So, here goes.
* The annum began somewhat timidly in Sydney, not just because of the lingering trauma of COVID, but also because of its sudden resurgence between December 2020 and January 2021. Unfortunately, this reticence would be an indicator of what was to come over the next twelve months. With so many film festivals cancelling or moving online, and most productions without the resources to surmount the COVID safety hurdles, it was a very quiet start to the year.
* Despite that negative inertia, I received the delightful news that my feature documentary in development - 'Richard and the Windmill' - had been selected for the Industry Pitch competition at DocEdge NZ. I pitched the concept so many times at the event in April, I could recite the speech in my sleep. Good practice though, with an even better result: we were announced as one of the winning pitches!
* Just as we were beginning to build momentum, however, the dreaded Delta variant arrived. It was May 2021, and the country watched with anxiety to see if our island borders had officially been breached. By early June, Delta was suddenly exploding everywhere. Three weeks later, on my birthday, Sydney was officially back in lockdown.
* This dance of good news for my work and bad tidings for the global health situation, continued apace for the next few months. In July I learned that 'Risen', which I produced in collaboration with writer/director Tony Radevski, had been selected for the Oscar-accredited LA Shorts International Film Festival. All circumstances considered, the festival opted for an online version, so this achievement was tempered with the fact I never left my living room or my comfortable pants. Perhaps in rebellion against this stasis I also took on another producing project, a beautifully poetic short film called 'Fish Lake'; written and directed by Emma Jaay.
* In another bemusing twist to this whole lockdown saga, we were advised that 'Risen' also won 'Best Sci-Fi Film' at LA Shorts in August, which is a wonderful accolade that we were only able to celebrate via Zoom and modestly priced wine. We made the best of it with good cheer, regardless.
* As August rolled around, the full weight of the continuing lockdown landed with a thud. On reflection, it occurred to me that I'd come into 2021 with the hope that it would not be a "lost year" like its predecessor. When the calendar flipped to the eighth month, and we were still in lockdown, the heavy realisation that we had forfeited another precious year finally dawned on me.
* Not that I had a lot of time to feel sorry for myself. In August, 'Richard and the Windmill' was selected for the industry pitching event at the Dhaka DocLab. Once again, Richard's story was well received, which was much needed encouragement at that emotionally frayed time.
* In September, again perhaps as a psychological response to the feeling of stagnation, I signed on to co-produce a short documentary called 'Line Rider', with a talented Slovenian director named Simon Intihar. We're excited to be releasing that one this year.
* And then, a ray of sunshine in October. The lockdown in Sydney was officially ended. Relief at last...?
* While existing in our hermetically sealed lives, the end of the year barreled closer and closer. This reality could have renewed our sense of melancholy, but instead we were greeted with the announcement that the 'Risen' TV pilot script - penned by the talented Mr Radevski - was selected as a quarterfinalist (top 25%) in the ScreenCraft TV Pilot Competition in November; from 3800 worldwide submissions. An incredible achievement.
* The macabre dance twirled on. One day an international accolade, the next Omicron announces its November arrival. What a time to be alive.
* Which brought us to December. As we learned more about Omicron's potency (or lack thereof), some of us dared to wonder aloud: is this finally the end? Into the heart of that burgeoning optimism, came the news that our 'Risen' short film had been selected for two festivals: Shockfest Film Festival in the USA, and the Oscar-accredited Flickerfest International Film Festival in Australia. That early Xmas gift was followed up with an official invitation to premiere our short-form LGBTIQ comedy series 'Romp' at the Mardi Gras Film Festival in February. Spoils all around.
Thus bringing the heartbreak and triumphs of 2021 officially to a close.
At this point I would ordinarily have an overarching observation, some moral or lesson learned from another leg of this creative journey. When it comes to last year, however, I am officially stumped.
Babies were born and other lives ended. New jobs commenced and fledgling businesses founded. Awards were won. Students graduated. Lovers of every kind walked down the aisle, while others walked away from each other altogether.
Yet in spite of all the universe threw at us, we endured while the planet continued its celestial rotation.
There's something inspiring in that simple truth.
Perhaps the kindest thing I can say about 2021, is that we survived it.
And may there never be another one like it.
Onwards and upwards.