Tessa Disclaimer: I think this post is a little self-deprecating in a way I feel like way unfair.
This is Fi writing on THE OTHVRS' blog page about productivity. I'm writing at the time of 2020's lockdowns by the way, and Twattle (eg twattling on; to talk in a trivial or foolish way) is a completely appropriate and non-obscene word I'm using in regards to the title of this post.
I'm writing informally, using the collaborative blog here as my own. We're in the last quarter of the year, and obviously there haven't been many workshops or 360 filmmaking advances taking place here on this website or worldwide. "Some people have been productive," you may say, "Hey Fi, actually some people podcast, blog, and utilise Instagram for career purposes quite consistently, in fact they are inspiring others and offering industry tips from the comfort of their own home! Your ethos, and in fact the ethos of THE OTHVRS is: supporting, platforming, and collaborating together helps everyone and anyone. And as you keep saying, it's easy, simple, and you can do it at home. Where is your content at?"
Well now you've well and truly cornered me there, reader, because everything you say is completely true. Some VR enthusiasts are out there #WFM or living virtually. But here's the thing, not everyone is the same person.
I don't have a headset to watch and play content (I sold my PSVR). I do have the camera, and the PC to make work, but absolutely I do not have the will of an actual functioning person to pick up a project and pre-to-post-production something for fun. Unfortunately it wouldn't be fun for me. I feel like I'm a dentist, and I'm putting pressure on myself to enact dental surgery on myself for practice.
It has been a funny old time. October 2019 and February 2020 I had big, month-long projects in new countries that were VR related and included constant communication, all my technical skills, and a team physically around me at all times. The projects were great, I was very lucky to do this work.
But in these times of hard work... someone else was in charge.
Self-motivation may well be my biggest weakness. I can take time off to do my own projects. But then they will then be untouched for months while I self-efface for not working a "proper job". I left my uni project 1/5ths complete on someone's hard drive, graduated, and let time pass until inevitably the drive had vaporised into the air, never to be found again.
My dream in life is to make interactive projects or video games. When I was shortlisted for a funded game project, two real separate people, producer/mentor-types offered to join ranks if I continued the project, despite the initial financial rejection. The reigns to my fate were handed to me! Two humans were going to help me out push for my dream, put their faith in me... Absolutely nothing happened.
So while time and time again I prove to myself I suck hard when left to my own devices, this time it could be different. Lockdown has provided some free time, pressure-off, and distractionless, funded by the state. I would like to tell you here I made my dream VR projects over the last 8 months, I really would.
This is all well-and-good and forgivable to a point, as any therapist may tell you, however the world isn't just about me and my personal ~*career*~ struggle. Further proving myself a fraud, I also didn't do anything politically.
Guys. I didn't even make one post about Black Lives Matter, and the massive historical upheaval worldwide which continues to seek justice for victims of systemic racism, and those who have suffered injustice under police violence such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. I still verrrry infrequently post on THE OTHVRS Twitter about the Home Office's fervent racism, the Government's foul-ups, or about the fire-safety test rigged by Celotex, the company that supplied the cladding for Grenfell tower.
Convinced of the echo chamber of my social media feeds, the lack of any network I hold, and the absolute distaste I have for using my own voice saying anything without irony or irreverence, I didn't engage this year. I admit... I did engage my dodgily-politicised family in some god awful conversations.
Then moving along, my day job, being an Escape Room Host, was furloughed, and it was God herself telling me directly to hang it all up. The answer was to stop. Stop.... thinking... about.... thinking...
"All your career fantasies are about public engagement and uncommon leisure events. No one wants to do that shit normally. They won't want to do it now."
That's what lady God said to me.
So I said OK. I moved out of the city and took a backpack to Scotland for 6 months instead.
It's only been 4.5 months so far, so I'm lying. But the outcome was me settling in Dunoon, Mull, Edinburgh, Skye, and Glasgow to do a "working holiday" at home-away-from-home. This is possible for anyone (worldwide!) through apps like WWOOF, Workaway, Helpx, Worldpackers, etc.
This also means volunteering at different organisations, houses, or projects for free bed and board. I became a member of the respective households in the 2-4 weeks I lived there. Mostly working as a gardener, sometimes a landscaper, lots of the time I just spent obsessing over my own laundry. Choosing to forget about tech for a bit, off I went to let go, and try new things.
So in going away and trying new things, surely I have learnt something new about myself? Can I make even this blog post useful and productive ?? In bullet points????
Next time, bring the VR camera and take some nice unique videos for stock footage / future projects / to help my hosts out with marketing.
Ugh, I'm glad I didn't but I totally should have done this. The cameras (GoPro Fusion) I usually work with are small, could fit in a backpack or keep on my person at all times. Short videos of really anything could be captured as pleasant memories, if not excellent stock footage to sell online. I could make a nature film with a B-roll of beautiful mountains, waterfalls, and mates bein' cute. Stick someone narrating this very blog post word-for-word and that's a film. What opportunity I had. Absolutely squandered. But with a benefit to my mental health, at least.
