Gig Economy, Artists & The Light on the Mountains Tonight is Breathtaking

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One million thank yous to OMPA and Oregon Film who have clearly and thoroughly described through video tutorials and text what film industry workers need to do to claim benefits from the stimulus package.

Being one of thousands of gig-economy film workers, tomorrow I will take a break from Phoenix, Oregon release tasks and spend several hours filling out unemployent paperwork, small business loan applications, and figuring out how much help we are allotted. Gary and I are both freelance and rely on income from film projects — mostly corporate commercials — which have all been put on hold.

To make matters more complicated, I took a few months off from commercial work to focus on the release — an intentional investment of my time for the hope of a future payday. Gary has worked crazy hours for months to support us while I have focused fully on distribution. All our jobs are now on pause.

This is probably why my creativity around the release kicked into high gear once we knew we couldn’t open in theaters on March 20. Having our backs against the wall, we were forced to problem-solve and pivot towards the Theatrical-at-Home model. It felt grounded and heart-centered, giving our little film a fighting change and also giving us a way to support the theaters we so love.

I dare say that artists are used to crisis and ups-and-downs. We’re willing to take risks to do what we dream. When life trips us up, we problem solve, swat aside and mock obstacles, and get back to our true work as quickly as possible.

Driven, we work on passion-projects for years and years. Putting most all else on hold. Vacations, savings, retirement funds. We make sacrifices. Embrace risk and take on debt.

We get better, improve until our art grows up and is ready to be shown. We hope people see our art, that it nourishes and impacts, that it somehow matters in the world.

For all of this, artists may be the most thankful people in the world. We are lucky. And we are also often on the brink of financial disaster. It’s not pretty, but it’s the truth.

Artists could work corporate jobs like I did in my early twenties. They could trade-up for tens of thousands of dollars and years of accumulated savings.

But if all artists traded art for security, what would all of us be watching, reading and listening to right now? What would absorb our tears and make our guts burst with laughter? What would we consume during covid crisis?

The world needs art. I’ve stopped feeling selfish for “getting to do art” — finally after 25 years, I’ve accepted and acknowledged that it’s needed.

As an eternal, solutions-focused optimist, my tendency is to instinctively believe we will come out of this ok and most likely even better on the other side. I’m pretty sure of it.

The next few months might be hard, but we will definitely, without a doubt, be ok. We have resources, family, community and options.

So many people don’t. They are the ones I worry about. They may not even know there are forms, much less how to fill them out. And our social services departments are soon to be buried and over-burdened just like our hospitals and nurses.

For those us who will be ok — may we come out of this with love…

With more compassion, perspective, empathy and awareness. With gratitude for family and community. With experience and wisdom, knowing both our limits and of what we are capable. Knowing that in crisis we react with ingenuity, resilience, creativity, determination, generosity and kindness.

And that we remember to ask: right now, am I ok?

Right now. In this moment. I am ok. More than ok.

I sit here working, with my absolutely incredible 13-year old daughter beside me. Gary’s in the kitchen cooking dinner, supporting and loving us with his preparations. Out our window, the hills across the valley are greening up. The sun breaks through the clouds, and there is new snow on the mountain after a cloudy, tumultuous day.

1,000 Americans died of covid today. Friends of friends of friends and celebrities we’ve followed and heard of.

And we wonder what the world is coming to. And will it really be ok…?

If my daugher asks, which she hasn’t, I’d say yes… I think so…

What would it look like if it wasn’t ok?

I’ve lived through tragedy before. And here we are. Still whole and joyous, yet scarred and gutted and somehow lifted.

And just as I write this, Petracovich’s “You Are This Perfect (My Baby Boy)” comes on the stereo, on our shuffle, and I haven’t heard this in awhile. And I just want to burst into tears of gratitude and grief and joy and life and fullness and pain.

How can it be that I am so cared for as to receive the perfect song, the perfect book, the exact message when it’s most needed? We humans are so precious. We live in such a fragile state of despair and pure love all at once.

May we turn to each other now and after.

How connected I feel to all of you… not through computer screens. But through the clouds and rain and sunbeams and snow covered peaks.

All my love today, in our many tomorrows, and through all time.

♡ Annie


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