Smile Through It II: The Next Chapter

Chasing dreams, because I can

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A crazy two weeks

Posted by Oli on Sunday 28th September, 2008

I was planning on going back over the last two weeks and updating the day-to-day entries of the blog to reflect all that I’ve been up to, but I soon realised that a) I’d be here all day and b) I’m not even sure I can remember exactly when whatever happened to me in the last fortnight happened.

To sum up, if you can’t be bothered to read this entire post, I have started two jobs, started a new screenplay project with a friend, pushed a short film project towards production, acquired another short film script, begun developing a slate of documentaries, watched my brother leave for a tour of duty overseas and won a Charity Times Award with the Life Life Then Give Life team for Campaigning Team of the Year.

So, biggest news first, I guess (apart from the Award, which I’ve obviously already covered), I’ve got a job.  Two, to be precise.

A couple of weeks ago, I was looking for some part time work up to my sixteen-hour-per-week limit to retain my benefits (and beyond which I’d need to work a considerable amount more hours) and noticed an ad in the local paper for a hotel looking for part-time bar staff for lunchtime shifts.  After going over to introduce myself and fill in an application form, I text my old boss at the Theatre in MK to ask for a reference for the bar work, since she was the last person who employed me as bar staff (albeit five years ago).

She replied positively, but then said that if I wanted bar work then they could offer me a job.  Without much fanfare, I went back for a training day a week last Monday and started my first shift of paid work for two-and-a-half years on the next night.

It’s a very bizarre mixture of feelings being back at the Theatre.  On the one hand, it’s pleasantly familiar – I know most of the managerial staff (even if high turnover means the bar staff are all new to me) and also where to find most of the things I need during a shift.  The bars haven’t changed much, apart from some of the stock having changed – Becks to Tuborg, for instance, and the appearance of Magners in the fridges.

At the same time, while it’s a safe and comfortable environment to start back into a working life, it also feels a little like a step backwards.  I’m now back doing what I was doing in 2003, before my work with the Education Department and the Youth Theatres in MK and Northampton and before the experience I gained as a Production Assistant/Youth Theatre Production Manager at the Royal.

I guess the way to look at it is that as long as I have the income I need to pay all of the bills, the Theatre work is only three or four evenings a week, which frees me up to work on my own projects during the day time, for which I have a lot more time free now that K has started at Uni.

Thursday was her official first day and it was a bit of an epic one.  The commute means that we have to be up at 6am to get to the station for 6.45/7ish for the 7.11am train to Euston.  Luckily, looking at her timetable for the term, it seems that she only needs a 6am start two days a week, getting a lie-in on Mondays and Thursdays and having Fridays off.  It is very much an atypical Uni course however, having as it does, a full timetable of lectures and lab time.  Monday mornings and Fridays are all the time she has off, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are all 6-8 hour days.  It’s intimidating for her and it’s going to be tough, but I know she can do it and I’m sure she’ll be fantastic as a Speech Therapist – even if that is four years away right now.

As well as starting at MK Theatre, I also went to catch up with my old Education boss at MK, who has now moved to the Grove Theatre in Dunstable, about 20 minutes down the road from me.  Whilst catching up with her, it emerged that she had another Youth Theatre Assistant position opening up to help out with running the Sunday afternoon YT sessions for the eldest two groups of the Grove YT.

Naturally, I jumped at the chance to leap back into the deep end and get my hand in again.  Last Sunday, I enjoyed my first day working with the YT in the first session of term and enjoyed it immensely.  It’s hard work – much harder than the MKYT, actually – but the young people who attend the sessions offer much greater opportunities for rewarding work.

As well as the Grove’s YT, I have also just started work on the school’s project I’m doing with Suze and her newly minted Catalyst Theatre Arts Ltd company.  At the moment, it’s not 100% clear what my role will consist of, as I’m largely there to support the school and do what they need me to do to ensure they make the most of the project.  It’s exciting for me as it’s the first time I’ve worked and been engaged as a “proper” artist, being seen as a practitioner in my own right and not as an assistant or general helper.

Personal project-wise, I’ve now got a producer on board my short film, which will be going into production over a weekend in early November.  We have offers out to cast at the moment and are hopefully of getting a couple of recognisable names, although it largely depends on their schedules, as I’m keen not to push our shoot dates back.

I went to a Screen South roadshow this week, which highlighted the pots of money on offer for short films in the South East of England, but all of them require the director (that’s me) to have a show-reel of stuff they’ve shot before.  This is a bit of a classic Catch-22, but since this film can be shot for next to nothing, I’m hopeful that even though I’ll miss this funding round, the script I’m developing at the moment will be a possibility for the next round.

I’ve also just started writing a feature project along with a friend of mine who’s as keen as me to get writing again.  It’s a low-budget British horror-comedy which we’re hoping will be quite saleable, or at leat easy and cheap for us to make ourselves if that turns out to be the more likely option.

Beyond the fiction stuff I’m working on at the moment, I’m also developing a trio of documentaries.  Two of them are quite immediate and one is longer-term planning.  One, in fact, I’ve already started shooting a video diary for and am currently working on establishing links with the Armed Forces to see if I can take it further.

It’s been a manic two weeks and blogging really took a back-seat to all the other things I was running around doing, but I’m sincerely hoping that having more time in the day to achieve the things I need to will enable me to keep a more day-to-day blog of the things I’m up to.  I’m aware of how great a resource blogs can be to keep tabs on people and gain encouragement for the kind of life it’s possible to lead post-transplant, so I really do hope I can keep it up.  Please keep checking back and feel free to berate me if I’m lax again.


3 Responses to “A crazy two weeks”

  1. richardpreen said

    Well done Oli, that all sounds really positive. It must be weird back working again.

  2. Di said

    Well done Oli. We’ve been so pre-occupied with your other half that we’ve not made time to catch up on your activities. It sounds as if you’ll need to be able to keep rather a lot of balls in the air at any one time but, given your enthusuasm, I’m sure you’ll manage. All the best …

  3. Hayley said

    Fantastic news Oli well done you brilliant good on you.
    David Hayley and Robert xxxxx

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