Tuesday, January 12, 2016


So, where was I?

Momentum can be difficult to sustain between years. Let's start fresh.

Now, I'm not about to belittle us both with boasting. What follows is simply a statement of fact.

There are few better ways to start off the year than for your film to win at The Australian Academy Awards (AACTAs).

Before you get clever, the Oscars are in February. We received word in the first week of January, which is legitimately the start of the year. Our film, 'Chip' had won one of the short film awards at the AACTAs.

And then, a peculiar thing happened.

In the midst of our elation, and with our focus very truly on a tastefully small, but meaningful, celebration, the same question bombarded us from all sides.

'Where to next?'

We had literally won the award that day. I tried to handle the inquiry tactfully, with something like:

'To the bottom of a bottle of champagne, if I'm honest.'

But still the question followed us.

I suppose it's a fair query. These awards are truly only useful in the sense that you leverage them for a greater purpose. As much as you or I might watch the milestones, most people are only really interested in where the bus is heading.

That being said, not even twenty-four hours to feel warm and fuzzy about it?

More voices joined the refrain. 'What happens next?'

By this point, days later, I had a more carefully constructed answer. Something about drinking with possible collaborators at the AACTA Awards events, and garnering more interest in our projects. It seemed to be the requisite mix of humility, ambition and pragmatism.

But as it always does, life provided a very different answer.

I was innocently checking social media. Catching up on the triviality. A familiar face appeared.

'Vale Mark Juddery'.

Mark was one of the first people I met when I started pursuing filmmaking. He was a freelance journalist and author of humorous novels. We drank tea and chatted at a Screen Producers' event for emerging filmmakers. From then, we just stayed in touch.

He traveled a lot. A perk of being a travel writer. I started making films and slowly finding bigger audiences. We would catch up whenever there was time.

Eighteen months ago, the big C hit. He thought he could beat it. He assured us he had no intention of succumbing, but every intention of milking as many free lunches from his diagnosis as he could. Many of us gladly obliged.

Things went quiet. That's the way it is. If you've known anyone affected, and you statistically are likely to, it's this period of silence that signals the struggle isn't going well.

And then, he was gone.

He was given a proper farewell. The chatter quietened down. Life went back to normal.

But that question persisted. Every time the subject of the AACTAs came up.

'What next?'

We received our AACTA Awards invitations. Suits were pressed. Fashionable friends consulted. We knew that we faced a week of late nights and hangovers, but that's why god created 24-hour McDonalds.

The day before our first AACTAs event, my phone rang. The voice of a good friend. He sounded unsure of himself.

His mother, Lisa, had passed away. An extraordinarily kind lady, who had been a positive influence to me through those formative years post high-school. An important personality, whether she knew it or not.

The next morning I stood, in my AACTA Awards grey suit, and I listened to my friend farewell his mother. I paid my respects and got in a cab.

Thirty minutes later, I was on the red carpet.

Momentum is a powerful thing.

I navigated the week, hearing that same question from film and television industry people, over and over again.

Until it was quiet again. Just me and my contemplation.

I thought about our terrific start to the year.

I thought about Mark.

I thought about Lisa.

I thought about what any of our conceits and achievements mean in the broad sweep of it all.

And I thought about that question. That question which can either undermine or fortify your resolve, depending on how comfortable you are with your answer.

Does any of it really matter, if our life simply ends in a flicker? Like magnesium. Bright, intense and then nothing?

As you embark on this year, facing choices and consequences you couldn't have imagined, I want you to know the answer to this important question.


Yes, the milestones all matter.

'What happens next?' is an important question. It's a meaningful question. Something that you should ponder before this year has well and truly gained forward momentum. Because you are in a position now to make choices that will shape your experience for 2015, and possibly beyond.

But always remember what Mark and Lisa imparted.

Goals are fine. Achievements are a validation.

As long as you savour the journey too.

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