Looking back on 2021

A year where a lot of good things occurred, re awards and such, and I managed to remain employed despite the pandemic hardships, but yet there was a fair amount of negative stress and health issues too.

It’s long. So feel free to skip it. But hopefully it’s a revealing take on a year in a creative life. It’s not going to be up on the site for long… tick- tick- tick….

Thank you to everyone who’s helped and supported us / me. You’re awesome! Couldn’t have done anything without some great supportive friends, mentors and collaborators to help me along the way.


MONTH BY MONTH DETAIL:

JanuaryGAS! and MR CLEAN get honourable mentions. I brought back the VLOGS every day for a month. COMFORT HIM got selected to its 17th fest. COMFORT HIM and MR CLEAN get 20th fest selections. GAS! got into the quarter finals of a top draw script fest. And I resumed reading a script a week again. I was asked to help check out a script, despite not having any direct interest in said project, and agreed to help out despite my misgivings. But I was then blamed for a clumsy situation that someone else had caused when unfiltered feedback was shared and I was copied in with zero introduction. And then my attempts to smooth the situation over, to explain what had happened, became perceived as me wanting to take over – as if I’m that desperate for credit. It was a proper shit show. And, as time would tell, my sincere apologies fell on deaf ears…

February – I stopped vlogging – work demands and writing scripts just doesn’t allow the time for it. GAS! was a finalist. MR CLEAN was released by TROMA on DVD and online. And COMFORT HIM was a finalist.

MarchCOMFORT HIM was a semi finalist and I teased some upcoming projects. There were rejections for MR CLEAN and other projects in competitions, but then MR CLEAN and IMPRINT both won awards. COMFORT HIM made it to Austin, Texas, but covid isolation kept me home. I wrote a feature horror script for BLOOD RAGE in just over a month. There were some fest rejections, some more selections and then the potential projects were cancelled. This was supposed to be the month to film a feature in the UK, but Covid and a production deal falling through, just before being signed, soon came to bear. That and the shorts being killed-off was also disheartening. And the backup plan of travelling to the UK was also smacked down by Covid variants.

April – IMPRINT picked up more awards. And then more. And more. And then a 5th. The short of SVEN GUNNAR got into a fest while I was halfway through writing the feature version. Up until this point there had been lots of desire for this script / to make the feature. I was getting regular calls and messages for progress updates and doing my best to deal with a very challenging work project.

May – SVEN GUNNAR was released on youtube and due to much effort in promotion and marketing did much better than COMFORT HIM with 15K views (it was 17k at first and then thousands of views stats disappeared. Weird) – and I was happy for Darwin’s success and impressed at the results. And I finished the feature script for SVEN GUNNAR and again tried for 30 days but it took a month and a half to get it done, due to sickness. I released multiple BTS videos on COMFORT HIM which no one cared about. IMPRINT was again a finalist in a top-flight screenplay fest. MAGIC IS MURDER, the feature script I overhauled and polished for Simon O’Kill, got into the semi-finals of a festival. And I also met with Hasse and Johnny re SVEN GUNNAR feature, and started working on my third feature script – my pagan horror feature BLÖDA. Although I was surprised that some of the more interested parties wanting SVEN GUNNAR to be written, after chasing me for months, were completely uninterested to read it. Also the situation from January was then thrown back in my face, again. I decided to move on rather than deal with such BS again. However, I was more distracted by illness and doing a Covid test and despite everything pointing at Covid, it wasn’t. But my lungs were properly fucked for a good while and travel wasn’t an option and it was quite a miserable time.

June – There were more festival selections and placings for IMPRINT. MR CLEAN and IMPRINT were both nominated, and I had serious computer issues when trying to edit TUMBLE DYING. IMPRINT placed in more fests and picked up an accolade in Coverfly. And finally IMPRINT and MR CLEAN both closed out the month with awards. And the first vaccine dose was had. Could we really travel soon? We headed down to Eksjö for a lovely midsommar with friends.

July – IMPRINT picked up its 9th award, it’s 10th award and placed in more festivals. MR CLEAN got into its 24th festival and won an award and I finally finished my 3rd feature script first draft this year – finishing writing BLÖDA, the film I intended to shoot later that year. I got my second vaccine dose and got really ill from it. Fun times.

August – I got shingles again on the back of the side effects of the dose. Yet more chronic pain in new places and finally some options to consider for help. IMPRINT picked up its 11th award and COMFORT HIM got its first Scandinavian region selection. MR CLEAN picked up its 10th award and more nominations. COMFORT HIM them won in SIFF and we looked forward to a live screening in October in Sweden. I started a newsletter.

