Sunday, January 17, 2016


There is so much pessimism out there in the world, it's hard not to succumb to it.

But you try and resist. You're like a single rock, battling to withstand the roaring sea. Everyone else eroded long ago.

It's in the news. Facebook. In conversation. The economy. Politics. Relationships.

It's everywhere.

And I wish this pessimism had been repelled by the arts. That the pursuit of truth via artistic expression was somehow a talisman against this gloom. But it seems even stronger here.

"The industry is crumbling under piracy."

"No-one can make a living anymore."

"There are too many films and TV shows being made, and we are suffocating each other."

Heartwarming stuff.

I had a chance to experience this cheerful world view at a recent filmmakers forum. The topic was 'Stories Valued: Audience and revenue in the new distribution landscape'

The angst in the room was deafening.

Words were thrown around like "value", "piracy", "revenue", and "commoditisation". Thankfully there was an open bar at the end. The melancholy in the room was enough to drive anyone to drink.

It's the anthem of the modern era. Allegedly, there is not enough for everyone, of anything. You're not good enough to be considered of value, or to save your self from being expendable. Everyone wants what you have, and you didn't work hard enough for it in the first place.

And the worst: no-one cares.

But what if all of that negative space was wrong?

What if there is plenty, of almost everything, for everyone? What if you are contributing enormously to the lives of others, with the simple efforts you make every day? What if 'you' matter more than ever, and it would be noticed immediately if you were gone?

Go ahead, tune me out if you must. Dismiss my positive view as spin. That doesn't make me any less correct.

You see, I've returned recently from the front lines. From the Byron Bay International Film Festival, where my film 'Chip' was screening.

I have seen the sold out audiences.

I have watched them engage with creative work in the way that only film can engender.

I have been approached by audience members and fellow filmmakers, and heard them speak about the impact of my film.

And I have seen the problem. The conditions that exist which give rise to the general pessimism.


That is our problem. The more removed you are from the front lines, from where audiences and your work meet, the more abstract the notion of meaningful work becomes.

The bureaucrat feels small, because they never look into the face of someone they're helping. The office worker never meets a customer who has enjoyed their company's product.

And filmmakers, after toiling so hard for their work, so often never sit with an audience as their film is absorbed.

That is our mistake.

Because I can tell you, unequivocally, that you are all making a difference.

People are more open than ever to being moved by art. They yearn for humanity. They crave the experience of having their world view challenged by a creative examination of the human condition.

And they are showing up, in droves. Paying for the experience, too.

So don't give into the cynicism.

Your audience is out there.

They're waiting for you. Ready to embrace you with arms open.

Will you rise to meet them?

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