Recently, the ever-friendly Ross from manvsadulthood.com tagged me to complete the 10 unusual things about me tag – so here we go! Let’s launch right in…
I have had plastic surgery, but you’d never know it from looking at me. It was emergency plastic surgery when I was ten, because I flew spectacularly off my bike on my mother’s birthday, and landed chin first at the bottom of a hill (sort of blacked out for a moment). Let’s just say: visible jaw bone, lots of blood, hospital transfer, surgery.
My stomach may or may not be in the wrong place. I’ve always struggled with acid reflux, and this could be the reason. There’s no point finding out whether it is or not as long as I can manage the condition through my diet and lifestyle! I’d definitely rather put off the camera-down-your-throat thing for as long as possible.
My name and birthday basically define my personality. I say this because I have a very literature-infused name, and was purposely named after 2 Jane Austen characters (my surname was a coincidental 3rd Jane Austen character drop). Then I managed to arrive in the world on the anniversary of the end of WW1, and now I’m at university studying English literature & history – two subjects I very much enjoy.
I hate my birthday. Yes, I am one of those. My birthday, in my opinion, is rubbish. It’s mostly to do with the time of year, rather than the actual fact of getting older – mid-November is a miserable time, it rains every single year (I dislike rainy weather), I spent my 16th birthday in silence all day because I had mock exams that week, I have never been able to go on holiday over my birthday… I could go on.
I would like to believe in ghosts, but I’m not sure I do. My family has a joke about our friendly house ghost, who seems to have followed my parents from their first flat together to their first house together to the house where I grew up. From hiding a packet mix to dropping a shoe in the hallway to tapping us on the shoulder when we’re the only one in the room, there’s been a fair few inexplicable ghostly moments over the years. We like to joke about it because it’s never anything horrible, so it’s like we have our own version of Casper the Friendly Ghost who just likes to remind us of his presence every now and again. Having said that, I don’t know if I actually believe in ghosts in any other circumstance.
I’ve never had a pet, but I am friends with a stray cat. At home (i.e., not where I live at university), there’s a very muscly stray black cat. Over the past five or so years she’s become a regular visitor to our house – she didn’t understand the idea of being stroked at first, so she’s always liked to jump and headbutt us instead.
I get hayfever – but not consistently. I can spend 6 months of the year needing hayfever tablets, or I can spend the entire summer absolutely fine with no symptoms at all. It makes no sense.
As a baby, I never crawled. I was a bit of a late walker, but I basically went from hardly moving on my own to just getting up one day and walking off. NBD.
I looked younger age 19 than age 12. I blame a really bad haircut & acne for this.
I have a minor weird fear of things that are a lot bigger than me. Really tall buildings, whales, that sort of thing… Just makes me a bit uncomfortable really.
Meditation, to me, has always been one of those things that sounds so… kooky. I’ve never found occasion to use that word before, but this felt like the time. And it’s true – sitting down with your eyes shut for extended periods of time? For what reason?
And yet, meditation is definitely having its vogue moment. Easily for a couple of years now, really. And I’ve dabbled before – I downloaded the Insight Timer app back in my first year of university and used it somewhat sporadically. My streaks never lasted more than a few days at a time, but I must have found some benefit in it if I kept going back.
Skipping ahead to last month, I downloaded Headspace. You can get the subscription for free when you have a student subscription to Spotify – something I did already know some time ago, but at the time I couldn’t figure out how to get the accounts to link (oops). But I figured it out this time and decided to give it a go.
I don’t know what I expected, going in. I didn’t immediately decide to try it out for a month, but after it gave me this cute little image for having done 3 days in a row, I checked out the little ‘goals’ part of the app, where it tracks you as you reach certain milestones. 1 day, 3 days, 10 days, 15 days, 30 days, 90 days, 180 days, and 365 days. I figured I’d start with 30.
Headspace has ‘packs’ of meditation sessions – there’s a few Basics packs, of which I completed one, then they have Creativity, Managing Anxiety, Happiness, Productivity and more. There are also ‘singles’, which are of varying lengths and are intended for while you’re walking, or times you feel overwhelmed, things like that. Finally they have ‘minis’, which are all three minutes or under and are great for that spare couple of minutes where you just need a breather.
