Postcard from down under… what does it all mean?

SimonVDS Over the last few years I have got to know a film maker down in Australia, Simon VanDerSpoel, who both contributed to ‘Gone Fishing’ and also made a doc called Spitfire Guradians – I recorded a Podcast with Simon about Spitfire Guardians some time back, you can listen here. I also met up with Simon when I went to the Heart Of Gold Film Festival in Australia earlier this year, and there is an epic video blog of that experience here.

Simon wrote to me today, about his current mind set and experiences – it seems that while I was taking off time in Devon, he was also off with his other half, the charming and lovely Evita, but in a place altogether hotter! Our shared but polarized vacations chimed however, as you will see from the edited email below…

The need to refresh and take stock of where you are was something that I had been avoiding, I'd used my holidays as time to work on my own projects, and to tell you the truth it was burning me up. After everything I've seen and everything that's happened to my family, I guess I've been looking at the world with a sense of urgency, a pressure within to succeed, before I too either faded in to obscurity and the mundane, or passed away.
Last month I was driving back from a commercial shoot about two hours drive from work, in front of us, driving in the same direction, a log truck lost control and hit a car coming the other way. It was shredded. In all my life I've never seen anything like it. I mean for years I've been attending fatal accidents after the event (note from Chris – Simon is a news cameraman), you prepare your mind for what you will see and it's a job. But to see it actually happen, in the space of seconds, people died right there, it just was numbing.  Needless to say I point blank refused to film it for the news and the emergency services waved us through to leave.
It's a fragile existence we lead, and yet I didn't need anymore reminders of this fact as you know (note from Chris – see past blogs). As you said to me before, it should highlight the need within ourselves to get our stories out while we can. But this need is like pushing against a wall, a mental wall within, a metaphorical wall of bureaucracy, funding and powers that be, without.
Yet the creative drive inside needs to be expressed, like a soldier with the skills to fight, we look for a side to fight for, a story to fight for, meaning to be found in these stories, meaning to be given to this life.
I guess that's why people call you an inspiration, a title you may feel uncomfortable in wearing, but it leads to the heart of your argument. Take action, take big action, for action is experiences, and experiences added up are a life. Not many people do that.
Before reading your books, I had put a time frame on success, based on stories of other film makers who had hit the 'jackpot' of making a film young (25) and skyrocketing off to fame and fortune. I read your advice of 'make a film when you're sixty' and nodded, but I didn't truly absorb it, as I found myself in an unconscious race against myself to be successful in film, and a year has passed and I have made another doco, which I'm actually disappointed with. But I learned from the experiences.
It wasn't until I'd taken this holiday with Evita, and stopped, truly stopped, and let go that I feel happy. I'm still writing my feature script, but I'm not rushing to get it out, I'm having a glass of wine when I write. I'm reading a fiction book instead of a film reference book, I'm going to the beach as often as I can, I'm trying to enjoy the experiences of writing and living, so I can enjoy the process of production, and enjoy a creative life in general.
I hope things are well with you, I hope your endeavors are coming to fruition, I hope you and Lucia are well. Look after yourself bloke and maybe one day I'll see you around sometime,

Simon Van Der Spoel

Thanks for your email Simon. I think that in 100 years, creativity will be diagnosed as a disease. I really do. It’s not something I choose, it chooses me, and often I am it’s servant. I know that at the dinner table, family and friends can complain or exchange knowing glances when I go off into that special creative world in my head. I sometimes wish I could stop having ideas. It seems I can’t. I mentioned on the blog a few days ago that I am reading a book on copyrighting, and another phrase from that book really resonated…

‘The truly creative mind in any field is no more than… a cruelly delicate organism with the overpowering necessity to create, create, create – so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating…’
Pearl Buck

The book is called ‘The Adweek Copyrighting Handbook’ by Joseph Sugarman

And yes Simon, when you come to the UK or I come back down under, we will surely hook up at your mums for another steak on the barbie!

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author

One Response to Postcard from down under… what does it all mean?

  1. Vera November 21, 2009 at 1:41 pm #

    Thanks Chris and Simon for these thoughts! Chris, I twitched a bit at your term “disease”. Sure, creativity can be a real stress on yourself and your immediate environment when you don’t interact because you’re off in your story world. But the term “disease” runs the danger of invoking the cliché of the depressive writer with three divorces and an alcohol problem. I prefer Simon’s angle on it: let go, have a glass of wine and read something other than a “craft book”. Think I’ll try that tonight :).

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