from insecurities to a buddhist monk

This should be week one of animation for the final project, but things aren’t looking great for me at the moment. And here I am, writing away a whinny post instead of putting my head down and work.

So here goes a big post in the hopes it’ll help me think this project through.
At the moment I have just finished working on my freelance jobs and will be able to focus solely on the film. This is quite scary/daunting because it basically eliminates any excuses I have not to work on the project while also giving me shit loads of anxiety about my tendency to procrastinate hard. At the moment my brain is not in work mode and this needs to change fast.

I am doubting everything, my animatic is not finished yet, and I have no idea where I am going with the story. I feel like I am losing focus on the stuff I wanted to do/include in the film, and now that I’m constantly reminding myself of all the things that are missing I have started to question the whole story structure I have already developed. I am getting insecure and I’m not trusting the quality of the stuff I am doing. This is terribly counterproductive because if I doubt the idea then I can’t really develop it with joy, playfulness and freedom. Add to it being seriously behind and I just feel powerless about it all. Around me, everyone is on track and has started animating and here I am: clueless and frustrated with life – forever insecure about my qualities.

I’m sure I’m being my biggest enemy with all these negative thoughts but at the moment it’s almost like it’s good enough that I have stopped feeling constantly sick about being super delayed. The problem is even without the feeling that I’m about to throw up at any time and without the stomach cramps, work still needs to get done and my brain is simply not cooperating.

I am getting entangled in a negativity spiral and it’s hard to get out, like when someone tells you not to think about pink elephants

To conclude in a more practical way, I am not sure that doing the animatic straight ahead is helping me so I might just try and spend the rest of today storyboarding in post-its.

I want to mention in the film the things that bother me the most at the moment, and I’ve already managed to refer plastic in the oceans and feminism, but I am missing veganism, (anti-)capitalism, and now that I’ve started this ‘journey’ the feeling of never being good enough has returned so I really really want to mention it: never running fast enough, bending enough or having enough strength in yoga, drawing good enough, being appreciated enough at work/what I do.. it’s a monster feeling that freezes me and doesn’t let me do anything right/enjoy the process. I think I need to criticise/ridicule this behaviour in me as a way to (at least try to) set me free from it.

In a very skewed way, I recently watched an episode of chef’s table about Jeong Kwan – a Korean Buddhist monk and she said something that rang very close and true for me.

“Creativity and ego cannot go together. If you free yourself from the comparing and jealous mind, your creativity opens up endlessly. Just as water springs from a fountain, creativity springs from every moment. You must not be your own obstacle.You must not be owned by the environment you are in. You must own the environment, the phenomenal world around you. You must be able to freely move in and out of your mind. This is being free. There is no way you can’t open up your creativity. There is no ego to speak of. That is my belief.”

you can see the episode here

I have also had a meeting with Margaux and when she saw my animatic she mentioned I should have more positive points in regards to my character’s life because otherwise the story might just be interpreted as the depiction of a depressed person’s life. And although I feel she might be right, I’ve started to think that this is not quite the case for me. I live my life with a thousand worries 24/7 and I simply cannot stop my brain from thinking like this – it is a f*cking burden, but I have slowly learnt to grow resilient and live a peacefully-ish life with the constant feeling that the world as we know it is going to end and there is nothing I can do to affect the change I want to see happening. I have learnt to live with my insignificance and this powerlessness feeling, so maybe I need to rethink this thing about happy thoughts/moments of the film. I don’t think that’s what I want to talk about.

Video Jam x Basquiat

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Barbican to see the ‘closing ceremony‘ for Basquiat’s exhibition. It was a (roughly) 2-hour show comprising 7 new short films commissioned for the occasion. Along with the films, musicians were selected to play live. Each film had a different score, played by a different set of musicians.

A while ago I went to see Kim Noce’s performance at the ICA, and in a way, this show reminded me of it. If for nothing else, the use of live music to accompany a film, and the experimental feeling of both film and audio in all of the 7 collaborations, alluded to the same feeling I had when watching Kim’s performance.

This time though the films were mainly live action, although there were 2 of them animated (I’ll get there soon). The abstraction and the seemingly scriptless films converged into discourses of race, freedom and in some cases gender.

Overall it was great to go and to see such varied approaches to celebrate Basquiat. I found myself sometimes questioning what would’ve he thought of the whole show, only to come to conclude that it cannot be offensive to inspire other artists to build upon our practice. I felt the energy of the room was really supportive and positive and that was quite nice too.

It’s been a while since I have seen the show and that, although not ideal when reviewing something, put the distance for me to think about the films and/or musical performances that have really put a mark on me.

So to begin with let’s talk about the first animated film that was screened: Fishbowl by Gabrielle Ledet and Jack Wedge. To be honest, i thought that the animation in itself was quite clunky and naive looking, but it matched quite well with the visuals and, above all, the music by this London band called Ibidio Sound Machine was the perfect proof that sound makes the greatest difference in a film. With such a colourful and gleeful looking animation, the band just heightened the whole thing with a very very happy and catchy song filled with an African heat that just made it so fun to watch I was actually a bit sad when it finished.

Music wise, apart from Ibidio Sound Machine I was also really impressed with Seaming To. For me, on these two occasions, it was the music/sound that pulled the film and made it (more) impactful.

Then there were two very very strong films that had the luck to have an amazing score to play along. It so happened that they were the last two films.

I was completely mesmerised with ’88 by ruffmercy. Firstly, I had no idea of the existence of this person and I felt my life had been incomplete. The maximalism in the film was overwhelming in a good way, and the animation worked amazingly in the context. He used loads of elements from Basquiat’s work and mixed them all together with a good amount of morphing and always a great screen composition – and by that I mean the background was constantly frantically changing, the colours flashed into different ones and everything was so busy and intense! ah, I loved it!

I immediately googled him when I got out of the room, but I do have to say I think his work becomes way more interesting in a showroom more than on my phone. His work felt all very similar once I watched a couple of video clips..

But after all this time, I think the most powerful film of that evening, for me, was Fetish by Topher Campbell. He filmed himself walking naked in the streets of New York, and it came across as a very strong commentary on race and our culture. The music by Young Fathers accompanied the film so flawlessly, it was really a strong piece.