44 - I Want More
It’s my birthday, 44. Sounds old, but I still feel young, and am certainly not very mature. Having a birthday on July 1 is great (except that year the GST came in on my birthday and I was working in a bottleshop and people yelled at me because beer went up and I had to say, “Don’t blame me, I didn’t vote for them”). It feels a perfect time to reflect and I like doing it more on my birthday than New Years, because this feels like my special day.
So 43 was a good year, but with 44, I want more. But let’s look back honestly at 43. It started on a sour note. June had not been a good month, I did a play that made very unhappy. There was a cast member who was homophobic and had gotten carried away in a rehearsal and had struck me, hard. I also had that horrible podcast which poked fun at my whole career. The combination of both put me in a dark place, the darkest place I had ever been in - I am so glad I made it out the other end. “After Nightfall” helped with that. I loved filming season 2, set became my happy place. Then there were the awards. It blew me away that so many festivals selected the series, and even better, quite a few gave it awards.
The highlight of this past year came when I took my first trip to the USA. We had been selected at the Baltimore Web Fest and the NYC Web Fest. I was so excited to attend both festivals, my first web fests. I have not really travelled much (besides a lot of trips between Sydney and Melbourne), and always said it never interested me. I said I wanted to travel with work. And it felt like this trip got to incorporate that. Baltimore was first, and I did that alone. But I was not alone for long. The web series community is wonderful and so inviting. I made so many friends, and it was great to hang at the festival and for drinks after (we know I love those). I got to explore the beautiful city and then the series was fortunate to pick up two awards. Then New York was a dream come true. I got to share the trip with so many people I love, my best friend Charlene, my amazing friend and co-star Jacinta, my business partner and friend, Nick, his lovely Mum and our great sound designer, PJ. It was so great just being in this beautiful city and the festival was incredible. Then to win an award, it felt like a dream come true - and was the perfect way to cure my blues. I am so excited to head back again in September to the NJ Web Fest (and see Madonna in Brooklyn). We have continued to be selected and it is wonderful, an absolute unexpected dream come true.
After Nightfall Season 2 isn’t out yet, but we are so close, I really can’t wait for people to see this new season and find out who killed Troy McLeavey. I am really proud of this new season, I pushed myself as a writer and I am so happy with my performance as an actor. Plus the cast and crew really are the best, they pushed themselves so hard and they deserve the recognition when the series premieres shortly.
I also got to tick another major item off my bucket list this past January, I directed my first feature film. The year before I had a brilliant season of my play, “According to Otto”, and I knew it would make an amazing film. So with the unwavering support of Nick, I finished the script, and together we created this film. We shot it for 18 days over 21 days, were exhausted by the end, but had a product we were so delighted with. It is also in post production and I am very keen to see the end result. There’s still a lot of work to come, but wow I am happy.
In February, I did a theatre show, the Sydney premiere of “37 Ways To Say I’m Gay”. It taught me a lot, it taught me that it was time for me to walk away from theatre. I had been making theatre since 2000, quite successfully for a completely independent theatre company, but it was time to walk away. It stopped giving me joy and became a chore. The production was great and I was happy with it, but I had lost my desire to make theatre. If I am honest, I have never felt like I belong in the Sydney theatre scene. I never felt like I was one of the cool kids. I would hear about disparaging comments made about me from people who had never seen my work. There is a Regina George feeling about much of Sydney theatre and I always felt like the fat gay guy from “Mean Girls” (“Don’t look at me”). Sometimes it felt like I was pushing shit up a hill, I still got up to the top but my hands were filthy. It felt like I was being looked down on for producing mainstream work for the independent sector and for being interested in pop culture. The irony being that I was truly independent and I fringe hard! So while I hold a bitterness to the theatre scene, it was best to step away for a while (possibly forever), and I feel good about my decision.
So in 2019 I was committed to throw myself into film work and the decision is paying off. I received my first film funding. Good ole Blacktown Council came through with some cash for a short film Nick and I shot just under a month ago. The premiere is at the end of August and I am excited, it was a fun little project that I think is going to look brilliant. So stay tuned for “Arlo” at a film festival near you.
I mentioned my love of pop culture before, so naturally I have spent a lifetime being obsessed with music videos (when your favourite singer is Madonna, you have to love the medium). I have always wanted to make them, and this past year, crossed another item off that bucket list. I directed my first professional clip, “Heart”, by the lovely Amber Lawrence. I am so happy with it, and people seem to love the clip. Since then I have three more clips booked, including the next Amber clip. Madonna here I come.
There’s been other great things happening, I filmed a role in a great horror film, “Apparitions” - it was lovely to see people have faith in me to play a tough and important role. My teaching work has continued to bring me joy, I teach some of the most amazing young people you will find and their energy and talent warms my heart. I continue to tour Sydney with preschool theatre and love seeing the smiles of the children. And I truly feel fortunate with the people I surround myself with, I have the best friends in the world. They are warm, generous, loyal and loving and they bring a purpose to my life.
So while 43 ended up as possibly my best year yet, for 44, I want more. And more I will get. Watch this space ….