While making my first feature film “Living with Strangers” in 2013, I struggled a lot with finding help to make the project. I remember back then feeling very frustrated by the process. As with all my projects, the budget for the film was extremely low and therefore I was relying on a way to capture people’s imagination, passion, and of course work ethic. Unfortunately, it didn’t always work and in reflecting back on my approach, I feel like I spent a lot of time chasing people’s attention and consequently not enough time working on my own path. During the project I worried a lot that it would fall part at any minute and ultimately because of my determination and stubbornness it didn’t. What I learned from that experience is that I could make a film with a skeleton crew and despite it being a lot of work, I could certainly pull it off. I carried that attitude right through to my second feature, and ultimately first VR project “I Am You”.
However, when I worked on The Key and then Circuit Rider subsequently after that everything started to change. A lot of people in the VR community in Toronto knew who I was and when I told them about the projects, they offered to help in any way they could. In reflecting on this more deeply, I don’t think it was about popularity but rather a shift in my attitude about being open to allowing people to help. I certainly say that I wasn’t as open as I am now and I think that has become the real difference from my approach to team building.
A close friend of mine once told me about their experience walking the Camino de Santiago and it really stuck with me. They told me how they would constantly run into people along the journey and some people would start to walk with him and at some point they would stop.
At that point, he would decide whether to stop as well or keep going. That metaphor for his journey really resonated with making narrative work, especially in film or VR where a team can really elevate a project. It made me examine how alone and afraid I can feel that I can’t make my projects unless I had a team. That’s when I decided that I would walk and keep walking, and whomever was interested could come along with me on the journey.
So in essence, I built the team for Circuit Rider by putting out the intention that I was going to make this project and people were welcome to join me in helping to create it. Finally, I haven’t stopped working on it whether people show up to work or not, I just keep moving and that keeps the team moving with me. It’s the best advice about making creative projects that I have ever received.