I just got off of a two hour zoom call about a film I just starred in. What a weird thing to write, especially after the past couple years. Part of me had started to believe that my days of filmmaking were over. The days when I would shoot weekly skits by myself, or shorts with my friends had been left in the past. Burned in the wake of Winter Solstice and the train wreck it left behind.
It was as if that project had stolen from me, not only my desire to create, but also my faith in myself. It was a cross that weighed me down and stole from me that which used to bring me joy. If it wasn't for a call to work on a skit at North Lake and running into Justin, I might never have picked up a camera again. He put me to work, first editing music and event videos, and then filming them and eventually even directing. It was a weird time in my life when I wasn't moving anywhere near my goals in life, but at least I was being creative.
I don't know how much of a stretch it is to say it saved my sanity, if not my life. Creating gives me a sense of fulfillment. Without which I fall into a state of deep depression. Which is where I found myself just before the zoom call, but we can get to that in a minute. I didn't start writing this to talk about how my brief sojourn into the world of videography, but since I'm here, why not?
The time spent working on those projects kept me sane. It kept me creating and as long as I was working on them, I could tell myself I hadn't given up. It was a beautiful lie, but one I was desperate to hold on to. I even did some acting during this time in my life. I was still playing the roll of myself, even if I no longer felt the drive that had burned in me my whole life. That fire was still quenched. It was a problem that I felt in my very soul, but had no way to overcome. If it wasn't for the fallout of our final project together, I might never had gotten off that ride. For the first time in my life, I was making a living creating, it may not have been what I wanted, but it was art, and I was given a level of control. At least on the surface.
Alas, things came up, and I started to find the working relationship unsustainable. Not with the disrespect that was thrown my way. I had no choice but to walk away. As I did, I told truthfully, that I wished to spend more time working on my own projects. Blueroof productions had gone dormant. Had all but died. I wished to bring it back. For the first time since Winter Solstice I had a desire to create. I felt like myself again. I even had a new job that payed me more than enough for my needs. I was set.
Except that I quickly ran out of steam. I don't know what happened. I had all these ideas and as soon as I had the time to create them they vanished into thin air. I was back in my world of despair.
Which is about when I got the call to work on what I thought was a skit. An old friend asked me if I still acted, I told him sure. He put me in touch with the director. Before I knew what was happening I was doing a cold read and got the part. Before I knew it I was on set once again. No more music videos or filming events. No more corporate videos. I was back doing what I loved. I even managed to get some work on the film behind the scenes. I felt alive again in a way I hadn't in a long time. It was great.
As the filming came to an end, I started work on a short with my crew. It was a tiny project that could be filmed in a night. Yet once again, a project of mine came crashing down. It had to be called off, at least for a few weeks due to some of the cast. It happens, it's normally not a big deal, but it shook me. All the newfound confidence I had was gone. Once more I found myself lost in a sea of despair. I would come up with ideas of things I wanted to create and then sit around trying and failing to motivate myself to bring them to life. Ever since I could remember, I had always been a self starter. Somehow that part of me had died, and I have no idea how to bring it back.
Which brings me to the zoom call. I was sitting at my desk, working. An incredibly slow night, there was no money to be made, when my phone went off. Reminding me of the zoom call. I had missed the last one, due to me being in the homeland on vacation. That's a story for another time. So I figured that I should jump on this one and see what updates there were. Just a change of date for the screening, but it got me thinking about how much fun I always have on set. How much fun I have when I'm creating my own worlds in my writing. I don't know if I can ever recapture that joy and drive I had before Winter Solstice, but I know that unless I try. Unless I start forcing myself to create, I'll never know for sure. Sometimes motivation can't be found, it has to be created by sheer force of will. I just hope mine is strong enough.
We are all creatures of our experiences. Good and bad. They make us who we are and form our views. They create the foundation for which we build our lives and interact with the people we meet along the way. Most of the time we don't even think about the many different steps along our journey that landed us in the spot we are in. We just keep putting one foot in front of the other until we meet our maker. Never really stopping to see what an amazing journey we are all on. There is a great sadness in that. I can't help but think that a life unexamined is a life wasted. I was always taught that God put us here on this planet to grow, to learn. To become a better version of ourselves. How can we hope to accomplish that if we don't study the path that we have traveled? View the mistakes we have made, the harm we have caused. How can we be better without learning where our weaknesses lie? Yet this too is a trap that far too many of us fall into. We obsess on our flaws, and forget to take stock of our strengths. Forget that what we have done right, the people we have helped and the lives we touch in a positive light matter just as much, if not more to some degree. It's human nature to build up the bad and diminish the good. This is not a design flaw in human beings, it is a survival instinct that kept us alive for millions of years. Yet it is one that we no longer need to be enslaved too. We can start to shift our perspective to the good, while not losing sight of the bad. Only in balance can we hope to elevate our understanding, not just of the world around us, but of ourselves. Which just might be more important. Far too often outside forces attempt to shift the focus of our attention. They highlight the bad to diminish our light. To soften the fire that burns inside us, so that their light can be seen more clearly through the dark. This too is a survival instinct, formed in a time when basic necessities of life were scarce. Others build your flame up, so as to take comfort in your strength. That too is a survival instinct and it too is something that needs to be overcome. Validation is only useful when it comes from within. Otherwise it is just another goal we chase after our whole lives and never actually achieve.
