‘The new beds are actually going to be replacing our old beds, so it’s not actually going to be improving the situation. Because our current wards are really, pretty appalling, they’re not really fit for purpose, I mean they don’t have on suite bathrooms they have three or four bathrooms for 19 beds. They’re just completely unsuitable environments for anyone to be in.’
Today I started to play around with visuals for my final project, I wanted to capture blood as it drips through the water. I wanted to show how the liquid moves and almost dances under water.
After a challenging start to the year, I think it’s important to reflect and dismantle the challenges that academia has presented me. 2017 has been a very profound and deeply precarious time for me both as an individual and as an academic. Physical and mental health disturbances in conjunction with my performance on my MA degree has made me question my capabilities and my identity. Firstly I want to address how rewarding my work on modules such as ‘Screen Cultures and Selves’, ‘Transnational Subjectivity’ and in particular ‘Contemporary Expectations’ have been to myself and my mental wellbeing. Using my subjectivity to place myself within the theoretical concepts and the challenges that modern days presents has allowed me to express and channel feelings I would usually suppress and exhibit them on a public platform. The fact that these modules ran alongside an extensive mental health assessment really helped me express and unleash thoughts, feelings, memories and emotions that I have heavily repressed for most of my life.
I have always felt on the periphery in relation to others, I have always thought that I have been playing pretend and had trouble expressing myself accurately. I always felt that something wasn’t quite right but could never explain what it was. It’s been a long and turbulent road to where I am now, tears, tantrums and overwhelming fears of inadequacy. Last week I finally received a full diagnosis for both Borderline Personality Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder. When I was first presented with these labels together I couldn’t quite accept it. How could I possibly be autistic? I’m so confident, social, loud opinionated and expressive. The more I thought about it the more I realised that for the majority of my life, the Lauren that people got to know me by was in fact a façade. Behind closed doors I am sensitive, incredibly self critical, isolated and constantly anxious. Due to social pressure and lack of understanding myself I created a character, I presented the Lauren I thought I should be. It’s overwhelmingly awesome how complex the mind can be and how all this had happened without my knowledge. The fact is autism manifests differently in women than it does with the male counterpart. Due to both having autism and childhood trauma that led to the development of a personality disorder, I have struggled deeply with my identity and who I am. This constant confusion and conflicting battle of personalities in my mind made striving for good grades almost impossible. Being caught between being totally consumed by a subject and then so quickly being so uninterested and dissatisfied really made university a challenge for me.
Since diagnosis, I feel like I am finally getting to know myself for the first time in my life. I’m finding out who the really Lauren is and in a way I finally feel connected to who I was as a child after so long of being disconnected and unable to recognise myself. Academia and education have been significant for this realisation to take place. Without partaking in such inward and subjective facing modules, I don’t think I would have been able to process all this confusion in such a therapeutic way. Reading back all my work over the past year has really helped me get to know myself and understand why I am the way I am. For the first time in my life I feel exited and liberated in my journey of identity, I have so much more to learn about myself and the world around me. I’m so grateful for everyone who has assisted me in this life-changing journey, Lecturers and colleagues who believed in me when I didn’t even know how to believe. I am Lauren Lucia Joyce and if I can come this far despite everything, I can’t wait to see where life is going to take me next.
Now that the East Winds film festival is over for another year, it’s time to reflect over all the hard work, organisation and perseverance put in by everyone involved. Before embarking on this module, I had little to no knowledge about how much work and involvement went into organising a film festival and the amount of staff it would take to get it publicised to be successful. It’s true to say that I’ve learnt so much over the duration of the module that I believe will benefit my in my forthcoming professional career.