You hear a lot about the supposed benefits of meditation – as a stress reliever, as something to help you learn about yourself… And I guess I did learn some things. I definitely learned that deep breathing makes me yawn, and that was one of the biggest obstacles for me. I tend to naturally breathe through my mouth rather than my nose (weird, I know… I’m one of those), so concentrating on changing that is a challenge. My lungs are a little big for my ribcage as it is – it’s hard for me to take full breaths, which I don’t often notice on a day to day basis, but the deep breathing you do in meditation definitely made me more aware of it. My mum used to have that too, until she had kids and her ribcage expanded a little because of pregnancy.
I know a lot of people meditate to become more in tune with their body, but what I realised as the month went on was that I’m already pretty in tune with mine. I have to be, to some extent, because of my hypermobility. I tend to know which parts of my body are more tense, or inflamed, or strained etc. fairly intuitively.
What did become clear is that sometimes, my brain is just super busy. It can be hard to slow it down and focus. What I did find quite amusing was that, for some reason, the number one thing my brain wants to do while I meditate is play catchy tunes in my head and dance around a little. I wonder what the psychoanalysis of that would be!
I also started off with the intention of doing a session every morning, but in reality I think I spent most of the days putting it off until the evening. I found it really difficult to bring myself to meditate when I get up in the mornings, but going forward I would like to make myself do it then. The days I did, I think it’s safe to say I felt the benefits more.
So what was my overall experience like? Well, I didn’t have any major revelations. I don’t feel like any entirely new person, as some people claim. But I did find it to be an oddly enjoyable pastime – considering how bustling life can be, and how many of us nowadays rarely have a moment of silence, what with life happening all around us and listening to music/podcasts/audiobooks while doing a whole host of things. It can be quite calming to have those few minutes of stillness.
I don’t know if I’ll continue to meditate every day… I might do – the app reminds you each day at a time you choose – but it seems like a nice thing to do when your brain feels a bit too busy, or you’re a bit too stressed.
A few days after I uploaded a post about having a bit of a quarter life crisis, wondering how to go about preparing for life after university, I heard back from an application I’d sent off – one of many positions I had applied for despite having absolutely no qualifications for – for an (unpaid) internship at a film production company in London.
I got the email on the morning of Thursday 19th July. I had a phone call with someone from the company that afternoon. The following morning I met the same person for a coffee in London. Later that day, I got a call: I’d secured the internship!
I started on Monday 23rd July. Safe to say it was a quick turnover!
The ironic thing was that I’d planned this entire summer with the belief that my applications would go nowhere; I had made a huge summer to do list (it was colour coded with 7 categories) so that my time at home wouldn’t be wasted. And to cap it off, I was supposed to be visiting Brighton for the first time on the 23rd-24th July. Instead, I woke up on the Monday morning, packed a bag, and hopped on a train to London!
The internship lasted four weeks, two of which I spent working in the office, and two of which I spent working from home. And in this post, I’m going to tell you what I did, what I learned, and how I view the experience now it’s over – so sit tight, it’ll be a long one!
I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous to start. I felt totally like an imposter, because it’s only fairly recently that I decided to actively try to pursue a career in film. I wasn’t in any sort of film club at school, I’ve never really made short films, I’m not great at managing to get to the cinema very often. But I was determined to get started somewhere.
As it was my first day, I was asked to come in an hour or so earlier than the usual start time in order to get my bearings and be set up before everybody else arrived – an actress was coming in promptly at the start of the day to discuss her new film that’s in the works. So, I arrived about twenty minutes early for my early start time and got lost, then tried to open the door the wrong way, and when I got up to the office, I opened my bottle of lemonade and it fizzed everywhere. Off to a great start. A little later, I met the man in charge of the company, and actually didn’t realise who it was at first – it was a brief encounter during which I didn’t catch his name. It was about an hour later that I actually came to realise who he was!
The week got off to a bit of a slow start; they didn’t quite dump me in at the deep end as I was expecting (the approach I’m used to!), instead my workload slowly increased as the days went on. I made a couple of trips to the post office and the local shops for some food for the office. Set up trays for meetings. Some of the stranger tasks I was asked to do included Barclaycard research for the owner and shredder research.