So this past week I was on set. Not of one of my projects, that will come soon, or even of a friends. This was a new set, with a new crew. Like I said in an old post, I was nervous of showing up. I've been battling depression for the past few years. I've been more or less running away from all creative endeavors. Not because I wanted too, but because I was living in fear.
So, how did it go being on set again? It felt great. I felt alive for the first time in years. I felt almost like myself again. This is what I needed, what I want more of. I'm going to find the old Jonathan, and enjoy some of the fun that he used to love so much. Life is short, let's enjoy it.
One week from today I'll be stepping foot onto a set for the first time in a long time. Now I've filmed some stuff for myself these past couple of years, and I've filmed some shows and concerts since then, but not a film set. Not a narrative, not someone else's in a long long time.
It's a weird feeling going back to that world, and part of me is so nervous. Although, to be fair, I've never done anything like this before. Normally when I work on other people's projects, it's behind the scenes. It's helping to make it behind the scenes. My roles in front of the camera in other people's projects tend to be small roles, supporting roles, or in projects made by friends. On this project I know only one person. The DP, a good friend of mine and the only reason I agreed to work on this project.
I'm hoping this is a good, fun experience that ends with us having a fun movie, but at the same time, I'm just glad to be going back into the world. Since Winter Solstice I've withdrawn from the world. I've stopped trying to create art. It's time I get back into it. It's time I stop hiding from the world.
I'm going to be actor, and only an actor in a movie for the first time and I'm excited. I'm going to do everything I can to make it as great as I possibly can and use that momentum to get my projects moving again.
The past couple of years have been hard for all of us. A time of growing and experiencing new things while just trying to stay above the oncoming tide of pain the world keeps throwing at us. It seems like a never ending shit show. Every time we start to move past one crisis another starts up. It's to the point where it seems like we can't even catch our breath anymore.
Covid of course being one of the biggest hells we have had to face. Each and every day we get news of the latest death toll, the latest case numbers. You walk through the town and see people wearing masks. You feel the sense of panic the moment you hear someone cough. It's all too much and it never stops. One thing after another. With the news stuffing it down your throat every chance it gets.
Sometimes I can't help but wonder if the world will ever get back to normal. If we will ever be freed from this nightmare. But then I remember that this is what the world is. It's a challenge that we have to get up and face each and every day. There will always be obstacles in our path, but we can't let them defeat us. We can't let them overwhelm us.
Life is cruel, but we can't let it make us cruel along with it. We must always remember all the blessing we have been giving. All the good that life has to offer. There is so much good out there, if we just remember to stop and pay attention. Far too often we get lost in our own thoughts. Our own way of looking at the world we forget to see what is really there, and how are actions and inactions affect other people, and when we see something we've done wrong, we need to own it. It's far too easy to erase it, or bury it, but there is no growth in that.
I was adding episodes of Clean Jeans to the archives and I came across the episode #101 Our School Conspiracy, where me and Ashley talk about the shooting at the school. I still remember that day like it was yesterday. Events like that don't just happen, I guess unless you live in America, then they tend to happen a lot. Ashley wanted to skip school, I wasn't taking a lot of classes, so I told her if she skipped, I'd take the day off. To this day it is still one of the luckiest decisions I ever made.
I started getting calls and texts a little after 11 that a shooting had happened at North Lake, it happened in the art gallery, a room I was normally in around 11. At first that part didn't really hit me until I talked to Ashley about it. Once I did the truth of how different my life could have been if I had gone to school that day hit me. It would have been bad. It could have been the end. That's not a moment you get a lot of in life.
Maybe in part that is why we made light of it on the podcast, as a way to alleviate our own stress and shock at what happened. As a way to take power back from a sick twisted kid who stole a poor woman's life right out from under her. Either way, we shouldn't have done the podcast, shouldn't have really talked about it.
I've spent most of my life calling out police when they mess up, and I stand by they did a horrible job with this. They allowed an armed man to run from where the shooting happened to the other side of campus when they were so near. Maybe I thought I was pointing out police mishandling yet another case, but this involved the death of a fellow student. Not everything needs to be discussed, to be examined. Sometimes it's okay to have thoughts you leave unsaid, that's something I'm still trying to learn. I really hope our words didn't cause anyone any pain. There is too much pain in this world. Too many people trying to hurt others just for the sake of hurting others, as if it is some kind of sport. I don't ever want to be that person, and I hope that I never was.