For our module, Transcultural Distribution, we were required as a cohort to gain knowledge and understanding of how films are distributed and exhibited in relation to a Film Festival structure. We looked at how culturally and economically the film festival impacts how films are distributed and exhibited. Then ultimately use the film festival as a professional platform to exhibit our knowledge and skills to reach out to local audiences and international audiences too. Firstly it’s important to note that the East Winds Film Festival is an already established company and event. This means that we had to comply with what has already been before, holding the festival at Coventry University and exhibiting films from an East Asian background. The East Winds film festival is currently the only major film festival of it’s kind outside the capital of London and the first of it’s kind in the midlands. This is important to the ethos of the festival. Marijke de Valck wrote:
‘When one looks at the international film festival circuit from a spatial point of view, its complexity can be understood as an interrelation of the local with the global; the city with the nation; and the place of the event with the space of the media. From a temporal perspective the festivals revolve around both current affairs (programming as a politics of participation), the latest discoveries, news value, and historicity, as the oldest festivals continue to rely on their glorious pasts and a city’s history to maintain nodal positions on the circuit.’ (2007:215)
The festivals unique selling point as there is no other event that can bring what this festival promises to. As the city of Coventry is currently bidding for the City of Culture award, I think it’s important that festivals like East Winds brings something culturally alternative to the city along with the culture and history that Coventry has to offer. Also with the influx of student’s from such diverse backgrounds I think it’s significantly relevant to showcase art forms from an array of backgrounds and not solely British culture. Because the festival was already established, it has already received interest Worldwide from industry professionals this meant that we had to strive to get the festival as much attention as possible. The aim is to reach as many people through our marketing strategy online and in the community to make the festival as busy as possible. It’s said that:
‘Festivals have a number of advantages[…] in that festivals are events. And we are currently living in an event-driven culture […]Because they are events (if not spectacles, in the Debordian sense), festivals have a greater promotional budget to attract audiences’ (2009:24)
One would have hoped that if there was a low turn out overall, our opening night with typical film festival discourses such as; a red carpet, photographers, interviews and entertainment would draw in passers by looking for that ‘event-driven culture’.
To have been given the opportunity to work for and curate such a prestigious festival felt like an honour, but also a challenge. To get the festival marketed and promoted in time meant that we had to work to strict deadlines and sometimes think on our feet. The professional experience that we all gained whilst working on the festival is incredibly valuable as this is how it’s done in industry. We were all divided into teams with a different focus. As I come from a production background, it felt natural for me to apply for the role of production manager as I felt this could benefit the team to apply skills I’ve already gained. What I personally wanted to get out of this festival was experience leading a team, as someone who has previously worked alone and can sometimes find social situations intimidating, I wanted to push myself mentally and physically to not only manage myself but a team as well. I think leadership skills are invaluable when approaching a career in multiple disciplines and throughout the module I’ve broadened my knowledge both socially and technically. As aforementioned, I applied for, and received, the role of production manager and I knew how much of an important component the production would be to the overall marketing strategy for the festival. As a production team, we were in charge of coordinating the set-up of all equipment, organising the transport to locations and using the equipment and software to a professional standard. With a production role its imperative to have good time keeping and punctuality as without the production crew nothing can be captured and other people such as presenters rely on our presence. As production is an important component to the overall marketing of the festival, it’s important to be aware of our audience, keep all aesthetics consistent to comply with said marketing strategy. For instance, once we decided to go for the concept of Chinese ink paintings for the ident, it’s important to continue with that concept, which the marketing team did with the posters and flyers for the festival. As a production team we were in charge of operating all cameras for videography, all the microphones and sound recording equipment, using lighting effectively and editing all work to a high standard. I would have to say that my team were incredibly efficient with time management and presence, collecting equipment on time and being ready and set up to record on cue. All equipment was booked in advance to ensure that all other departments could meet their deadlines. Its imperative that all departments meet their deadlines so the preparation could run smoothly, with so many departments, briefs and deadlines if one team falls behind it means the whole festival can fall behind. I think that was one of my biggest concerns, because I’m not particularly good at allowing myself to rely on other people but as I discovered, the production team were reliable, consistent and did everything expected. I think perhaps that’s my biggest learning curve from the festival, putting trust in others professionally.
