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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Cause there isn't...

"I just wish we talked about story more. And I wish there was a place in Canada where they encouraged that.

Cause there isn't."

Those final - almost hopeless sounding - words, coming from a successful writer like Mr. McGrath, sting a bit. I'm not entirely sure why they hit me the way they did, but it's the kind of hit where your eyes start to blur and you ask yourself "what?"

My grandfather and my dad have been a strong influence in the person I am today - even if they're not really aware of it. As my gramps would say: I've "got a lot of fire in my belly".

And somehow Mr. McGrath's comment threw a bag of coal into the furnace.

I don't get it. Why aren't there places like this in Canada? Why don't people talk about story more? Why isn't it encouraged? Is it that people are uninterested? Or is that we haven't started the conversation (or made it interesting enough)?

When I first got into college for 3D animation and design they told me "This is a wonderful, exciting time, full of opportunity and great possibilities." By the time I graduated those same teachers were saying "Well, we're working for free just to have jobs - good luck!" And then I was promptly spit out into the world to make my fortune.

It didn't matter that I'd made the Dean's list every year and graduated with honours, it didn't matter that I was one of a handful of people to get an internship at an actual animation house. The industry looked at me and went 'meh'. The market was oversaturated, I was now a dime a dozen and my 'industry training' was becoming more and more obsolete by the day (we used Zip Disks 'cause CD Burners were still too expensive to implement en masse).

Everywhere I went they told me I wasn't needed and that there were other people with more experience who would do my job for the same pay or less.

So I took what I knew, what my training had taught me, what I was passionate about and rolled it into something new: Promotions. I had the design side of things down pat, I had the social skills to meet people and I had raw, unbridled determination. I spent $80 and registered my own business: Canadiana Promotions. Dedicated to promoting Independant Canadian Musicians, Filmmakers and Artists, I ran that business on nothing but gumption and raw energy. I met countless amazing people and for a whole year, it was mine - my baby. The site has since lapsed but you can view an older version of it thanks to the Internet Archive: here)

I learned a lot about myself and the world in that year and, while it inevitably failed - there is no money in promoting Independant Canadian Artists... a need, yes. Money, no. - I learned that if I didn't like what I saw in the world I COULD change it. But I had to do something other than bitch about it. I've learned the hard way that anything other than action is lip-service and I can sit here writing for days about how I want my world to change, but unless I get out there and do it, no one's going to do it for me.

When my business closed I looked at my life up to that point and realized that through it all there was one constant: my writing. I've had all sorts of jobs in my life from Paperboy to Door-to-door sales (don't do it kids!) to editing intern (glorified janitor) but through it all I've always found solace in my writing. My ability to make my own world and tell my own stories, stories that my friends and family truly enjoyed. I began to wonder if maybe that was my calling, if that was what I was meant to do. And so I began to learn. It hasn't been easy, calling up people, asking for advice, being ignored for years but it's paying off now. I'm getting better, I'm getting stronger - I still have an nigh-infinite amount to learn, but I am learning.

I am still passionate.

Passionate. And sometimes foolhardy.

I had written a whole rant here - probably pages - that pretty much bordered on calling for anarchy; about the frustration I feel when I see people who are much higher up the food-chain complaining about how the system can't be fixed. Truthfully, it bordered on me talking out of my ass and being a completely disrespectful dick to people I've barely/never met and who've been far deeper in the shit than I ever hope to be. Just for writing that-which-I-won't-be-posting, I will apologize to you all.

I know that my anger and frustration are not mine alone, but it makes me wonder: If the people that I respect and the people they respect can't affect change to a system we all agree is broken then what the hell am I to do?

Are we truly so powerless?

I've decided to keep one small line of my original rant and it is the maxim by which I choose to live my life:

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world" - Mahatma Gandhi


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