Our February guest blogger is Toronto based filmmaker Danielle Thorn
It started with an email.
They say that hindsight is twenty-twenty, and from my own personal experiences, I know that to be very accurate. You see, this one tiny little email that I sent back in February of 2013 ended up being an email that forever changed my life.
Three years ago I was in my third year of college, completing assignments and reveling over the fact that the finish line was so close I could almost touch it. The only thing standing in the way of me walking across that stage and out into the real world, was the dreaded ten letter word that hung above me like a thunderstorm:
Email after email, cold calls, Google searches spiraling down into a pit of despair! Sure, that’s a little melodramatic, but the whole thing was quite overwhelming and, to my already overstressed mind and body, something that caused a never-ending feeling of nausea to build up in my stomach. Never in my life had I consumed so much Pepto-Bismol as I did in those three months of searching.
After a calm and quiet heart to heart with myself, I realized that shooting The Four Amigos (a web series myself and three others made) was the most fun I had had in my years of post-secondary. I loved being on set, and interacting with the cast and crew, and at the end having a project to look back on and be proud of. It felt less like work and more like play with a very specific end goal. That was the light bulb moment; I wanted to work on web series’.
Through a more refined Google search, I came upon the award winning web series “Out with Dad.” After a lengthy binge watching of every episode available on the YouTube channel, I discovered a video titled “Supporting Out with Dad – a Documentary.” Through this video I discovered they would be shooting season three from the end of March to early May.
Still to this day I don’t know how I feel about fate, but how things unfolded were seemingly too perfect for it to be a coincidence.
The day after my discovery of Out with Dad, I drafted up an email to send to Jason Leaver, the creator/writer/director of the series. Self-doubt ridden, I proof read the email and my resume about a gajillion times, before nearly exiting out of the web browser without even sending the message. Thankfully my internal dialogue reminded me the worst that could happen is he doesn’t respond.
But he did respond, and we had a phone call to discuss the internship. When asked what I was hoping to do on set, I started the bar low saying I’d shadow someone, or be a production assistant, but he had bigger things in mind. He wanted my main on-set role to be Data Management Technician. That title basically meant I would be singlehandedly responsible for ensuring all the footage got backed up onto hard drives. *gulp* When he asked if I would feel comfortable doing that I responded “Of course!”… not! Not at all! Back then the idea of being single-handedly responsible for the entire movie being backed up scared the absolute shit out of me!… But there was no way I was going to tell him that. Three weeks later, and precisely one day after my classes had finished, I was sitting in Jason’s Toronto living room, meeting some of the crew, and helping to prep the cameras for shooting the following day.
In a mere twenty-four days of production, these once strangers became a second family to me. Upon wrapping there was barely a dry eye in the house. Of course, while everyone else was crying because we would no longer be seeing each other on the daily, I was crying because I couldn’t help but think “I’m never going to see these people again!” Or at least that’s what I thought. Turns out we’ve carried on working together across numerous projects, and the friendships have remained.
The journey from my internship to freelancing was one filled with many ups and downs: there were weeks of insomnia brought on by financial woes, days of eating nothing but pancakes (do not recommend), deferred OSAP payments, many months of volunteering on sets (while taking full advantage of craft services), wondering if I ever would be successful, and full days of doing nothing but wandering the city as a way to get my mind off of my worries. On the upside to all of those downs, I had a solid group of friends to keep me treading above water, and two wonderfully supportive parents.
Walking across that stage, that safety net, and plunging out into the real world was a scary transition, but I’ve finally reached the point where I’m living a good balanced life. Five things are for sure: I’m happy, I love what I’m doing, I honestly couldn’t see myself doing anything else with my life, I have an amazing network of friends, and I’m actually pretty decent at adulting*! (*Burnt meals and pizza orders aside.)
Now what about that email? After all, that’s where this whole thing started, right? What did that tiny email teach me? Sometimes these minuscule little moments in your life turn out to be hugely life changing. All you have to do is put all of your self-doubts and feelings of being unprepared aside, and take the leap of faith. Even if that scares the living shit out of you, it may very well be the best decision of your life.
Twitter: @daniellethorny / @craniumcookie
Instagram: @daniellethorny / @craniumcookie