2019 has been quite some year. There have been many great achievements and accomplishments. But, accompanying the proverbial rough of the smooth, there have been disappointments and challenges too.
Let’s start with the smooth. This was the year that we officially launched MsMono and I have been wonderfully surprised by the support and love we have had for the company. I knew that Rebecca and I shared a passion to make (and see) more female centred stories but it was great to discover that we are not the only ones. We have met with some amazing like-minded women including Script Editor Janet Awe, Sienna Beckman at Emergence Films, Polly Kemp at ERA 50:50, ITV’s Saskia Schuster, the founder of Comedy 50:50, Claire Broughton formerly of Hat Trick Productions and now at BBC and the BAFTA and Emmy winning producer Hilary Bevan Jones. We became incubator members at MeWe360 and were paired with BAFTA winning producer Nadine Marsh Edwards and Oscar Board member Tendeka Matatu. The MsMono Friends was established; a community of collaborators made up of supportive companies and organisations. And, our MsMono Blog now features dozens of articles from a diverse collection of female voices.
We shot That Girl, Peugeot, our latest short film which is currently in post production with completion expected early next year. The film was MsMono’s first co-production which saw us working with Oakhill Europe, West One Entertainment and MeWe360. We announced our next project: short film, In Line, which will begin development in the new year and is scheduled to be completed by Summer 2020.
Web series Celibate, has become TV comedy series Game Changer. Written by me, it features Thanyia Moore in the lead role and is being considered by several TV production companies. This is quite an achievement bearing in mind 18 months ago I struggled to receive a response to my emails! I have grown in confidence tenfold and after years of doubt and reservations know I have a place in this industry and that the work I want to create is worthwhile and important.
Now onto the rough this year has presented me with or the more accurately renamed ‘character building challenges’.
2019 saw me take on my first professional production as a producer working with a twenty person cast and crew. Now, as any producer of an independent short film knows, your role is incredibly involved, and I was faced with a multitude of tasks, responsibilities, budget issues, shoot delays, scheduling problems, hungry crew and location concerns – all of which I had to figure out.
These experiences taught me two things: 1) making independent film is incredibly hard (and rewarding) and 2) to ignore the initial mild panic because I am all more capable than I might think. Yes, for me, it was tough at times. Yes, I got 8 hours sleep over the 3-day shoot. But I did figure it out AND surprisingly enjoyed the pressure of it all. So, when I am faced with the next challenging situation, rather than think, ‘Oh no – what am I going to do?!’ I’ll be thinking, ‘I can do this. I thrived last time so I can do it this time. Now Slay Queen!’
I was also reintroduced to the integral but equally despised ingredient of any creative’s journey – disappointment. Disappointment sucks. Hard. It can make you doubt yourself. Question yourself. Wonder why you don’t give it all up and get a job in a trendy pop-up café. But disappointment is not the end. And, more importantly, you cannot avoid it. If you are doing something worthwhile, you will be disappointed – fact. So, you need to figure out a way to handle it. It could be taking a break, eating a sweet potato then starting again tomorrow (as suggested by our friends at Bounce Cinema) or taking a day off to watch repeats of Ugly Betty and then getting back to work (as suggested by me). Whatever your method of coping with disappointment, know this: whoever you admire as a Director, Filmmaker, TV Screenwriter, Producer, Show Runner, Fashion Designer or Spice Girl, they have faced and overcome disappointments too. They kept going, and if you want to achieve anything worthwhile, you will keep going too.
If I could sum up this year using an Instagram-able little phrase it would be this; ‘just because you haven’t done something before, doesn’t mean you can’t figure out how to do it…and do it well’. Believe in yourself and if you need help, ask for it. Oh yeah, and disappointment hurts. But it doesn’t last forever and in a few months’ time – it will all be forgotten.