Adjusting the sails, when you can’t direct the wind

June 11, 2020

Collage created by Hannah with images from Pixabay

Hannah Phelps describes how she is overcoming the lockdown challenges she faces on her final film project

It still seems so crazy to me that I am living through a global pandemic. Something I’ve only ever seen in disaster movies and TV shows.

I think the level of uncertainty is what scares me most. Not knowing when it will end, how it will end, or even how many people will die because of it.

During these uncertain times, our communities are coming together. It’s been heart-warming to applaud our key workers each week, to show our appreciation. They really are the heroes who keep Britain moving, whilst putting their own lives on the line.

I’m in my final year at university; myself and other students were hit pretty hard, as our last year of study came so unexpectedly to an end. Emotional goodbyes to our friends, mass confusion surrounding our final projects, and a general feeling of sadness filled the air as lockdown struck.

My heart rate increased as summer plans, future dreams and prospects dissolved. My nights have been restless, and regularly disturbed with anxieties about not being able to see friends and family. When I do sleep, I sometimes wake up with a gnawing in my stomach, and feeling like there isn’t much point in starting my day.

Slowly I’m adapting to this new environment, adjusting the sails, as I can’t direct the wind! I have started to create a schedule and routine for myself, not that I always find it easy to stick to.

Due to the pandemic, filming was impossible. I was heart broken. I felt awful letting the crew down.

I’ve been studying Film at university for the past three years, and we were given complete creative freedom for our final projects; amazing. From September 2019, I’ve been working hard; researching, planning, and writing a short film. My script explores five different female friendship groups, who range in age, social background and life experience.

I wanted my film to be representative of the diverse community I know, love and grew up with in north London. I planned to examine and emphasise cinematography within my film; specifically the lighting, colour, and mise-en-scène (design) aspects, which I am particularly passionate about.

Collaborating with creative people and building a trusted team, committed to the project, gave me great confidence. With plans to begin filming mid-April I was so excited to finally bring my vision to life.

Due to the pandemic, filming was of course impossible. I was heartbroken. I felt awful letting the crew know that shooting would no longer be possible.

My deadline was extended to mid June. The last couple of months have been a challenging time, adjusting my initial ideas and concepts. Spending long periods inside, under lockdown, has also suppressed my creativity, let alone my productivity.

I’m gradually managing to change my mindset, and be more positive about what the future holds

Being isolated from my course mates has been hard too. I definitely work more happily and effectively when I can bounce ideas around, and receive feedback in person. This crisis has made me feel incredibly anxious, more than ever, about my future.

On the upside, my personal supervisor, for my graduate film project, has been incredibly supportive. We speak regularly over Skype. She has inspired me and helped me reshape my project.

Subsequently, I have started to plan and create a video essay, where I talk in depth about how my film would have looked. I’m using examples from films that have influenced me greatly, such as Sofia Coppola’s ‘The Virgin Suicides’ (1999), and Crystal Mosselle’s ‘Skate Kitchen’ (2018).

I’m also working on presenting my desired directorial vision; what my project means to me, as a filmmaker, and my journey leading up to the lockdown.

Like many others who would never have dreamt we’d be finishing our degree like this, it’s been an emotional roller coaster, to say the least. I’m gradually managing to change my mindset, and be more positive about what the future holds; one day at a time.

If you’re also struggling to stay motivated, check out this article, I found it useful.

Kooth is an online mental wellbeing community that may also be helpful.

Good luck!

Hannah is a soon to be a BA Film graduate from Bournemouth University. She has been involved with various Exposure projects over the last few years which have helped to build her confidence and experience as a filmmaker. She loves to collaborate with talented individuals and aims to reflect this within her work and future career.

Hannah is a BA Film graduate from Bournemouth University. She has been involved with various Exposure projects over the last few years which have helped to build her confidence and experience as a filmmaker. She loves to collaborate with talented individuals and aims to reflect this within her work and future career.

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