Summer Breaks Are Not Just About Rest

So the end of the year got away from me. School reports happened and I also assessed Year 12 exams in my subject for the first time. My son turned one. He also learned to walk and has begun the process of making being cute while destroying the house his full time occupation. There was Christmas and all that jazz. Between all this and the usual kind of stuff, November and December in particular evaporated. But I don’t need to tell you that right? It seems to happen to us all.

But then you come out the other side, take a few deep breaths and you get to relax. And whatever I might have said previously about how taxing teaching can be and how much it takes away from my creative time it does have one great advantage: I get almost the entirety of January off.

So with all that time, what’s been happening?

In a word: Filming.

So I had a little sketch-based web series I wanted to do. Those of you following along at home will know this one, it’s the one I challenged myself to write ten scripts for in ten days during July. The premise for those wondering is this: Two identical twins sharing a house together. One is a long-suffering teacher (yeah, not autobiographical at all, right?) and the other is the evil twin. Like as in the literal evil twin, wants to take over the world and rule it (if he can get off the couch long enough).

The sketches cover a few different things. Some of them are about the Evil Twin’s schemes and attempts to develop his supervillain brand, with the Good Twin often pointing out the holes in them, in particular the various supervillain tropes that his brother can’t help but ape. Others are about the Evil Twin needling his brother in some way. Some take a look at the various villains of movies and TV, and there’s another set I want to do where the brothers answer questions and give advice to the viewers from their very different perspectives.

Essentially it’s an odd couple dynamic with both acting as a kind of foil for the other. One has always done the right thing and been part of the general system of our society, but hasn’t exactly won any prizes for it. The other is trying to blow that system up (sometimes literally) because he sees its flaws, but can’t see the flaws in himself. It’s not intended to be as deep as all that, mostly it’s about poking fun at evil genius tropes and the like, but I like to think that there is a little bit more to the characters than their mutual snark at the failings each sees in the other.

So since the year ended this has been my creative focus. There are currently 12 episodes that I have slated to shoot. And it has amazed me how much prep work I’ve had to do. You see, I play both twins. This means that there needs to be a lot of planning around how things will be shot, because in order to get both twins in at least some of the shots I have to do the split-screen thing, acting each side of the conversation and then stitching them together. So this has meant doing a pretty comprehensive shot list to pre-plan the thing before I do it. Then there’s the other parts. Costume, props, set dressing. Learning lines. All of that was two weeks work.

All of this before I even turned the camera on.

But I’ve enjoyed the challenge. Being (quite literally) a one-man show takes a lot of energy, but I am learning a lot. So far I’ve shot four of the twelve episodes and I hope to do at least one more before I am back at work, then do my best to knock off some more in the evenings in the first few weeks. I’ve set the goal of being able to submit the series for consideration to Melbourne Web Fest this year, which means having at least 2 episodes fully complete and available by March 31st. Obviously that is on paper quite achievable, but assumes that I can get all post production ducks in a row, launch the channel and all the rest of it. I am quietly confident, and it gives me some additional incentive to keep moving and work to that deadline. But ultimately I would rather not make the deadline than put something that still needs to be worked on up in the public sphere.

And, as has been noted elsewhere on this site, time is still a precious resource, even while on holidays. There’s only so much that can be done. After all, the kids are on holidays too and they need to be entertained and looked after. My one year old boy is at a stage where while he’s awake¬†he tends to need someone with him, either because he is clingy or because he needs to be prevented from turning the house into a smoking ruin (I love him so much, but am not entirely sure that he isn’t Gozer The Destroyer in an even cuter form than the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man). My partner needs the support and relief from the solo parenting that she has to put up with during my working year. And she has her own writing and career building work to do. Her career is further along than mine and so we try to focus on giving her as much time as we can.

So as always, it’s really all about making best use of the time available. Creating in the pockets that can be found. The boy goes down for two naps a day (sometimes he even sleeps on the second one) and that gives us both 2-3 hours of working time. We can usually alternate as the on-call parent for several other stints during the day, but for obvious reasons no filming can occur until the kids are in bed. So while I would like to have been further along in the filming process at this point, I was always realistic about my chances.

And hey, there have been other important things to take care of. One part has been exercise. I didn’t take the best care of myself physically in 2016 and I’ve tried to use this month to get a start on getting back into shape. Then there have been a few other house projects. My favourite was the sand pit I dug out for the kids. Took a few mornings of work before the heat of the day set in, but we now have a great little pit for the kids to use. The little fella seems intent on eating all the sand we put in there, but I’m sure he’s just getting his essential roughage and silicates.

So moving forward, it’s all about the web series at the moment. Although I do have some plans to carve out some space and time to start noodling round with that novel I talked about previously…

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