Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Moving On Up and Down Under

I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The bad news is Chris and her handsome family are upping stakes, leaving London and moving back to Australia in September of this year and we’ve finally decided, after months of deliberating whether to keep the company going (difficult at 10,500 miles) make it dormant (paying Companies House an annual fee for what?) or close it down (sad face goes here), we are closing it down.

Sad face goes here.

The good news, however, is that Chris is going home.  She wants the sun in her face and grass under her feet and while that is gloriously possible today in Hyde Park (28 degrees, mid-July, blue sky, blazing rays) don’t try it in February.

London is not the place for a barefoot, outdoor life.

In my generous moments – which I am feeling increasingly – I am thrilled for her.  She will be close to family, her children will grow up as she did, near beaches and relatives and, get this, her husband will KEEP HIS JOB (have computer programming degree, will travel). Of course I have known far less generous moments in which I’ve wept into my chai and stared forlornly out cafĂ© windows, imagining my life without Chris and MYPC. And tried to her run her over with a car (‘THIS will keep you here!”).

But there is no question these four years have been a kaleidoscope of huge pleasures and accomplishments. These are the highlights:

Developed and held four table-reads of Torches, the full-length play about two couples deciding on Guy Fawkes’ night whether to reunite or separate forever, ready for production;

Developed full TV mini-series adaptation and held two table-reads of a Virginia Woolf novel and attracted Billie Piper, now attached;

Two table reads of Sirens, first produced as a one-act now a full length play;

Official selection at In Short Film Festival and the London Independent Film Festival for our first scene of Home Movies for which we raised £4,000, a project which now boasts a fully-developed on line pilot episode;

Two drafts of a film adaptation of Fiona Leonard’s novel The Chicken Thief (published by Penguin South Africa)

First completed draft of Constance Over The Hill, the novel that began as part of MYPC on line.

In all of these creations and achievements we have been supported by our Board of Directors – a high-octane collection of passionate, endlessly enthusiastic and inventive businessmen and women who loved us and our mission to promote women over 35 in all media. The projects live on and the Board, wonderfully, will keep an open door for me and my questions (do I enter this option agreement? can I expand my USP? where is the best place for croissants aux amandes on the South Bank?).

And -  in spite of how my throat clenches and my face tightens into deeply unappealing twitches at the thought of saying goodbye to Chris and our company - I know her going is a blessing. She is forcing me out of the nest. Already, I am finding the confidence and vision that comes from having to stand alone on the new heights to which she introduced me (we have pitched at all the highest levels of television, theatre and on-line production in this city, because of her).  I am becoming the next version of myself as an artist, borne of these four delightful, hilarious, wildly energetic years of us working together.

During our last routine meeting, ensconced in her comfortable and well-loved sofa in the living room that has passed for our office since 2010, I asked Chris what the company had meant to her.

She tilted Tick Tock tea down her throat and thought about it.

‘I discovered work can be fun.’ She looked over the generous green of the high trees in the park below, her voice deepening in a way I recognised as meaning I’m-about-to-say-something-like-totally-awesome. ‘You don’t have to check your soul at the door. If you do that, you’re ripping yourself off, because this –  (spreading her hands out) - this is it.’

And she’s right. Isn’t she right? Isn’t this it? Meaning time is what you’ve got and fuck, make the most of it.

‘I got to be on a shoot. Nothing is more fun than that. And so many people said “yes”’.

Which is also true.  Chris and I were consistently moved, awed and gleeful at the number of people who met and worked with us – from supporters, directors and musicians to producers, publicists and performers. We met some of the most talented and appealing good old people in this good old town. ‘If you’re in a happy world,’ she said, ‘you attract wonderful people.’

More tea and gazing. The sofa sagged, quietly, beneath us (I’m thrilled it will live on in Australia and remind them how often I contributed To That Sag). She looked at me and I could see her examining old mental files, comparing then and now – the time of our deciding to launch the company because it was just too much fun not to. Her leaping out of full-time paid work into full-time freelance life. The most risk, the most glory.

She pulled back the final curtain on her past. Laid it bare.

‘I was sleep-walking through life,’ she said.

(See why I love her?  Which of us has the courage to admit we’re sleep-walking? Then the greater courage to wake up?)

‘And now I’m not. I’m taking all this with me.’

It was a good last meeting, if sad – we finished bits of admin, prepared to close the bank account – and went out for a celebratory chai tea. And if I’m struggling now, as I write this, feeling that lumpy-throat sensation and the hugely oh-so-attractive face-twitching -  it is because as always, in her quiet, consistent, perspicacious way Chris put her finger on the most important fact of what these four years have been about. What, hand on heart, life is about.

 ‘It’s okay to be afraid. As long as it’s exciting, too.’

It’s been wildly exciting. And because of her and Mofardin Young Production Company and everyone who has joined us on the journey, I’m less afraid.

And that’s good news.

Final Board Meeting and Farewell Lunch for the Mofardin Young Production Company Board of Directors, from back left: Richard Baudin (Chair); Julian Eardley (Secretary); Stephanie Young Alison O'Neill (Treasurer); Chris Mofardin, Jenny McCarthy; Della Hirons and our best production yet, Joshua.