GORGE – Can it Get More Personal Than This?
Last year, when 2020 changed how we live our lives, I let my body and soul atrophy. It was a difficult period and also, as it turned out, an opportunity.
My partner and I lived in a tiny studio in London, unhappy with the big city and craving the place we used to call home. When the pandemic hit, we realised what's important to us; to live where we're content. In our case, Scotland; close to our friends and family.
Come July, we packed our possessions in a van and travelled north. It soon became clear it was the best choice we've made in recent years. Despite the pandemic, living in the land (As well as a much, much bigger crib) that feels like home, is nurturing to the soul. Something we both needed.
Moreover, the pandemic offered another opportunity; to study for a master's degree. This is something I wanted to do for a long time, but postponed it because work took up most of my time. With the pandemic, though, the time was now there.
Studying for a master's is being a fascinating experience. Most of my later education has been hands-on; from electrical engineering to filmmaking. As part of this course, though, I got to do new things, like academic writing. At first terrifying, then highly rewarding.
This being said, the most valuable experience I've received from this course, is making GORGE, a short documentary with me in its front and centre, where I explore my life-long fight with a compulsive eating disorder.
This is a film I never expected to make. It started with me having to pitch in class a concept for a short documentary. Considering my limited access to subjects due to the pandemic, I turned to myself and my plight. The pitch went well, and my project was picked.
Luckily, prior to making this documentary, I had worked on a number of short films where my priority had been to bring out, from the fictional piece, emotional truth. Therefore, when I directed this very personal film of mine, I did so with such ferocious honesty, some would label me insane.
And, that's okay. I'm glad I approach my craft in this way. The experience of making GORGE informed me both as a filmmaker and as a person. I learned things about the craft, as well as about myself and my condition.
Of course, the film wouldn't have been possible without my small but talented team. Jo Osborne, whose cinematography captured my most difficult, private moments with grace and beauty; Christopher Belsey, whose score superbly expressed the inner life and pain of my struggle; and last, but definitely not least, Guy Hassell, who took the raw material I gave them – unrefined carbon – and turned it into diamond.
Guy spent hours upon hours shaping and refining my story, and in the end created something wonderful. An exceptional example of storytelling, and something which has informed my understanding of my own condition.
I'm enjoying sharing our film, and my very personal story in its core, with the world in festivals, and I'm looking forward to seeing what's next.