Interview with Pippa Best, Script Editor & Founder of Story of Mum
Credit: Brigitte Bouillot
Like many mothers, Pippa has many identities:
– Mum to two kids (aged 5 and 2)
– Wife to a surfing Location Manager
– Mama Champion at Story of Mum (a diverse creative community for mamas)
– Project Co-Director at the Cross Channel Film Lab (an Anglo-Franco film development lab that brings together screenwriters and technicians) – – Feature Film Script Editor (with editing skills once described as being ‘as rare as unicorns’ by Simon Beaufoy)
In her spare time, she sleeps.
Describe a typical day for you?
My husband leaves for work before I wake up. My kids jump on me at about 6.30am and I try to distract them unsuccessfully for about half an hour before I give up, shower, and head down to make them breakfast.
On a work day, I can nearly always be found balancing my computer on the arm of my armchair in my ‘office’ aka the front room. I could be skyping with our Cross Channel Film Lab partners in France or my lovely co-worker Mary in the UK, planning and managing the Lab activity, or reading and writing script reports.
I’ll try to take myself off to sit on my front step with a cuppa or to go look at the sea for 10 minutes each work day to breathe in the view. On a really good day, I’ll jump in for a swim. I’m very lucky that my work fits flexibly around my kids – apart from two weeks a year where I have to head to Brittany and elsewhere in Cornwall to run the Lab workshops. I also make time for yoga once a week, which I love, and I always have some kind of mind-stretching project on the go – right now, it’s Practice, an e-course combining yoga and self-portraiture from Anna Guest-Jelley of Curvy Yoga and photographer Vivienne McMaster.
On a non-work day, you can find me on the beach or the park with my daughter or both kids. We’ll probably be looking at snails and going on the swings, rain or shine. I’ll either be pretending to be a princess, a power ranger, or a train. We’ll meet friends for a coffee and a run around, visit a local gallery, or head to the library. After school, we’re off for more park-time with friends or we all collapse in front of the TV. We’ll eat dinner together and talk about our day, I’ll get them bathed and tucked up in bed with a story and cuddles, and then it’s back to the computer for me.
In the evening, I’ll do zumba once or twice a week, then I tend to work until midnight, mainly on Story of Mum stuff – blogging, co-ordinating the exhibition, hosting a #somum Make Date on twitter, or planning our next big project. Summer is my husband’s busiest work time, so I’m missing him at the moment. The plus side is that there’s no reason for me to get off my computer, so I get a lot done…
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
My two kind funny happy cheeky beautiful kids.
My marriage – we’ve been together for over 14 years now, married for 8. I feel lucky that we’ve grown in the same direction over those years, and proud that we’ve worked hard at supporting each other and making our marriage work.
I’ve achieved lots in my career, and I love having been key in making projects like the Cross Channel Film Lab happen from nothing, but most of all I’m proud of Story of Mum. It’s the first project that has stemmed entirely from my own passion and beliefs, and it inspires me to be brave, honest, creative and to take risks every day. Story of Mum helps others, but it helps me even more. I’ve been able to share my mistakes, my shame, my joys and my fears. I’ve learnt so much from the stories and creativity of other mothers. I’ve made wonderful inspiring connections and friends around the world, and it remains my cast-iron excuse to fit fun experimental creative time into my hectic weekly schedule.
Of all the projects we’ve hosted at Story of Mum, I’ve been particularly proud of the ways in which our Love Mum Body project has approached the sharing of photographs and feelings we have about our mum-bodies. This project also prompted a complete transformation in my own relationship with my body – which is a great illustration of how much Story of Mum helps me too.
And our current Story of Mum: Mums Making an Exhibition of Ourselves project has been a huge and wonderful experiment! Both the real-life gallery tour, and the virtual tour stops shared by bloggers like Vicki today have been incredibly inspiring – stimulating powerful insights into motherhood. I’m passionate about the impact of sharing our stories and finding ways to make invisible mothers visible and this project is a step towards putting all those amazing things we do as mothers centre stage.
What advice would you give your pre baby self that you now know having had children?
Work isn’t who you are. It’s wonderful to work hard and have a career that inspires you, but it isn’t the only interesting thing about you, nor is it the one way to define your value. Instead of asking ‘what do you do?’, try asking ‘what’s your story?’
You can miss an awful lot if you are constantly rushing from ambition to ambition. Sometimes it’s good to stop and watch the snails.
Your children will inspire you to be the best and bravest person you can be, for them, and for yourself. But why wait until you have kids, baby-sick all over your clothes, and you’re pretending to be a banana monster in a public place? Worry less about what other people think of you right now.
You decide what defines beautiful.
What’s in your handbag?
The last time I found one (under a pile of side-table detritus), it was full of letter-shaped fridge magnets. Mostly I hang a massive bag of some description off the buggy (right now I have a nice stripy one from my sister in law in Singapore), stuffed full of anything you might need in a child emergency. I am always ‘prepared’. And yet the buggy always shocks me with a backwards crash as soon as my daughter gets out.
What are your ambitions in life?
To see my kids happy. To help more mums to be their brave wonderful selves and feel supported on this journey to bring new people into the world. To change the world for the better by being brave and being the best me I can be.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
My kids will be 10 and 7, and I can’t imagine that at all! But in my ultimate fantasy version of five years from now, I’m running hugely successful mama retreats in Cornwall and online, with generous subsidies that ensure they’re available to every mother who needs them. Story of Mum is a global hub for mums to share their stories, and is making an income that can be reinvested elsewhere to change the world for the better. I have time for yoga, creativity, and play with my kids every day (in the last few precious years before they become teenagers and hate me), and I’ve finally started to write those kids books and screenplays I have in my head. All of this in between heading off on family surf-trips round the world (strictly swimming for me, but it keeps the husband happy…)
What advice would you give a budding Script Editor?
Watch all the films you can. Read all the screenplays you can. Try to write at least one screenplay of your own, if only so you can understand how incredibly difficult it is. Always highlight what is working first. Tread carefully – whatever the material, somewhere it’s deeply personal. Don’t assume you know the answers – the answers are in the writer, you just have to ask the right questions.
Finally, happiness is…
Knowing I am fulfilling my potential, living with passion, purpose and kindness, and helping others to do the same.
Most of all, happiness is being with people I love, with the sun on my face, bare feet to chase my kids with, and something delicious to eat.
We are always looking for more brave creative mamas (which of course means all mothers) to join the creative adventure at www.storyofmum.com.
We also host a live Make Date on twitter every second Wednesday of the month (#somum 8.30-10pm), the next is on 11 September. We’ll be making Mama Mash-Ups and talking mama-identities and all of you are very welcome to come and play. You can see what we got up to at our last Make Date here.
Our next live exhibition events are at The Exchange (Penzance) on 12/13 September and The Photographers Gallery (London) on 18/19 October. After that, we’re off to the Museum of Motherhood in New York. As well as the exhibition itself, we’re hosting mum-only evening Make Dates and creative family workshops and we’d love you to join us – you can find out more at www.storyofmum/exhibition.
We’d love you to share your story with us on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Even better, if you sign up to join our community or receive our newsletter, you’ll also get our popular free e-book stuffed full of Mamas’ Reward Charts (including gold stars for remembering your children’s names, putting things in a pile, and having a good cry…) Join us here!
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