Tuesday, 26 February 2013

From rush-hour, with love


If this were Hollywood, our story would have ended at the cast and crew screening in November.

CUT TO: Eric vs. the zombies. A crash to black and credits start to roll. Silence from the room. The camera pushes in on the nervous faces of the two filmmakers as the lights go up. The men glance at each other – they slowly stand to face a barrage of flack from 180 unhappy punters. One of them opens his mouth to speak, but a single clap rings out from the back of the room; the men glance across, confused. The clap is joined by another, and then by more and more people applauding, until the whole room are on their feet, cheering wildly. The filmmakers are overcome with emotion; a celebratory fist is thrust into the air in slow motion as we fade to a triumphal close.

This, however, is Hampshire. So we have ended up with a dramatically-superfluous fourth act: Jake and I try and sell the bugger.

I’m getting slightly ahead of myself. I haven’t contributed anything to the Zombie Resurrection story since November, so we have some catching up to do. And from a production perspective the two most profound events since the screening have been Jake’s and my successful re-integration into the world of the day-job.

Well, the holiday had to end at some point.

And while I (at least) am quite enjoying my new daily activities, I do appear to have wound up with exactly the kind of job that I wasn’t looking for. And it’s all to do with labelling.

More specifically, it’s all to do with how you answer the question “what do you do?” Over the last two years whenever I felt myself reaching for the answer “filmmaker”, I knew exactly what the next question would be. “Oh really? Anything I might have seen?”

“Um, well, it’s kind of in post-production at the moment…”

Ah – so you’re not really a “filmmaker”, you’re “making a film”. Semantics, yes, but there are a lot of people that we’ve met who are “making a film”. Anyone with a good idea / screenplay / mate with a camera / etc. is “making a film”, especially if there’s a chance that it may get them laid.

And until your movie is available in ASDA or Amazon, it’s your fault that there is a glaring cultural gap in their film-watching history.

When I look back on my almost completely unsuccessful job-hunting strategies at the end of last year, it seems in hindsight that I was guided by extraordinary narcissism. Don’t go looking for anything that resembles a career, Phelps, because that will instead label you as an “engineer who happens to have made a film”. Get a job that has “temporary source of cash” stamped all over it, and avoid the kind of nuanced conversations about where your working loyalties lie that trainee baristas and shelf-stackers never get into.

And in this regards, I have failed.

Failed, thanks to the actions of an eagle-eyed recruitment consultant; I have somehow swapped my carefree lifestyle for one of alarm clocks, freshly-laundered shirts, self-enforced curfews and a commute. And a job that painfully resembles what I was doing when I got laid off two years ago.

I once made a zombie film, you know? Back in that two-year career break.

And here is where I get to stop whining. While I can feel my life starting to speed up again, the novelty of feeding the mortgage hasn’t worn off just yet, and there are plenty of jobs that I could be doing that wouldn’t be half as entertaining (or pay as well). And it’s not like we’ve let losing forty hours a week get in the way of selling the movie.

Oh – that? That’s a story for later. Back-peddling.

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