Having spent half my life obsessing over lists, plans, ‘what could go wrong’ notes and a small library of just-follow-your-dream books, I always thought about taking the time to read, write and make films properly. Full time, even just for a while. It always seemed fanciful, what other people did. Less successful people, less important people. Not me.
A number of things have changed my mind. One of the more notable was coming across a notebook, probably six or seven years old, in which I had scribbled film concepts and short story plots as a sixth-form student. The imagination, the variety, even the vocabulary was far better than anything I have developed over the past couple of years. I love my job and I have been incredibly privileged to have it, to travel with it, to learn through it, but as with many careers it leaves little room or mental energy for creativity.
In 2019 I will be leaving my current job, leaving my adopted home here in Paris, and for at least some of the year I will be focused full-time on creative ventures. I am absolutely terrified. I do not want to leave my profession behind, and I am already very excited at the prospect of returning to it once I have taken some creative time away. I look forward to learning how to balance all aspects of my life. There is no reason why focus on a non-artistic career should hinder creative endeavours. There is no reason anybody should be too tired to write, too stressed to read. When you are at home in all parts of your life, you are better in all parts of your life.
I am very grateful to be in a financial and professional position to be able to take ‘time off’, especially to spend on the (sometimes frighteningly expensive) pursuit of filmmaking. Many people are not so fortunate. If there is one thing we can do to make society a better place, it probably involves some collective re-focusing on what is important to us all. Our professional lives and what we can achieve as teams, groups, companies are incredibly important. So too are our creative outputs be they musical, artistic, theatrical, literary, as a photographer or a social media journalist, whether your audience is your family or friends or the masses. It wouldn’t be wise for me to say ‘quit your job and be an artist’; I neither believe that nor want to say it. Just take everything you want to do and be in life, and make sure that it all goes into defining you.
Sometimes it takes a hard reset to break old habits and allow you to forge new ones. That is what I am pursuing with this 100% creative interlude between lawyering. I want both roles to be a part of my life. I want to make some great work and return to the professional fold with new energy. A hard reset is just that – hard, scary, a breakdown of your ego. My mental health and I have had an interesting relationship over the past three years and with that I lost some of the energy that a younger me, the student that wrote a whole notebook of ideas in a summer, the ambitious lawyer on his first day, the guy who decided to move to France, once had. Now that I have taken the first leap I can already feel some of that energy returning. I’m really not preaching that everybody should do the same, just asking if the world could be patient while I try.