Update. I’ve quit my job. Overused, underpaid, and lack of proper management skills on the end of the production house has finally lead me to call it. I’ve been in the media circle for five years now and I’ll tell you right now that quitting a production midway is the toughest choice a professional will ever make. It will, forever be, the one that got away. So I cried a little on the night I told the producer it was over. Sit back people, this is going to be a insanely long post about work, the creative mind, Robin Williams, bipolar disorder, and the choices people in my position must make in life.
I finished my 2 years military conscript on 30th July, less than a month ago. I felt rushed, like I had missed out on a lot in life, and had my entire world turned upside down from my major depressive meltdown last year that nearly took my life. And I guess, even despite my starting of this blog and the open acceptance I showed for my disorder, a part of me must have wanted to move on back to a normal life. And so the week after army, I jumped straight for the first intern position that was hiring, despite the terrible pay and having years of experience with the haphazard work hours. And despite my initial impression that something was wrong with this project that I just entered, I went with it anyway, giving up a chance to intern for Supermodel Me season 5 instead. Dumbest move I’ve made in a while.
At first, I had expected things to go badly on the first week, seeing as how my social and production skills had deteriorated in the pass year. Surprisingly though, in the short two and a half weeks that I worked, everything came back to me. By the first day of shoot, I substituted the Art Director for the entire afternoon, even managing to give advice to the much more experienced director on set. I’ve learned a lot, though not all that they tried to teach me. Mostly because I already knew how, which was why I felt under-appreciated, being stuck with simple jobs when what I wanted to learn was the much more complex set of skills. It’s extremely aggravating when you can do a great job in one hour, and your boss wants you to use his way to do decent job in two.
As to why I left, well it was a multitude of reasons. My personality clashed too much with the art director, making working with him the most maddening thing I have ever done in my life. He needed a yes-man, a person to attend to his whims as his unquestioning arms and legs. I was not a yes-man. I call a spade a spade and would often argue with him about his methods, despite our years of experience difference. I wanted a person who would teach me the advance skills of the set, but he was too proud and busy to do so. In the end, I realized I was doing maximum work for him, since the job actually required two interns and I am just one man (physically at least), learning minimum skills, and being angry while doing so. All these finally pushed me to cross a line. Though not enough to make me quit yet.
Nope, it took a combined effort of poor work condition and bad production planning that finally pushed me over the edge. Our first shoot overshot by four five full hours. For anyone who had ever done film jobs, that is an insane amount of time to overshoot. Added on to that was the low pay, lack of manpower, anger-inducing work conditions, physically demanding days, and extremely long hours even before the shoot date that finally got me to quit. I was pretty much physically, mentally, and emotionally drained by the time I left on Thursday, 21st August, just 15 days after I started work. Which is also why you did not see me update 139 Years. I wanted out of the concentrating circuit for awhile.
He died a week after I started work. I was so overwhelmed by my job that I did not have the time to tribute him as so many others online had. I remember watching Williams first on Dead Poet Society and Patch Adams. He was always the comic, the funny man that made the seriousness of the world a little less tense, and of all the comedians I’ve watched in life, he was the first. My first laugh. And the fact that he suffered from depression and managed to live as long and as fulfilling as he did made me really want to go give him a hug as a model figure. His death shook me more than I thought it should, and I was really affected by my inability to write a proper tribute for him. So here’s a delayed tribute to the great Robin Williams. A poem.
Sometimes a smile is just a smile
And a laugh is just a laugh
Not always a smile hides the pain
Or all our hidden wrath
Remember though to remember us
As we turn your laughs to smiles
Remember to remember us
These moments we show our styles
“Remember this moment!” the great man said
Cause no one else could then
“Remember this great man!” the moment said
There’s no one else since then
R.I.P, Robin Williams
1951 – 2014
LIFE FROM NOW
“Where to?” Aden asked me last night.
I wondered that for awhile now. Though it’s possible for me to start work again, I think it’d be best I rest first. I’ve managed to safe up a decent sum of money since last year, intending to use it for university. But I guess it can be a sustainable reserve for living for a few months. I want to concentrate on my writing, and have 139: In Evening completed and eBook ready by January next year. I’m also planning to shoot a new One Man Production short film on mental illness before Christmas. Get back to my roots and do what I love again. Telling stories.
People who do creative work, especially those that do it well, tends to give it everything they have. So for me, having to focus on industrial production, especially lousy ones, while writing, is insanely hard, if not, impossible to do. I’ve toyed with the idea of a normal job for awhile now. Maybe as a technician or cashier again, as a full time job. Something light on the mind as a way to let me focus on my writing, and have film-making as a serious hobby. I’m also thinking about going into acting. Years of experience faking it, and the ability to cry on cue. Maybe. It sounds nice.
BATTLE FOR MENTAL HEALTH
There’s also this thing with mental illnesses. Yes, the stigma that has once weighted down the world of mental illness have lifted slightly. It can no longer be a stigma if the world is now accepting of it. Or can it? Acceptance of its existence and the understanding of it are not the same thing. I realized that during the work I did. One of the episodes we would film was about a guy who suffered from bipolar disorder since a young age. The director and writer was more than happy to shoot it. But the script and the acting required was not that of someone with typical schizophrenic bipolar disorder. It was something else entirely. The character was portrayed as slightly dumb and delusional all the time when without medication. And the assistant director told me the character would be portrayed as slightly retarded.
I will reiterate. Accepting the existence and understanding it are not the same thing. The stigma still lives. And I was even told not to tell the producer about my condition by my friends. After reading the script, I realized how I would be portrayed in their eyes. We have reached a turning point in the world where a large portion of people have accepted the existence of mental illness, but the fight for understanding continues. Robin and Sharon and many, many, others continue to share their knowledge and experience with mental illnesses, especially depression and bipolar disorders, to help educate the masses. But it does not help that other people, sometimes influential, without knowledge or experience in the situation, continues to pump false information into the minds of people everywhere.
For me, as a writer and film-maker, I feel there is something I can do about it in the works that I do. I’ll continue to write this blog, and to explore more mentally ill characters in my stories and other works. For now though, Timothy Kleve is my only character that has faced depression, but I intend for a few others of my current 139 casts to undergo an experience in the same boat.
And that brings me to my final, short section. 139: In Evening will be back with a new chapter, every Mondays. And 139 Years to the End of the World will be returning every Thursdays. Both will restart with a special two chapters post. Thank you all for your continued support.