Camaraderie, focus and chemical addiction – are you an addict?

I thought I would repost this blog about what happens when you undertake a massive venture with a dedicated team. In this case it was the first London Screenwriters’ Festival, but it’s the same deal with a film too.

CJ at LSFPost event blues is a REAL condition… you get it when you wrap your film.

…I spent pretty much all of last week just coping with doing the daily stuff I needed to do, in order for the business to function. Well just about function.

This weekend I have done a lot of one thing. Sleep. It’s no surprise really, but I was surprised at just how ‘down’ I felt last week. And I reflected on why.

Of course it’s to be expected, after such an amazing event, who wouldn’t miss it?

And after bonding so powerfully with an amazing team (Judy, Gemma, Mina, Oli, Michael, Lucy, Phoebe, Chris, Oli two, the third Oli (!), Matheus and of everyone else who I can ‘t list), who wouldn’t miss them in the office (always bright and early as well as late at night)?

Of course, that all makes complete sense.

But what I am talking about, the ‘post event blues’, that is something deeper.

I have suffered form this ‘syndrome’ after every major challenge, the films, the books, and now the festival. So what’s it really all about?

Aside from the above, there is a marvelous domination in running an event like the LSF, or making a film. When you are doing it, pretty much nothing else matters. That focus, that clarity, it’s intoxicating in today’s distracting world. Inside that pressure cooker is a kind of bliss. If you have been there, you will know what I am talking about. I first experienced it while making my first feature, The Runner. Six weeks into the shoot, I distinctly recall driving a truck load of gear down a road in Wales, and thinking ‘gosh, what was life like before this?’ I couldn’t really connect with the idea of sitting down to watch TV for instance. That seemed like an alien concept. Such was the domination. And as I said, it was bliss.

(You can see that same bliss written all over my face in the picture above, taken by Leilani Holmes, in the chaos of the LSF production office on Sunday night – you can’t fake that!)

But I believe that there is a chemical component to it also. It makes sense on a biological level. For weeks (actually probably a couple of months), I have been running on a heady cocktail of natural chemicals that are released throughout the day. Be it adrenaline, serotonin or dopamine etc, all have been released regularly as we faced daily challenges, won some and lost some… And last Monday we all, the entire team, went from 100mph to dead stop in a moment. No wonder I wasn’t sleeping well for a whole week, only really managing to rest fully this weekend. I had become a chemical addict to the event we had undertaken.

And this mix of camaraderie, of laser focus (through the domination of the event that cannot be moved) combined with the chemical brain cocktail… well that’s what we film makers often become addicted to. It’s why very often we don’t enjoy sitting on a beach or making small talk at parties. Our brains are racing with possibilities, always attempting to re-create the circumstances where we can indulge in that lovely camaraderie, focus and enjoy our natural chemical addiction.

And personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And it’s why already, I am plotting the next LSF already…


Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author

5 Responses to Camaraderie, focus and chemical addiction – are you an addict?

  1. Oliver Dunn November 8, 2010 at 12:52 am #

    You know loads of Oli’s dont you.. I feel left out lol! Should have joined the festival team ha ha

  2. Jayne Lake November 8, 2010 at 8:54 am #

    I feel exactly the same Chris only all I had to do was enjoy.

    I’m not, however, at full stop. Thanks to everyone at LSWF I’m at ‘full throttle’! Cheers mate.


  3. Chris Hocking November 8, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    I don’t think it’s a chemical reaction… I think it’s actually a brain defect! Why would any sane person risk life and limb to make films? It’s crazy! No sleep, so many massive ups, so many incredible downs – it’s an absolutely insane roller-coaster ride… That said, like everyone else who reads this blog… I wouldn’t have it any other way! Onwards and upwards indeed!

  4. Joella November 8, 2010 at 5:27 pm #

    Hi, hello Chris, tried to post a comment on your blogsite in the early hours of the morning but couldn’t get it to go, don’t think my new device could muster enough signal for it (still getting to grips with its idiosyncrasies!) but had been okay for spending all day on your blogsite – that was the nature of my reply to you question are you an addict?? I said “um…quite possibly! I’ve reading your blogs since 7am this morning starting at number 1 – it’s 3am, I’ve hardly got out of my chair all day and there’s still plenty to go!
    Marvellous resource site, so much information and so entertaining as well! thankyou. All the best to you all at team living spirit!”

    Was tempted to jest “Are you not the Jones ‘pulling the sword from the stone’ for UK indiefilm industry?!!”

    Good tag! Hope that cheers you from your post gig comedown! (but since you’ve got fans in the middle east wasn’t sure if web readers in foreign lands would get the joke ref, you’ve got to be so careful what you say these days with global reach – anyway, you know what i’m saying!!

    I’ve been working my way through the livestream shows too – great ‘infotainment’ – re you mentioning about how your tv film viewing of the cowboy & dinosaur film meant so much more to you because you couldn’t tape it, no VHS & watch again facility etc – I just recently read an article on the bbc site by John Taylor remarking on this same thing

    Also i saw this article which is relevant for films as well as music

    Looking forward to enjoying more of your site, still plenty to go!

    cheers joella

  5. Anton Russell November 9, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    That was a special production office on Sunday night.

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