Friday, 28 October 2011

The Quest

Chris and I have been waiting to discover whether HOME MOVIES has been selected for screening at ‘In Short’, a film festival promoting the talent of people who live, work or study in Queen’s Park and surrounding neighbourhoods.

There are prizes.

Of course we want to share our work, to promote our cast and crew and to broadcast the company name.

But we really, really, really want a prize.

First prize is good. First prize is your film shown as a trailer before the main feature at the Lexi Cinema on the Chamberlayne Road every night for a week. We could be the warm up act for Tilda Swinton.

This is the prize we want.

All right. Fine. Clarification: This is the prize I want.

Chris, probably a better person, has maintained since February - all through development, rehearsal, shooting and post-production – that she just wants the film in the festival. That would be success enough for her.

I have nodded, aping her humility. ‘Oh yes, yes – triumph,’ I’ve said, while secretly imagining what I’ll wear to introduce our movie the night they undoubtedly ask me to come and talk about our eight-minute short that features one vaguely ataxic character falling over in the street, twice, and another breaking into spontaneous yoga just before they screen ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’.

My big face!! Gurning into an audience who have paid to see Tilda Swinton! This is my quest.

Of course we have only been able to make the film and submit it because 31, count ‘em, 31 people have supported the blighter. Chris and I have been gob-smacked with astonishment and awe at the overwhelming support our WeFund campaign has attracted. We now have 85% of our total budget. We are the heroes racing towards the finish line, heads thrown back, chests bared to the skies, shouting ‘Aaaaaaghhh!’ And, like all great heroic quests, there is at the climactic point, the chance of losing it all.  YES of LOSING IT ALL!! ALL!! LOOOOOOSING AAAAAaaaall.


If we don’t raise the final £600 in the next two weeks and three days, WeFund will cancel all the pledges we’ve received so far.
YES. CAAAAaaaaNCEL!!(echo: caaaaaaaaaancellllll)

They are the Wizards guarding the Treasure that will not be given into our stewardship until we prove our worthiness. WeFunders sit, tender, watchful, as Chris and I run, faster faster faster, keeping our eye on the finish line and on the festival (and on first prize).

Of course we knew that getting into the festival would give us juuuust that much more incentive to run that much faster and attract that much more money.

They were announcing their selection last weekend.

Last weekend I sat at my computer (pretty safe bet, if I’m sitting actually. Chris asked me yesterday ‘What did you do for your sixteen waking hours before you had a laptop?’ and I stared at her. Before laptop?  What is  - this – before laptop?).  I was Skyping. My friend Anna and I were texting away. A happy exchange of Skype texts. Little bits of information and humourous observations, stories and anecdotes when  - another Skype text came through.

‘Beep’ it said.

I glanced up.

It was from the founder of the ‘In Short’ festival.

My heart somersaulted and landed in my knees. I wanted to open it but was in mid-anecdote. What if it was bad news? I’d never finish the story. And if it were good news – well. I’d never finish the story either.

Below is a transcript of that stomach-revolving moment. Anna had just asked how I was:

[22/10/2011 15:31:06] Stephanie Young:  I'm really well, thank you. Having a really fun day with Chris - hardly ever have this kind of time just the two of us. She and I are talking about writing and –


[22/10/2011 15:31:33] Stephanie Young: oh hang on, sorry - message from the founder about the flim festival!

(Suddenly we’ve submitted our movie to a flim festival. This combined with my initials would make for a flim-SY festival to which, quite honestly, we would rather not be invited. My friend, however, understood and wrote:)

[22/10/2011 15:31:40] Anna: Oooo

[22/10/2011 15:31:48] Stephanie Young: I know my heart is racing!
[22/10/2011 15:31:51] Stephanie Young: she's texting me now
[22/10/2011 15:31:58] Stephanie Young: i'm nervous!
[22/10/2011 15:32:08] Anna: I'm waiting

I shifted to the other page and watched the little Skype pencil move as the Founder typed. I saw the text come up, willing the words, crossing my fingers, holding my breath.

And at 15:32 on Saturday, 22nd October the Founder of the festival (whose intern had been unable to get to us on email) wrote to me saying:

[22/10/2011 15:32:05] We said everyone must be told by 3pm today. We saw over 30 short films - and yours is in…

 WE’RE IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We’re in, we’re in. I told Anna, swiftly, that we had got into the flim festival. Again, she understood.