I thought about removing the episode, but decided against it. It was a mistake that I made. And something that I have to live with. It would be too easy to just erase it and rewrite history as if it never happened, but that would be a lie. I made the episode and I regret it, but it happened. I decided to leave it up as a reminder of bad choices I've made and my promise to be better.
It's a new year, what better time to start a new page and try and be better, but we shouldn't wait for new years, or for others to call us out on our mistakes. We should spend everyday trying to be better than the day before and we should always call ourselves out for our past blunders. So that's what I'm doing. That's all any of us can do.
I hope this new year is better for everyone. I hope this new year we can put the pain of the last few years behind us. We can start to find our way back to normal, even if it is a new normal. With regards to Covid. With police reform, I stand where I always have. The whole institution needs to be torn down. We don't need to return to normal in that aspect of life, because normal never worked. It's time we stopped pretending that it did.
Depression is a horrible monster that steals your life away and when partnered up with its friend Anxiety, it prevents you from even attempting to break free from it's hold. So how do you fight against it?
Hell if I know. It's something that I have been trying to figure out since December 2019. Every time I think I start to break free, it drags me back down. I thought the answer was to focus on my own work, and I still think, by and large that that is the right answer. I walked away from every other project that I was working on for other people, burnt some bridges while I was at it. It was what I needed to do for my mental health and for my art.
The other day an old friend asked me to act on a project he was filming, I agreed, thinking that it would be good for me to get back out there and would only take a few days. Turns out I agreed to at least 3 months of filming every weekend. More time away from my own work and any ability to make money on the weekends. Why do I keep agreeing to things to make other people happy? What is so broken inside of me that I can't just say no to people?
Whatever it is, I just can't seem to escape it. So much of my life seems to be trying to take care of other people so that I one day have time to work on myself and things that I care about.
With that being said, I am buying a new laptop so I can start editing again. Even if I committed myself to someone else art, yet again, doesn't mean I can't find time to focus on myself. That is a mistake I have made far too many times. This time, here and now, I'm going to do what I need to in order to fulfill myself creativity.
Life is all about change. It's about figuring out what works and what doesn't and giving yourself not only the space, but permission to make the changes that can bring about real change in your life. Just make sure it is change for the better.
Sometimes the things that need changing are the people in your life. Just because someone has been a good friend for a long time doesn't mean you need to keep them in your life forever. That's a lesson that was hard for me to learn, but learn it I have.
The last month or so, I've cut a lot of people out of my life. Something that I have been trying to do to one degree or another for years and almost the second I did it, my life got a great deal better. It was as if a giant weight had been removed from my shoulders. So, if someone is holding you back, tearing you down, no matter who it is. No matter how close you used to be with them, just remove them from your life. You'll be happier for it. Trust me!
Figuring out a schedule can be a pain in the ass. When you run your own life and have no actual boss, every choice you make is your own, but also have to make sure you get enough done, but don't burn yourself out.
I have a tendency to overwork myself until I burn out and then go weeks if not months doing almost nothing. This is not productive or useful in the least. I need to find a way to make a schedule for myself that is sustainable. That will advice me in my goals without crushing my spirit.
It's just a matter of give and take. A matter of finding out the right mixture of fun and work. Of paid work and passion work. Of isolation and socialization. Life is a juggling act. It's the cost of freedom from a regular job and I wouldn't have it any other way.
So I have grand plans, the grandest plans this world has ever known! I'mma watch four movies in the theaters over the weekend. Starting today. Now, I know, I know your jealous, but it's okay. You'll find your happiness somewhere, I honestly believe that.
Okay, Okay, I know I'm being a bit much, but it has honestly been a long long time since I've been truly happy. I would wake up and just walk around for a while, trying to convince myself that things were going to get better, but I didn't really believe it, not till I made these plans and found that I was actually excited. I was actually looking forward to it.
After that, it was like a flood gate opened and everything was more enjoyable. I feel alive for the first time in over a year and a half. Life is good!
Life can be good. It's been a long time since I could see that. A long time since I woke up feeling good about life and where I'm at in my life. Today was such a day. Cutting out of the people in my life who went out of their way to tear me down every chance they got made a world of difference. Recommitting myself to my art has lightened my mood and put me on the path to being me again.
Sometimes it's hard to cut out people who hurt you, for many reasons. Sometimes it's because they have been in your life for years, other times it's because you know they are going through a hard time and you feel a need to protect them, even if it costs you your own well being, but sometimes you have to be selfish and do what's best for yourself. You can't always put everyone else first because after a while you start to lose yourself.
It wasn't an easy lesson for me to learn, but it is one that I now take to heart. Life is too short for negativity, you have to surround yourself with positivity, with people who want everyone to succeed and don't see others doing well as threat to themselves. Believe me, it makes a world of difference.
Jonathan Gutheinz vents about everything under the sun.