Without a doubt, this has been the biggest year of my life.
The year began with a bang, with the first screening of my feature documentary directorial debut “Red White Black & Blue” on January 13th at the Idyllwild Cinema Fest in California. It won Best Documentary. All the hard work of the previous year (on a film I had loved making) had paid off already.
The film would go on to play in more than 10 festivals around the world and here in New Zealand at the Documentary Edge Festival.
Amidst all the excitement of screenings and awards, I was editing (and sometimes shooting) for Annie Goldson and Kay Ellmers’ “He Toki Huna: New Zealand in Afghanistan”. It was a complex political edit originally packed into a TV hour and later unpacked to a much needed feature length edit. Beautifully shot in Afghanistan by Jacob Bryant with powerful interviews from Jon Stephenson, Nicky Hager and Mike McRoberts.
Before this was even finished, our “Red White Black & Blue” crew (Anton Leach, David Green and – taking my place – Matty Warmington) were on their way to China to meet coach Stuart Krohn and his students to shoot the sequel “Lost & Found in China”. I was also pleased to help the talented Amy Taylor online edit her beautiful documentary “Soul in the Sea” at some time during all this. And some how managed to cram in a few corporate jobs as well…
Did I mention that we were homeless during this time?
The renovations we were having done on our house took 4 months, which meant for 7 weeks my wife Nat and I would be couch-surfing (I say “couch” surfing, we were actually afforded some fairly plush spare rooms by some very generous friends). When we returned to the house, there was no electricity, gas, or roof over half of the house for 3 weeks. Thankfully my highly organised wife took care of almost all of the building logistics involved in adding an extra bedroom, a new roof, an extended bathroom, a new deck and some fairly extensive rebuilding on some ailing exterior walls.
Did I mention that, all of this time, Nat was heavily pregnant?
The extra room was for our baby girl who was born on June 27th just a week shy of construction on the house being completed. I had thought the first half of the year was quite an effort, but witnessing Nat’s pregnancy and birth gave me some perspective on what effort really is. I was happy to be working at home on “Lost & Found in China” so I could be there to be with the most beautiful baby in the world, and to be an extra set of rocking-arms to help calm her colic (she is delightfully recovered now).
I wrapped the edit on “Lost & Found in China” in November (a tad later than expected, what could possibly have delayed that I wonder?) and have begun working on Julia Parnell’s Rethinking Rehab. As I began this new and inspiring project, I found out I had been nominated with Annie for Best Documentary Editing on “He Toki Huna: New Zealand in Afghanistan”.
And just this week… we won!!!
So, on reflection this year was about doing everything and running myself ragged to do the best job I can. While it has been a wild ride I’m committed to slowing things down in the new year, focusing on family and enjoying my little girl as much as I can. I’ll be a stay-at-home dad 2 days a week when my wife returns to her job saving the world, and in the remaining 3 days a week will try to focus on one project at a time!