Reflections On Quarantine Film Making

Today, I was reminded that art is alive and well. The Hollywood industrial process has been under tremendous pressure. The indie film world, also slowed, is still at work too, even though COVID remains with us. I say this because I’ve been judging the Quarantini Film Festival, a monthly fest founded by Dana Olita that supports and awards filmmakers making socially-distanced short films during this difficult time.

Quarantini Film Festival supports the indie film community during the pandemic with access to online screenings and awards.

I have learned and been reminded of a few things while judging the Quarantini entries:

  1. Art finds a way. I’ve seen some great films submitted to Quarantini Film Festival. Where there’s a will, there is a way, even under un-ideal circumstances.
  2. Sometimes, constraints embolden our creativity. Doing a lot with a little is part-and-parcel of low budget film making, but the constraints indie filmmakers are creating under are unprecedented. I’ve seen amazing creative risks taken on screen in the last three rounds of the Quarantini Film Festival. Some hit and some missed the mark, but when business-as-usual goes out the window, we have to ask what’s possible. I’ve witnessed tremendous creativity under the pressure of the pandemic.
  3. The pandemic has many people committed to speaking their truth, directly or indirectly. I’ve seen heart-wrenching drama shorts, contemplative docu-dramas and wicked comedies that all hit home. All of us have a story to tell that’s part of this larger pandemic narrative.

The truth is many film festivals and the whole culture of film festivals going forward is uncertain. Theatrical exhibition is still difficult and frankly, unobtainable in many areas. Your larger press outlets like Variety, Deadline, The Hollywood reporter, et al, are only really covering the larger festivals that have film markets. That gives sort of skewed picture of the filmmaking landscape in general. Indie filmmaking is alive. Indie films are being shown. It may not be on a large screen, but you can get your work out there on online fests like Quarantini. Seize the moment. You’ll never know what you’ll learn, how you’ll grow or who you’ll impact.

Bullet Journal reboot

Even though we’ve been under quarantine, I’ve been busy. Today, I started to re-build my bullet journal after a pause. For me, the bullet journal is a tool of self-discovery, self-management and self-discipline.

I started bullet journaling last September as a means of achieving more of what I desired, instead of reacting to my industry and its whims. New to bullet journaling, my journal is far from perfect…like me.

My focus today, in prepping my bullet-journal, was “Where am I now?” I’ve changed, the world has changed. My journal needs to reflect those changes.

Things I’ve learned:

  1. Less is more. I used to have an 18 task to-do list. I trimmed it down to five today.
  2. I gave my permission to let go of what was not working. There’s a lot of should-s. There’s a lot of hype of around morning rituals, affirmations, etc. I am not trying to force myself to do something because it’s trendy. I am doing it because it works for me.
  3. No matter what I plan, the best things come when I yield and receive. I didn’t plan on attempting my first feature film this year. It wasn’t in the journal or the plan. Guess, what? 2020 has brought a few surprises. No matter what I plan, I trust that there’s a divine plan that’s working out for me too.
  4. Productivity is not a substitute for happiness. Yes, I can be productive, but I can be productively unhappy. That was the state of so many people prior to the pandemic. It’s time to be happy. I don’t have to pile on the projects, errands, and chores to prove that I deserve happiness.
  5. Habits and habituation are the building blocks of life. I am an unconventional person. I am a night owl. I am nerdilicious. There’s a lot of ways I don’t fit into the traditional “successful adult” paradigm. Yet, I am a successful adult and that’s because of my habits. One of the best things about bullet journaling is that it helps you encourage good habits. I’ve seen tremendous improvement in many areas.
  6. Just because you can carry the load doesn’t mean you should. A never-ending task list is a form of avoidance. The quarantine helped me face what all of those bullets were helping me avoid.

As we re-enter the new normal, I am keeping my journal more responsive. I am not demanding too much of myself. I am trying not to make my plans too elaborate too fast.

Photo by Jess Bailey on Pexels.com

Admitting My Fears

I’d be lying right now if I didn’t admit I was scared.

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I am scared everyday.  I am scared by the lack of leadership and coherence.  I am scared by the lack of unity.  I am scared that there’s no vaccine and not enough tests for this virus.  I am scared of the halt to most filming.  I am scared for loved ones who live in states where social distancing isn’t respected.  I am scared when I sneeze or cough, or feel just plain icky.

Once again, it’s time to inventory what I can and cannot control.

  1.  I can lead by example by social distancing and wearing masks and gloves.  I can post about what I am doing to stop the spread of this virus.  I can set a standard for my family to follow and take proper precautions.
  2. I can choose not to add to the din of social media right now.  I can choose not to attack my neighbors, friends and strangers online or offline.  I can choose to add helpful, factual information from credible sources and actionable tips and advice.  An ignorant person has to choose not to remain ignorant. I can instruct the ignorant, but its not my place to scold or punish those who are willfully and dangerously ignorant.
  3. I am not a scientist.  I choose to trust the science and the scientists, doctors and nurses.  When I need expert advice, I take it.
  4. Many of our industries will bounce back after a time.  It may not be on my preferred timeline, and there will be changes, but the film industry is resilient.  I am resilient and I will adapt as best I can to the changes that will inevitably take place.
  5. I cannot choose the actions or inaction of the federal, states or local governments.  I can share what I know to be true with my family.  They can make their choices in accordance with their local laws.  I may not like what other states are or aren’t doing, but I believe in democracy and I believe people DO get the government they DESERVE.  If you believe you deserve better, vote and act differently.
  6. I can keep my risk of contracting COVID-19 down by maintaining social distance, washing my hands, disinfecting surfaces and keeping myself minimally stressed.  A sneeze is not a death sentence.

When we keep facing our fears, we can be more honest with ourselves.  There is no “okay” right now.  It’s okay to be “not okay”.  However, we can’t just let our fears spin around in our monkey minds.  We need to get curious about them, like we would a new, intriguing species or a first date.

I’ve found Therapeer to be a free, valuable resource to discuss your COVID-19 fears with supportive peers.

Join me on Therapeer to receive peer emotional support, and to support others in need. Follow this link to get your own private support room for free https://www.therapeer.app/invite/xupg3

I am still scared, but I am supported in moving through and beyond my fears.