I was pretty often "in the moment" and therefore not seeking a frame to film. On reflection, I do find myself considering why 360 video is so special and unique.
One location I worked at was a heavy full-blown house renovation. Imagine if I had captured what it felt like being in the house half-built, half falling down, as it all happened? The house reno people obviously take s***loads of pictures, they're a pretty popular Instagram in fact, but we all know 360 is a novel thing. It can be used for historical documentation. And it's not hard!! D'oh!!
Gardening is nice. Outdoors is nice. I am hardy.
I've never been a camper, a sporty person, or someone who goes for walks on Boxing Day. When travelling up through Hell Island, I socially-distance-camped at my sister-friend's garden for her birthday. On this weekend, I reminded myself of going to Edinburgh with this sweet pal in second-year uni. We reminisced about how I used to think she was crazy for having a hiking backpack and liking walks and climbing as a *thing*. That was back in 2014... how we have come so far.
Here I was going to live in August, and then again in November in a tent in Dunoon. The tent had leaks, tears, a moat in it's "foyer". The kitchen had only two and a half walls. Mud. No windows on the actual house. There was no inside to go to.
But in the end... I was fine. The majority of the time I wasn't bothered, and got used to any uncomfortable bits. Small pleasures were enjoyed proper good. Cup of teas are amazing, sleeping bags are amazing (Sleeping Bag is my S.O.'s name), going on drives is amazing - even if bin-bag fish-juice oozes into the car's upholstery, and the windows have to stay open.
Going off-grid is possible.
On Mull, an isle on the west coast, myself and my partner stayed in a small cabiny type thing on a family croft. It had been bought bare and built up from scratch. The fences, polytunnel, animal pens, the house, and our cabin.
Mull had no signal on Virgin network, and there was no wifi, except when we'd use the family shower inside their house. The one weekend we had free was a washout, gales and rain stopped any ferries to and from the island from moving. I tell you, I read 1.5 of the Fire and Ice series in that little woodburner'd room. Two weeks of 4-hour working days and not excessive amounts of exploration later, I did not combust into flames. I sent a bunch of postcards, sparingly listened to some podcasts and just hung out with Sleeping Bag the whole time, pretty easy. Time just passes on. How about that.
I still love video games.
On my travels I took my Switch Lite with me to play Animal Crossing every day. Without it I would have had one less little thing to break up the day. I still saw everything through the eyes of gamer-gal@hotmail (a previous moniker), comparing uphill walks to Sam Porter Bridges and referring internally to awkward social interactions as failing QTE's. I read all of Blood, Sweat, and Pixels and found my fire for video game stuff flare right back up again. I had tried to shy away from my habitual gamery brain, but couldn't.
It was nice to have a reminder of some passions, at least.
See this video for me all day erryday.
I really hate trying new things and sucking the first time.
Working on the house renovation was very hard. Not physically! Although yes, physically. But mentally it was a struggle.
Big change, new things, new people. Self-comparison, not with VR influencers on Twitter, but now with my own handyman partner, led me to suffer and writhe around in my own ditch of pity. There were a lot of new skills to get to grips with, and all for the first time. I had the normal response - a few attempts before getting it, imperfect execution, people taking some jobs over from me. However this wrecked me every time!
Probably warranting a later revisit in therapy, but self-hatred distils in me at the first hint of failure. Vocational skills aren't art and there are wrong ways to complete tasks. "This is no school," I realised, "People just want the job done right, and efficiently, and if that means I should go do the laundry again that suits them just fine".
Anyway, its a fairly normal reaction. I admire everyone who is nuerotypical and strong-willed enough to not trigger their cry-response when failure rears its head. Perhaps I should be sticking with jobs I know can't do "wrong", stay around people equally green, and go to some courses/practice/workshops of my own before I ruin someone else's 1st fix carpentry.
I can stop biting my nails if I get loads of mud underneath them.
I can make some stuff.
And here we are. Back to the productivity circle. I absolutely ballsed up at doing anything VR or filmy. But, actually, I did stuff. Here are some items made in the last half a year.
And more. :^)
So to surmise, I still am finding a career direction very rough. VR Cinemas can return, I do have a Filmmaking gig or two on the cards, and I can always return to Workaway when I want a break from suffering in the depths of self-pity city. My ideal job jump would be to immersive theatre, event planning and more escape rooms.
Realistically, learning to drive, getting a van and travelling abroad would be suited to the new side of my personality, outdoors-Fi. And yet indoors-Fi is setting up to go again, now sat with her Chromebook inside a roofed, heated, house environment.
There are some things to consider over lockdown 2.0 and my Christmas period. Does my output of "art" need to be for other people to motivate me? Do I just work better in a working duo? Would retweeting opportunities on twitter actually reach anyone without further engagement in communities from me?
Personally, as of now, my to-do list is looking fat and weighty. And no-one will be replying to emails now. So really I should just be focusing on me. Not be """productive""". Just make a blog post. Don't even mention VR once.