I consider my work to be pretty diverse from gritty dramas to fashion films and I thrive on the fact that one day I might be directing fight scenes for a music video, the next, a film about breastfeeding.
As a freelancer, work is rarely constant, once you finish one commission, you often begin a period of pitching/putting yourself out there until the next gig comes along. I’ve been lucky that the last few years and particularly since I won an award for my short films from Channel 4, has meant fairly consistent work. Up until baby O arrived of course, then I needed to take time out for him and time for me to adjust to motherhood. Now 10 months on, I’m starting to feel ready to get things moving again…
It was quite a transition, to go from what was full time (ish) filmmaking, leading teams of up to 40 crew or more, to little baby and I getting through the day, my mind seemingly transported to another planet as I wrestled to stay awake through the initial haze of motherhood.
Things certainly improved as time went on but I now truly understand why many women opt for 9 months maternity leave or more. I wasn’t ready to get back to directing until now and sadly my timing seems a little off as it’s pretty hard times in the industry with production companies closing and funding lost.
All being well, I have a few commissions set for early next year so at the moment in between caring for my number 1 man, I’m focusing some time on one of my independent ‘passions projects’: an animation short film I wrote and am directing called ‘Little Bird’.
I wrote the script several years ago, never thinking one day we could make it. It was animation, an area I’d never worked in and like any writer, you realise it’s never short of a miracle to get your independent projects financed.
Now after 2 years of preparation, recruiting superb crew, completing detailed research, production design, character designs (one of the characters Elena features on the header of this blog inspired by me), budgets, schedules, boards, etc etc, we received a small grant for the film from The Hellenic Foundation and animation recently began. This dark comedy follows a little bird who is accidentally pushed from his nest on top of a quaint hotel, who against all odds must grow wings and learn to fly.
It’s my debut animation film so it’s totally new territory for me. A bit like motherhood! Luckily I have a stellar team around me, all working in their downtime. Crew in the industry often do this (as do I), if they really believe in a project.
The early drafts of the storyboards (where each shot of the film is drawn ) were mapped out with eminent artist Peter Western, before the baby came along and took many months to be created whiles I had time out once O arrived. Once finalised, we quickly moved onto the animatic, a guide of what the finished film will look like, before we started animating.
The 3 days I spent working on the animatic revitalised me and helped me to remember how much I love filmaking. To see your vision coming to fruition, in this case an early draft of the film, is truly incredible. I’m very lucky that my Mum came to look after O so I could work and it was this time which really precipitated the decision to move near my family.
In order to do what I love I need my folks around me. This industry is hard and in order to succeed in getting paid commissions to pay the bills, and of course continuing these passion projects, so vital in nurturing your ‘voice’, I need to take up the offer from my family to help me. This was further confirmed to me at a meeting I had recently in my home town with a TV producer who commented she couldn’t do her job without her family helping with childcare. So Little Bird needs to grow wings and learn to fly and right now I can relate to that, just need my Mum to help me along the way.