Half Open: Why I'm really struggling with the post-lockdown pre-normal world.

At the start of this year, I was ridiculously excited. I had just finished my second feature film, I was coming up to the end of my three years studying my degree, and I was feeling pretty good about where things were going. And then a distributor picked up my film and is releasing it! 2020, I figured, was going to be my year.

Of course, there are people out there who have suffered far more thanks to Coronavirus than I have, and in the grand scheme of things, my woes and troubles seem insignificant. Ultimately, I still have friends and family around who I love and who love me, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the whole thing has really started to eat away at me recently.

Lockdown was tough, but it’s this half-open, uncertain world we find ourselves living in right now that is the real kicker. Just before lockdown, I was about to enter into production on my next movie, the plan was that we’d be able to get that into distribution and show a sort of work ethic or something, moving swiftly into another shortly after that one. But, of course, all of that had to be paused and things ground very quickly to a halt.

I started writing a zoom-based horror movie, funnily enough, and even discussed it with several friends I wanted to offer roles to, but then Rob Savage’s excellent HOST came along and blew that out of the water. Meanwhile, the economy started spiraling and I couldn’t get a job. That was hard. After years of difficult early morning commutes, hard work, struggling to juggle a job, studies, family, and friends, I graduated with a First and my prospects were at exactly zero. I’ve struggled to get any of my writing picked up either, a series of sort of near misses or gentle letdowns have begun to slowly start stacking up against me.

When the lockdown was initially lifted planning started going back into place for my film, only for the rule of six to jump in and make the entire thing impossible. There has been good along the way, I don’t want to be entirely negative here, I managed to get a job working on an incredible project with some amazing people at Digital Writes, and I’ve had some really exciting meetings over the last couple of weeks about potential distribution and even funding, but I just can’t quite escape this tired frustration that hovers around me.

What makes it worse, I think, is that I’ve started noticing it seep into other areas of my life, affecting the way I behave with people. Booking a day off from work becomes an aggravating experience when plans suddenly change, for example, while I look at my friends who’ve moved away and are on a more exciting path with a twinge of jealousy now, and I don’t like that. I’m proud of them and excited for them.

I’m not writing this out of a need for sympathy or advice. I’d rather people didn’t offer either of those things, really, I’m more just looking to vent. To make sense of it on my own. I certainly don’t want to offend anyone either, I know my experiences aren’t even a fraction as difficult as the experiences of others out there right now. But I am so, so fed up.

Furthermore, the wider troubles of the country I call home have really started to have a negative impact on me. I find myself become angry on an almost hourly basis. The lies, blatant wrong-doings and inconsistencies, and then the supporters who desperately scramble to twist the truth and paper over the nonsense in the hopes of finding a way to pretending continued support is okay rather than admit to themselves that they just don’t care about the awful things their leaders do so long as their side continue to “win”. It’s all so depressing.

And I can’t hug my friends. Or my dad. I can’t pop out a see my brother for a drink. I can’t go see my Nan and Granddad. I can’t even go to the cinema anymore.

I know that this isn’t forever, and I know that at some point things are going to change, but as I said, right now I’m just tired. Things felt like they were finally starting to happen for me. After years (and I do mean years, nearly 15 years and counting of properly trying to get somewhere) of hard work, of not getting paid to do stuff, of struggling, rejection, and failure, it really did seem like I was just about to take the next step and then… click. Like that, it stalled.

I think the real frustration comes from the fact that a part of me feels like I should be back to normal. I should be out with friends, busy working on movies, shooting, mixing, hanging out, and generally just doing all the things I used to and still want to do. But then there's this other part of me that knows things aren't really, really open at all. Everything is still in a form of lockdown and will be for the foreseeable future. But since some people in power are saying we should get on with it while others say we need to stay safe and locked away (sometimes, confusingly, these are the same people), how am I supposed to know where I'm meant to stand?

As I said, I’m not looking for sympathy or advice, I’m just ranting. And maybe I’m sharing, in the hopes that someone reading this who is feeling the same frustrations, claustrophobic discomfort, and general tenseness of this entire thing might realize they’re not alone… I really hope I’m not alone.

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© Alex Secker 2018