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Daring To Go First

How I learned to accept myself, just as I am.

· Filming,Being Seen and Heard

I'd made an arrangement with Andrew (a fellow Inner View Method film-maker) that’d we’d get together and film each other. It seemed simple enough. I had sat in front of the camera before, but it had been a while. In the intervening months I had been busy filming other people and become very comfortable being the one behind the camera, not in front of it.

Putting myself in the position of one of my ‘subjects’ felt scary. I noticed the tension and fear, and realised it was important I didn’t forget what the concerns could be for some people when I am filming them.

Being filmed by Andrew I soon felt at ease, totally accepted and safe. He said very little but he was very present and giving me his full attention, just as I do when I’m filming. I soon forgot my anxiety and even that the camera was there recording me. The gift of having the full attention of another is really precious.

The next step in the process for me this time was the decision to edit the footage to create a short film. The voices in my head did a great job of finding objections.

"Who are you to have a film of yourself? Who would even want to see it? What did you even say that would be worth making a film of? Who do you think you are? What's the point of it?” I am sure I am not alone in having thoughts like these.

To create a film from my footage I would have to sit with images of myself for hours, observing it in detail, listening to my voice, seeing my face. For someone who has had a life long uneasy relationship with cameras and mirrors, there would be no escape. Did I really want to put myself through that!

Seemed like a threshold to be crossed. Encouraged by Andrew’s lead, and him sharing a really moving film he created from my footage of him (Hidden Illness), I decided I would see what I could create.

At one point my editing software crashed and I thought I had lost everything - clearly, this film just wasn’t meant to be. Giving up turned out not to be an option though, as a text from Andrew showed me how to recover what I had thought was gone forever.

It was such an interesting process looking over the footage, hearing what I said, and once again noticing the voices in my head having a field day.

Well, you should have said this… and you could have said it like that…. and why didn’t you prepare better?” On and on they went.

"Thank you. That's enough.” I said firmly,

"You know that isn’t what this is about, don’t you? I appreciate you are trying to keep me safe, but I’m daring to do this differently because it matters to me. I want people to know that it is okay to be real, to be themselves and to be seen, and I can’t expect them to do that if I don’t go first, can I?”

And so, the film was made. Far from perfect in any conventional sense but absolutely perfect in another. There I am, in that moment.

I dared to share it with a few trusted friends and was really touched by their reaction. I am also learning to be content with no reaction at all. Once it is out in the world I can't ever know who's seen it and what impact (if any) it had on them.

The whole process gave me the courage to not only include the short film on my website but also to have footage of me on the background of the homepage. Not because I think I look amazing, but because I can accept myself. There I am. That’s me.

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