom I love dearly, but that city just isn't right for everyone. I applaud your daring to just up and move -- it's exactly what I did (though not with family and pets, I freely admit), and I hope you feel the relief I felt when you land in your new city.

I've been to Seattle only twice in my adult life. I did stay for weeks at a time each time, and I hope you all feel the laidback freedom I felt there. I hope the beautiful landscape feeds all of you, and I hope the creativity of its culture does the same.

Best of luck to you and your whole family -- I'm so so excited for this great big change!

Frank Kelly said...

Thank you Chris, appreciate the thoughts! And thanks for reading!!!