The more exciting tasks I was given in this first week included script coverage – something I’d not heard of before: you’re given a script to read, then you write up ‘coverage’, which includes the important stuff like who it’s by, how long it is, the genre, whether a producer/director is already attached, and a synopsis and evaluation. This was great for me, because it gave me the exposure to scripts I’ve been dying for – and I was completely allowed to run free, essentially, and give my opinions and critique.
In my first week, I also did a little bit of invoice logging, which involved a very complex-looking Google document buried in Google Drive, lots of numbers, and much scrolling. I formatted a production diary for the film in development. On the Friday I was tasked with researching possible rehearsal locations. Oh, and at some point I walked backwards into a table while greeting a guest.
In my second week, my supervisor was away for the first few days – and somehow, I was to fill her shoes around the office! After only five days there, I really did feel thrown in at the deep end. This meant that I was supposed to get trays ready for all the meetings, greet all the guests, make sure people had what they needed… and do all the other stuff I was given for my internship role!
On the Monday, I was tasked with merging dozens of PDF contracts with another document – which, it turns out, is a rather difficult process when you don’t have Adobe Pro. I ended up screenshotting and pasting a LOT. It wasn’t the most thrilling part of the internship, sitting there exporting things into PDFs and renaming them and replacing their old counterparts in the Drive file, but what’ll you do. Part of the internship deal, I guess!
On the Tuesday, the owner actually gave me his debit card and pin and asked me to get a load of cash out for him. This felt particularly “am I actually in a film?”. Oh, and the dishwasher was broken at this point and nobody knew how to fix it – the others in the office didn’t have dishwashers themselves, and so they had to call someone in to fix it. Only thing was, he had to semi-flood the kitchen to get it fixed, so when the owner came out of his meeting with the actress, I had to explain to them both why there was a load of water all over the floor… That was fun.
The rest of the second week involved more script reading and coverage, a couple of PRET runs, restocking the kitchen… I also did some contract formatting, film location research (for a part of the film involving wedding in either France or Spain, and a quirky house in residential London) and, more excitingly, I delivered a film to a distribution company! This literally meant that I was given a big, bubble-wrapped package, hopped on the tube, went across London, had to get buzzed in to a company building, and handed it over. Despite the fact this was the middle of the heatwave in central London and the tube journeys meant I was really sweating, it was a good moment.
Weeks Three and Four
The final two weeks, as I said, I was working from home – production was starting on the new film, and it was a very small office and lots of people were coming in. I was given a new email address, research-specific, because they’d been impressed with my research abilities so far. Some tasks I was given included finding contacts for certain people in the industry, including a high profile makeup artist who worked on Harry Potter. I had to look up where to buy personalised director’s chairs, I did more location research, research for a product placement and into branded gazebos for the filming, and research into street performers to be in a particular scene on the south bank. I also had further opportunity to read more scripts and complete coverage on them – one of which was on a bit of a tight deadline as the owner of the company was about to head into a meeting with its writers!
So, what did I learn?
After the end of the four weeks, I was definitely happy with how much I’d learned – I’d known going in that to work in a production company in this manner, being involved with the pre-filming stages of films, wasn’t going to be where I want to end up, but it gave me some really valuable knowledge. I left the experience with an idea of how films come into being from conception; I got the opportunity to read and critique professional scripts – which may or may not become films in the future – and work with people who had been in the industry for a while. I got contacts, and most importantly, I got my foot in the door.
It’s a well-known idea that the hardest part of forging any career is when you’re starting from the bottom, so I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity – and to have something to talk about and to use when I try to get positions in the future. My ideal positions would involve working on-set (I still want to write scripts too, though!), and that’s where I think I should focus next.
For now though, it’s back to university for my third and final year – which I aim to make the most of! There’s been a chat going on on Facebook for a good few months now, set up by a guy trying to revive the film society at Liverpool, and it’s looking really good, so that’s definitely something I’m excited for this year. I’ve also got my eye on an online course about the business of filmmaking, too – I’m hoping it’ll be on over the Christmas/New Year period, because seeing as I’ve got no exams for my third year, I’ve basically got 6 weeks off at that point!
Feel free to let me know what your career aspirations are – and let me know whether you’ve had any luck with getting your foot in the door yet! Internships, work experience, an actual paid position – anything.