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The Eleventh Hour...

Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh! I made it! Dis monf was a skruggle chile!!! I feel like I was so creatively tapped and blocked, just through, but I pulled it together just in time.

I guess the questions you have if you’re reading this are:

1. Why the block?

2. How to overcome?

Let’s start with question #1. The why is a little hard for me to pin down, but if I had to guess, there are a few contributing factors. Coronavirus is definitely at the top of the the list. And not Corona itself, but what Corona has done. It has limited interaction (so no actors), limited proximity (so no locations), and mentally and emotionally, the uncertainty of the situation has made it a difficult adjustment, creatively. I also had some personal things that I had to deal with, like having to care for a preteen full time (only for like a week, but still...) and trying times in one of my friendships.

I actually attempted to use the friend situation as a creative launchpad. I even shot a couple scenes with the help of my virtual DP, Colbie, but for some reason, it didn’t feel right. And honestly, I was extremely self conscious about my acting, so I scrapped the idea.

I went back to the drawing board, thinking hard and often about what I could create by myself. Another idea I had, was to use a piece I’d written as a base and put some shots of myself to that. I recorded it and started conceptualizing shots, but still, it didn’t feel right.

Now for question #2. How to overcome? A professor once told me, when you’re stuck creatively, just do until you figure it out (I’m hella paraphrasing).

So after what felt like wasting away the entire month of May on thinking and changing my mind, I finally shot something on May 23rd. I was like, okay, I’m back in the game, coach!!!

I took a look at the footage and felt like I had something to work with.

And to backtrack, I got to this point by coming up with the title first. The title honestly came from how confused and lost I felt creatively, but I used it as direction for the film, asking myself, “How can I visually represent this feeling of perplexity?”

I put some serious pressure on myself by starting my editing process on the 27th...yes, THE 27TH!!! In my defense, I was leaving Chicago on the 26th for two weeks, so I had to make sure everything was taken care of before my departure.

Now, the 27th; I assembled a cut with the footage I shot. It was pretty, but boring. I left it alone and enjoyed cocktail hour and dinner with my good good Judy, Jessica. Somehow during our time on the porch (maybe it was the Blue Dream), it came to me to use everything I’d been seeing on IG as an overlay; to mimic how much content my eyes and my brain consume in such a short time. And because of all the racial injustice that transpired this month with Ahmad Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Christian Cooper, and most recently, George Floyd (and many more), much of my TL was (and still is) filled with these indecent incidents and the state of Black people as a result. So that night, I did a screen recording and plopped it into my editing sequence. I was onto something.

Here comes the 28th, and with it, the pressure to finish this film on time, but I’m ready. I decided I needed more, so I did two additional screen recordings, then I restarted the editing process, beginning with the audio. I wanted the audio to be cacophonous, but also harmonious. This part took me the longest...I’d guess somewhere around 4-5 hours. Once I figured that out, I started incorporating the screen recording, purposely using the scrolling to create that feeling of sensory overload. By the time I got to adding the footage I shot, it didn’t seem to fit anymore, so I quickly scrapped the idea of using it. By midnight (a little after actually), the film was finally done! HALLELUJAH!!!

I didn’t intend to make what may be perceived as a social justice piece, but being obedient to the creative process led me to what is now May’s short film, a look at how I and others, especially Black folk, take in so much trauma, and willingly do so to make our voices heard, to process, and every now and then, in the midst of the bullsh*t, we find some peace, or at least some distraction. I’m proud of that.

Lessons Learned:

  • Just do it - Do something. Shoot something. Write something. It doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to be for anything. It’s simply to get the creation rain moving.

  • I have a bunch of filters that I just decided to play around with. I layered them and created cool effects, which helped spark my creativity.

  • Rest - Give your mind a break. Give your eyes a break. Step away from the project at hand and turn your attention elsewhere. The “thing” you’re trying to figure out may come during that moment.

  • Consult - Ask others how they push through. I posted the question on IG and got a lot of great responses on how people cope with creative blocks. It helps to know you’re not alone in those times.

Things to keep doing:

  • Going.

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