September – I was put on proper meds for the first time to help me sleep and ignore the chronic pain. I was spaced out for the entire month…. MR CLEAN then placed and was nominated at the same Scandinavian fest. IMPRINT had a good month with selections and high profile placings / nominations. And I released the poster that Neigh Frazer had designed for IMPRINT. MR CLEAN then also won at SIFF. GAS! was nominated for an award and MR CLEAN and then IMPRINT both won awards. People returned to offices and the inevitable spread of Covid resumed. People attended fests, but my health was still poor so I didn’t risk it.

OctoberCOMFORT HIM was nominated and also got noticed by a Hollywood Scream Queen and I had more technical issues with editing TUMBLE DYING. IMPRINT had lots going on re festival placings and nominations. IMPRINT won another award. IMPRINT picked up its 7th award and COMFORT HIM won an award too. And IMPRINT was a finalist in some great horror fests. It didn’t win but also more importantly COMFORT HIM and MR CLEAN did not get their screenings in Sweden due to Covid. I began to devote more time to learning about aspects of raising funding and producing films. I killed off the newsletter as I hated the interface / platform / pressure.

November – Was very disappointing at first, with me not getting to film BLÖDA and having to put off my unrealistic desire to do so due to construction the previous month but the festival situation was going well with screenings and selections. IMPRINT was nominated for two awards at respected horror fests but didn’t win. And another Swedish fest liked IMPRINT and selected it. However, I resumed work on the script for BLÖDA with a desire to share it for feedback. And began trying to formulate my ideas regarding the next evolution of Eibon Films. We also had to deal with a very sick cat and a shocking bereavement. Luckily we turned the cat’s health around.

December – The builders finally finished and fucked-off! I could hear myself thing after 18 months of construction. IMPRINT picked up its 12th and 13th awards and then its 13, 14th and 15th awards. I ran out of steam a bit half way through the BLÖDA rewrite and pick up rewrite on BLOOD RAGE, to change things up a bit and get halfway through that. We’d planned to go over to the UK but it didn’t look doable. The new variant put paid to that idea. Others who felt more confident were being struck by it when they attempted travel. But I also battled burnout and a crushing depression. Burning the candle at both ends was taking its toll. A time for rest, meditation and reflection was needed as the year came to a close with a funeral.


We closed out the year with around 37 awards across four projects (#12 for MR CLEAN, #6 for COMFORT HIM, #4 for GAS!, #15 for IMPRINT). I only share that news / number because I still can’t believe it. It was never about winning so many awards, but getting validation for whether we’re producing work of the right quality. And it seemed like we were on the right track.

IMPRINT already has 3 actors in consideration for roles who love the script. More to do to make it happen. But the gamble / strategy of getting the script into fests to get some attention has paid off to attract fellow collaborators.


REVELATIONS:

What the above doesn’t really reflect is:

  • that I learned quite a bit. Not all good. That despite the evidence to the contrary, people can doubt your intentions. I learned who was really supportive. Who was keen to give as well as to take. Who was quite happy to break promises or agreements. And that despite how inaccurate some perceptions of you might be, sometimes you’re just unable to change that perception and fix things and you should just move on. It was clear that some collaborations were coming to an end, as other exciting potential collaborations were arising. Potential projects rarely go to plan – even when you try and control all the elements. Something can always happen to derail or delay project which is out of your hands, but I tried to bob and weave and keep forward momentum regardless.
  • I learned that despite all the jabs, Covid is still very much messing up the festival circuit and everything else and my immune system always has more surprises in store when you’re exhausted by the side-effects.
  • Sadly my account above doesn’t really capture the success of other projects I helped and have been supporting. And I’m happy for all of those teams for how they’ve been received and the accolades they’ve won. I merely tried to document what I’m responsible for. But I’m grateful for being a part of those projects in whatever way I could help.
  • The list above doesn’t really capture the stress of the day job and the demands it places on you. The battle with your health. Nor does it capture the bereavements and losses and the near misses. Or the sacrifices that you must place on relationships to meet deadlines and produce quality work, the doubts or the crushing depression.
  • It doesn’t really capture the projects that were supposed to be completed and released, but were abandoned due to shifting priorities. Something I’m also guilty of.
  • It doesn’t really capture that I merely reported the progress of these projects in various festivals to chart what had happened. But my focus was never on the pursuit and collection of awards per se, other than to help raise the profile of the projects themselves – to aid production / distribution and facilitate the networking process. The fact that many of the live festivals I planned to attend did not happen when they were supposed to was out of my control, but it did bug me. And no I didn’t chart all of the rejections. But believe me there’s been enough of them.
  • It was clear that despite working like a maniac to create, following through on every creative promise and putting off holidays and putting health second, to pursue your dreams, that others don’t value the sacrifices you made. And so next year, although I will still pursue my goals, I will try and spend more time living life for myself and not for other people unless they’re paying or there’s a genuine reason to shift priorities. Although I am very positive about potential collaborations and future projects, what will be will be. I have ambitious goals and will strive for them, but try to find more of a work life balance. And I’ll continue to seek out collaborative friendships.
  • Life is about the opportunities you create. There’s no right and wrong. There is only the doing and the not doing. We can all think about what might have been, but we’ve just got to stay focussed on what we believe to be the right direction to continue heading in. And get on with it. And I’m confident with that mindset we’ll all get there and help each other along the way.