[22/10/2011 15:33:02] Anna: Fabulo!
[22/10/2011 15:33:03] Stephanie Young: I may have to run and tell Chris!!
[22/10/2011 15:33:12] Anna: Go go I have to run
[22/10/2011 15:33:22] Anna: Congratulations!!!
[22/10/2011 15:33:33] Anna: I'll catch you later

I called out to Chris, working down the hall in her office.

‘Have you checked your email today?’ I shouted.
‘No,’ she called back. ‘Why?’
‘Just – just check your email,’ I said.

I typed my thanks to the Founder while I heard Chris pull her chair up to her computer. The mouse clicked a few times. She shouted

‘There’s an email from [HOME MOVIES director] DaveAnderson, is that what you mean?’

(For those of you new to the blog, DaveAnderson has become one word in the offices of MYPC. We say his name so often, it’s just easier. I could waste years of my life pausing that split nano-second between ‘Dave’ and ‘Anderson’ and, I tell you, I’ve just got too much to see and do. Like re-categorise my iTunes library by artist and not album. And whittle.)

'He's written, is it from Dave?' 

Obviously, I wasn't speaking about an email from Dave.

‘Yes!’ I said.

I texted the Founder:

 [22/10/2011 15:41:25] Stephanie Young: I am going to go, run and tell Christine if I may. She's been holding her breath!
[22/10/2011 15:41:29] Stephanie Young: I am so so happy.
[22/10/2011 15:41:35] Stephanie Young: This is great for us .

‘Yes? About - train times?’ she said.
‘Yes,’ I said again, warmly. Hoping she would be distracted by my loving tone and not suspect my forked tongue.
There was a pause. I felt Christine’s eyes squinting from 20 feet away.
‘Why did you know I was going to get an email from DaveAnderson?’

I signed off from the Founder. I heard Chris inhale.  She shouted down the hall. ‘Stephanie. I think you’re lying.’

I giggled. Yes, I giggled. I hate giggling and I hate gigglers but here I was, victim and perpetrator. How best to tell her? The best way is to read the news yourself. The best way is to open the envelope, the best way is to hold the letter in your hands. I didn’t have an envelope or a letter.

I unplugged and picked up my computer.

‘I – I have something I want you to read.’

She glanced at me from the sofa. She’d given up thinking she was supposed to be excited about emails from director DaveAnderson, even emails with which I seemed to have a prescient relationship. She waited to see what I was lying about.

I stood in front of her, brandishing my laptop like the grail she’d been looking for. She blinked at me.

‘Now – it’s Skype,’ I said.

‘When is Skype?’ she said, frowning.

‘Now. This. Is. Skype. It’s Skype this is Skype.’

‘I – I hear that. It’s Skype.’ She paused. ‘What is Skype?’

‘What you are about to read, it’s on Skype so bear that in mind.’

‘What am I – ‘

I pushed her novel to the floor and thrust the laptop into her hands. She wrestled with the machine and looked where my fingers were pointing.

‘Look, you see – it’s Skype. Skype. Skype.’

‘I see, I see, it’s Skype.  It’s Skype. You keep saying Skype. It’s like talking to Rain Man, why is it – ‘

And at that very moment her eyes caught the words ‘We saw over 30 films…’ And I watched her face as the fact hit home and the truth sank in (after three attempts to read the GOOD NEWS! because, being Skype, the messages were not sequential and they are quite hard to make sense of which is why I had kept shouting ‘Skype!’ at her, you’d have thought that would have been enough but Noooo she had wanted me to say “These messages are not sequential”, I ASK YOU.).

And a moment later we high-fived each other. And then discussed tiaras.

And my speech.

If you feel inspired to assist us in our quest to claim all the pledges that have been made by those 31 extraordinarily generous people, to become One of Them, to allow us to reach the finish line, gasping, exultant, teary-eyed - borne shoulder-high by our cast and crew to the Lexi Cinema on Sunday, 20th November to see my face as big as Tilda’s; if you would like to see us triumph before the Hour-Glass Runs Out and the Treasure is Returned – click here:

As little as £5 will get you a perk. We’d love to get you – perky. Thank you for following us and the story of our little film.

(We have big plans for it.)

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