In the Red?

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We all procrastinate, but is your Procrastometer sliding into the red and stopping you moving forward? Break through the block and get into the black. 

No more procrastinating

Every year for years, I would stick our photos into an album.  As a family we would pour over the good times, re-celebrate the highlights and neatly forget the duff stuff. Who wants to remember that anyway?

But with digital we started taking tons more photos than we used to and random e-folders of holiday pics, birthdays, parties, selfies, mad stuff, beautiful stuff and Special Stuff now jostled for space on the hard-drive. Of course the intention was still there: at the end of the year, make an e-book. What’s not to like? Our own hard-backed glossy coffee table book of all the good stuff of family life. Once I’d organised those folders it would be a piece of cake, upload the pics and Bob’s your uncle.

But could I get round to it? A year went by, then two and all of a sudden it was coming up for five years! Now, I’m normally pretty good at knuckling down to something, but here I’d hit a massive wall. On my Procrastometer I’d gone so far into the red the needle was bending. I told myself, how wonderful it would be to look back on all those years, how important it was for my children to have it, how when I’m old and forgetful I’d be able to reminisce on how wonderful life was back then.

But could I get myself to do it. Nope. I absolutely could not get my butt into gear. Fortunately I was training Coaching Students with Carole Ann and her Pure Coaching Academy and we were focusing on Procrastination one week. The students were going to coach us for practice and they asked me if I had something I was procrastinating on. Didn’t I just! Such is the power of coaching that after 15 minutes they’d broken the doomed project down into manageable chunks and helped me create a vision for moving forward. Having someone hold up a mirror to my dilly-dallying did the trick.

That weekend I made a start. Little by little sorting through the folders, selecting pictures. Over the following weeks I moved them into the book creation software and gradually it began to take shape. 440 12 inch square pages crammed with all my favourite images. It took four months doing it in any bit of spare time, and this week the massive tome arrived in the post.

It’s glorious in it’s completion! Pages and pages of fabulous and colourful images. I compared it to my Vision Scrapbook I started 8 years ago, made from torn out magazines images and phrases of my dreams, goals, wishes and desires. Looking in my family album I see how many of those dreams became a reality- travel, film awards, happy family time, special moments with my grannie in her final year, the allotment we have created from scratch.

As a coach I know that procrastination does us no good but here was proof of all the good reasons to get on with stuff. It’s never too late to get started, just make that first step. It’ll be worth it for how good it makes you feel and we can all do with feeling good.

If you are procrastinating or stalling on making those dreams a reality, why not get a coach. It makes the difference between doing and dreaming. Lou Hamilton is a filmmaker, artist and coach. She founded the Create Lab Studio as a Hub for Creativity that Matters.

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Kings Cross

RISE: Northern Film & Media scheme supported by Creative Skillset’s Skills Fund and in partnership with Women in Film & Television and Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art

One of the hardest things about being in the creative industries is the ability to keep going in the face of obstacles, brick walls, blind alleys and dead ends. What helps people to keep on keeping on, to go at it for the long haul? Well, a bit of support from time to time doesn’t go amiss. Recently I have been given the opportunity to take part in RISE, a development scheme for women screenwriters and directors. There are six of us and over the course of the next 12 months we will be given support from Northern Media and four top industry professionals.

Last week we had our first residential; two workshops over two days in York with script editor Kate Leys and film director Josh Appignanesi. It was a safe environment for us to rip off our sticking plasters. The message was clear and sharp. To improve we need to get to grips with what works and what doesn’t, and when it doesn’t, we need to use the tools they give to us, to kick-start our project to the next level or to disentangle it and take it back to its roots. They gave no promises that it will be easy, told us there are no shortcuts and warned us that it will take guts to stick it out. But if we’re willing to do what it takes we just might have a chance. A stark truth but actually incredibly encouraging. This is not Black Magic, it is a craft and that means we can become Masters of it.

Being creative means pouring heart and soul into our work, so sharing it with our contemporaries and industry-respected mentors was to place ourselves in a position of vulnerability. But in order to grow and learn and develop a better practice it was something we were prepared to do. We had to give our work willingly and we had to listen to the feedback with an open mind. It was sometimes uncomfortable to learn, and painful to recognize that something we have spent agonizing months or even years on, still needs work for it to be the best it can be. The insights of those with specialist experience were invaluable and we came away with a deeper understanding of ourselves and of our work, a different perspective on the path ahead. We realized more of what we don’t know and the mountain before us now certainly seems higher, although this time as we inch ahead we have a rope to guide us.

Master Builders understand well that without good foundations and structure even a beautifully designed building will fall down. The reason Rome is still standing in all its magnificence is because it took a long time to build and it was built well. The film industry grew from audiences’ insatiable appetite for visual storytelling. It is up to us filmmakers to build rock solid practices that allow us confidence in the originality of our voices and in our ability to tell our stories in unique and powerful ways. We all need the courage to persist against the odds in the pursuit of creating well-crafted films that people want to see.

No, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but the vision paid off in the end. So too may it for us six women as we rise up on the shoulders of our filmmaking forebears and strike out towards the Silver Screen of our dreams with our stories and our visions and our spirit of curiosity, patience and determination.

Lou’s Blog

Create Lab was founded by multi award-winning filmmaker Lou Hamilton to make films that matter.  Her films aim to find inspiration in challenging subjects, in the darkest of experiences.

Lou is fearless in pursuit of her work: a mountain in the Himalayas, a mosquito infested Yoga Ashram, funeral pyres on the Ganges, Arnhem with the British Paras, a Jamaican funeral parlour, the municipal dump of Mumbai, coast to coast along the Hadrian’s wall with a man in an off-road electric wheelchair, schools in Africa and adhoc classrooms on street corners in India, the Yorkshire dales with traumatised soldiers, the training ground of the Royal Marines, the isolated rooms of an old people’s home, the colostomy dressing changes, the music room of a hundred year old Maestro riddled with leprosy, a blind ashram, a blood transfusion centre, to the beaches of the D-day landing, the interviews of a human right’s lawyer who works in a Darfur, a woman war correspondent based mainly in Afghanistan, a woman soldier fresh back from Iraq, the poppy day parade at the Cenotaph,  the slum dwelling of a little boy and his mum. You can share these experiences too by watching some of her films.

“There are two reasons I loved working on the film “Desire Of The Pit-bull Warrior”; firstly is because I really believed in the script and thought the premise of two people being from completely different backgrounds but still being able to connect, help and inspire each other was very poignant. Secondly, director Lou Hamilton’s relaxed, naturalistic approach to filming was amazing, allowing me to improvise, ad lib and try different things with each take.”  Actor. Shaun Rivers

“Love the film on Indian classical music – you have a skill that nourishes those you film and those who get to watch- it’s about the pace and lack of intrusion and the fact that you don’t patronise anyone.” AB. Edinburgh