In CONCLUSION:

It hasn’t been the best of years, yet so much good has happened and I have achieved a lot. I really earned that Birthday celebration this year, and I’ve earned some rest. But I still would have liked to have done more:

  • TUMBLE DYING – didn’t get finished. Purely rests on my shoulders. I should have ignored demands to write SVEN GUNNAR and just continue with editing the short while I had momentum behind me, considering others didn’t keep up their end of the deal with reading the finished feature script. But soon, I will usher it forward.
  • BLÖDA – picking a project that was time dependent, despite being a cracking idea, was a dumb thing to lock yourself into producing a film at a set time, when unforseen construction work could then prevent the production from happening. But there’s nothing to stop me making this happen in the future.
  • FILM PRODUCTION – although I released 5 videos this year, and I did some work in the background to begin to cast and crew some potential productions and created some practical FX, I did not actually shoot or make any new narrative films. I also didn’t get to create any more music videos this year. But I have devoted much time to learning about the business aspects and the practicalities of raising finance etc: I also widened my network and made some new friends, and I’m excited to try and get a few projects off the ground in 2022. But seeing COMFORT HIM get distribution on DVD was a lovely present at the end of the year.
  • SCREENWRITING – I did well this year, devoting myself again to more development on plotting / narrative structure. I wrote three feature scripts and one kick-ass short film and I’ve been plotting another feature. I got reassurance that my writing has merit both from super helpful trusted readers, coverage reviews and from festivals. And I’m genuinely fired up to improve my rewriting / editing skills and to start submitting features to festivals next year and to learn to pitch them, to try and get them read. Although I still want to make more films, writing is my thing and definitely how I want to continue – my main passion.
  • SELF DEVELOPMENT – I did a lot of courses and webinars this year about 15 in all. But there are three I need to finish pretty damn quick and 1 I planned to devote my time to after I got derailed by the first assignment. Read a script a week up until December, when I ran out of time. But did pretty well over all. Think I read about 45. Sadly didn’t always write them down. I read plenty of books, but not nearly enough. Certainly not enough for pleasure. And more time was spent watching films. I want to read more in 2022 and continue to grow.
  • TRAVEL – other than going to Dalarna and Eksjö this summer, I didn’t really travel anywhere. Covid was high on my mind, and the need to isolate. But I had planned to attend fests and travel to the UK and neither happened. Got to rectify this in 2022.
  • HEALTH – It’s not been great. It can be better.

2022 GOALS / RESOLUTIONS

So what about 2022?

My creative goals / wants are as follows:

  • 1. Redo the website
  • 2. Prepare my pitch deck and email marketing materials (loglines, synopsis etc) for my feature scripts
  • 3. Learn how to pitch (and work on my pitching skills and do some pitch sessions and get feedback on areas to improve)
  • 4. Do more networking (attend more networking sessions – and widen and deepen my network)
  • 5. Get coverage on the scripts I want to send out (and learn from it / use it to polish the scripts for submission)
  • 7. Improve my dialogue (re subtext and furthering the plot)
  • 8. Enter feature screenplay competitions
  • 9. Shoot my first feature film
  • 10. Finish TUMBLE DYING.

But overall I just want this living experiment we call life to be more positive and happier in 2022. I want some travel and I want to see loved ones. It’s been far too long!

I hope everyone has an amazing 2022 and keeps chasing their dreams.

And if you read any of this and don’t hate me, I really hope you found something useful in the above. Even if it’s just to motivate you to also strive to achieve more this year.