I think the innovative way that we have had a thoroughly professional and practical module embedded within in our course is so contemporary in such a academic context, that it allows us to expand our knowledge theoretically as well as broadening our skills professionally. I’ve always been very critical of my self and my work but over the duration of the festival I’ve learnt not to take it so personally and to see the bigger picture. I’ve learnt so many organisational and planning skills that are really going to benefit me in so many directions. The biggest achievement for me was to approachable and help members of my team recognise the confidence in themselves and seeing our progress as a team and as individuals has been so very rewarding. Having being able to rely on my production team when I was taken in bad health was a huge learning curve for me. Ching Hui especially deserves credit for being such a great support to the team and challenging herself as well as all of us to do the best job that we possibly can. I look forward to the future and using all the transferable skills I’ve gathered throughout this module and working alongside of a team in the future. I hope that the skills and techniques I’ve taught other people throughout this module will benefit me socially and help me in my aim towards becoming a teacher.
Peranson, M. (2009). First You Get the Power, Then You Get the Money: Two Models of Film Festivals. On Film Festivals. London: Wallflower.
Valck, D. M. (2007). Film Festivals: From European Geopolitics to Global Cinephilia. Amsterdam University Press.
It’s the week of the festival and everyone if frantically preparing for the big opening. As planned, I used the time to gather ‘filler footage’ of the set up and coordination of the festival. I used the quiet time to acquire different creative shots that can be used in the marketing materials for future East Winds events. As I took the time to capture all the detailed decorations for the festival, my team worked on capturing a time-lapse shot of people attending the first viewing. The energy was so electric for the build up of opening night, we we’re all excited for the guests to arrive and for our virtual audience to tune-in with us through the live stream.
Throughout the opening ceremony I was filming ‘behind the scenes’, capturing all the photographers as they we’re taking photos on the red carpet, all the videographers and the DJ. As the night progressed, Fengu Zhai and I decided to take the opportunity to record some interviews with people who had attended the event to find out their thoughts and the impact the festival has on the University, the wider community and us as a cohort. We filmed interviews with a diverse set of people from the module moderator, festival directors, Coventry locals and other staff and students from the university. It was great that we got to have the opportunity to conduct these interviews as it gave us an insight as to how valuable the film festival is in bringing more culture to coventry but also allowing us to partake in such an outward facing event.
On the Wednesday Evening we we’re fortunate enough to have Latkamon Pinrojkirati (pim), join us for a Q&A after the screening of her film ‘School Tales’ (2017), for the evening I was in charge of co-ordinating the set up and filming of the Q&A. I had set up three cameras along with my team to capture one shot of Pim and her interpreter, a camera to capture the the audience as they ask the questions and one final camera set up at the back of the cinema to get a wide shot of the whole audience and Pim. Although I’m used to filming in these kinds of situations, I found the lighting very dark to focus on the individual asking the questions. Due to this I had to manually control the focus on the camera which meant that it was very tight to get the shot in between the transition of question and answer. In retrospect I would have set up two audience facing cameras, one on each side of the cinema so if the timing was too tight for me then I would have had back up footage. Despite this I’m very happy with the overall ascetic captured over the course of the week and so grateful to have taken part in the East Winds Film Festival.
This week is all about the preparation for the event, planning what production equipment that will be needed and positioning. I went over to square one to take another look at the layout of the space we have to use but because nothing is set up yet it’s not possible to do a plan of what shots to take where. Because of the amount of preparation that will need doing to set the space up next week I think it’s best to just be on location all day to capture the behind the scenes set up of the festival. This way I will familiar with the space and will have time to get filler footage of the decorations, the set up and then finally the start of the festival. This week is pretty quiet production wise but I know it’s all going to be really busy and demanding next week. We’re almost there!
“The fear factor has certainly grown, as indicated by the growth in locked car and house doors and security systems, the popularity of gated or secure communities for all age and income groups, and the increasing surveillance of public space…not to mention the unending reports of danger emitted by the mass media” (Ellin, 1997, 26).
