1997. I want to be a filmmaker. My parents have reservations. ‘Don’t worry,’ I assure them. ‘It’s going to be great.’ I begin studying film.
Lizzy Gardiner won an Oscar for her costume designs on Stephan Elliot’s mega hit, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Not long after my decision to study film, Gardiner directs an insightful documentary titled Killing Priscilla (2000). The film depicts the troubled production of Elliot’s fourth feature, Eye of the Beholder. After watching it I head to bed feeling depressed. Defeated. I’ve just watched a visionary director being screwed over ‘by the system’.
A couple of years pass by. I finish studying at uni. I travel overseas. I resign myself to the idea of pursing filmmaking as a hobby, not a career.
But the bug bites again. I want to be a filmmaker. I commence a post-graduate filmmaking course. Some guest speakers arrive in Week 10. Famous, respected filmmakers. My eyes light up. They then recount depressing tales. Most of them are frustrated. I’m not inspired. I drop out of the course shortly after.
A few months later, the 2002 Inside Film awards are held. Gary Doust wins the Inside Film Independent Spirit Award for his fantastic documentary, Making Venus. Doust makes an acceptance speech that alludes to the difficulty of making his film. He jokes about the ‘hand to mouth’ lifestyle of filmmakers.
RING RING! The phone. It’s Mum. She’s just watched the same acceptance speech. ‘I’m so glad you’ve decided not to be a filmmaker,’ she sighs.
But not for long. The fire is still burning inside me. It burns brighter and brighter. I can’t ignore it. So I watch Killing Priscilla again. The first time in three years. The same film. The same filmmaking struggles. As the closing credits roll, I decide that I want to be a filmmaker… again! I don’t care how hard it’s going to be. So I return to film school. More importantly, I begin writing again.
I’ve never regretted my decision. I never ask, ‘What if?’ because I’ve tried the alternative and I don’t like it.
Whenever someone mentions that they want to be a filmmaker, I always advise them to watch Killing Priscilla. Or Hearts of Darkness. If you still want to be a filmmaker afterwards, you’re going to make it.