-A selection of pictures taken from our photography project in Paris, all these photos were taken by me and will be featured in our forthcoming exhibition at Coventry University.
‘The future has got me worried, such awful thoughts.
My head is a carousel of pictures.
The spinning never stops’-Bright Eyes (2002)
In a society where connotations of happiness are explicitly imposed on us through various forms of culture and media, is the pressure on us to constantly be ‘happy’ in fact doing more damage than good? Ahmed(2010:29) argues that ‘The very expectation of happiness gives us a specific image of the future. This is why happiness provides the emotional setting for disappointment’. Happiness although itself is not a commodity, notions of happiness are used to sell pretty much anything, implying that happiness can be achieved buy buying products that have been endorsed by happiness. It’s undeniable that brands and companies worldwide capitalise on notions of happiness with one of the most popular being Mcdonalds, ‘The Happy Meal’. This is so problematic to many vulnerable people, if we believe that consumer culture is the route to happiness, as dictated by the media, then it implies that happiness is out of our control. Retail therapy is a term that nearly everyone in the western world is familiar with, consuming with the intent to improve the mood of the buyer. In an article written by A. Selin Atalay and Margaret G. Meloy (2011) it states that:
‘Self-regulation theory suggests that bad moods cause individuals to fail at self-regulation (Tice & Bratslavsky, 2000). Similarly, according to Tice, Bratslavsky, and Baumeister (2001), emotional distress (e.g., anger, fear, loneliness) may shift priorities such that the individual will focus on shorter-term goals to escape the distressing situation, including engaging in more impulsive behaviors’. (2011:3)
As a long term suffer from depression and anxiety, I among many, have engaged in activities that would lead to a quick fix and elevate my mood. Abeit drugs, fitness, shopping, coffee, food or alcohol, engaging in consumer practices can be incredibly dangerous to individuals with depression and anxiety as they can become dependent and use these vices as an emotional crutch to lean on and keep them going without addressing the cause of their emotional distress.
The utopic vision of a ‘good life’ surrounds us on a daily basis and in a forever changing world anxieties towards uncertainty is growing and putting more and more pressure on us. We want to be successful, have a career, have a house, enjoy family life and holidays, travel the world and have good health. In reality it’s almost impossible to obtain all these expectations and wants that society puts upon us, but we also put upon ourselves.
In our neoliberal society pressure is put on us to better ourselves and this is explicit in the growing industry of ‘self-help’ literature:
‘Neoliberalism wants us to be able to produce as efficiently as possible, to be as well as possible in order to produce sustainable profit. But we have to do that on our own. Self-care as an idea is important, powerful and healing. However, it’s starting to seem like this idea that we have to be responsible over our own wellbeing can be a trap to ensure that we’ll continue to provide labour and be responsible over our ability to do so.’(2016)
I’ve had to seek professional help to maintain my self care and as a very personal person and this growing pressure to be happy or to give the perception that I’m happy leads me to feel like I’m engaging in a daily performance. On a day-to-day basis my life is a stage, I do my very best to keep all emotional reactions to myself to prevent signs of weakness. Despite my protective nature over myself, I cannot help but feel like this is reinforcing the good life narrative to those around me. Throughout working on this module, using my subjectivity to engage with theoretical concepts has been very empowering. When I’m so private in my ‘real’ life, yet so open and critical in my ‘virtual’ life, I hope that using my critical voice to critique the ‘good life’ narrative along with my subjectivity in relation to this can help raise awareness of mental health in an academic context.
Ahmed, S. (2010) The Promise of Happiness London: Duke University Press
Atalay, A. and Meloy, M. (2011). Retail therapy: A strategic effort to improve mood. Psychology and Marketing, 28(6), pp.638-659.
Kuang, R. (2017). The Neoliberal Trap of the Self-Care Rhetoric. [online] The Huffington Post. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-kuang/the-neoliberal-trap-of-th_b_9751594.html [Accessed 9 May 2017].