This week, my good friend Tennyson bit the bullet and told the story of the brain injury he received a couple of years ago (you should read that first,so this will make more sense). It’s something he sat on for a long time, for legal reasons, and those of us aware of it did likewise. But now it’s out, and I have a few things to say.
I came in to 8 Sided Films with no idea of what I get really getting myself into. I met a couple of guys through couple of women I barely knew, I liked their stuff and chatted to them a bit, then one of them asked me to join the ensemble, and I went “Sure!”. Tenny is convinced I had done some sort of risk analysis before saying yes, but really I did what I always do: I saw something that seemed like fun, and so I jumped right in. I could’ve hated it, I could’ve hated them, I could’ve gone “sod that” the first time I got bored. Instead I made the choice to not do my MA in order to find a job which could support me doing this stuff.
In short: I found the second thing I could love even when it sucked (the first being writing).
When Tenny told me what had happened, I had a lot of reactions: anger, fear, compassion, etc. Many of my thoughts were about the fact that what he was telling me was that he’d been injured in a way which could disable or even kill him.
I kept those thoughts as well to myself as I could – not just to Tenny but to anyone else who knew, There was already plenty of pressure, and Tenny needed support, not fear and doubt. But there was fear. I saw him struggle, and I saw his bad days, and I saw him try to hide how bad it was – and I wasn’t fooled.
I do have a pragmatic side. It tends to get drowned out by the rest, but it’s there. And I did ask myself the hard questions. I asked if Tenny was still able to lead us. I asked if he was still able to write and direct as well as he could before. I asked if this was a ship which was going to sink. I asked if maybe I would be better off out. I asked if Tenny was even going to survive, and if he didn’t, what would happen to the rest of us. I asked quietly, but I asked, and I wrestled with my answers and I wrestled with my doubts. And I watched, from my little perch.
I saw Gerard start to take on more, and I saw Tyler edging his way towards it, and I continued as I was. I didn’t expect to wind up in a meeting with the three of them, being asked by Tenny if I wanted to be part of the production team.
He was clear: it meant more work, of the thankless kind, a steep learning curve, and some very large strides out of anything resembling my comfort zone. And the rewards for doing it would be small, in comparison.
You don’t need the boring details, but trust me when I say much of it is deathly boring and incredibly uncomfortable, neither of which I’m very good at handling. This was made clear to me.
And all of those pragmatic questions suddenly needed answers. If I said no to this, it was because I had answered no to one or more of those questions, and that meant it was probably time for me to step out. If I said yes to this, I was answering yes to them, and committing myself – which meant trusting what I’d see, and no backing out.
But here’s the thing. All those questions were – and are – valid questions. I chose in those few moments of thought I took to answer them with a yes.
Because I’d sat on my perch and I’d watched. And I saw that Tenny didn’t stop. He didn’t quit. He didn’t say it was too hard. He kept writing, he worked harder than ever. He kept going as long as he could, until he finally admitted he needed others to help out.
And when he did, he chose the three people he knew he could trust the most to be part of a producing team. That wasn’t a small thing for him to ask, or a small thing for us to do, but we did it. And he kept going. He taught us, he wrote the DevelopMental Breakdown in case he became unable to continue, he taught us some more, and he encouraged us. He got mushy in meetings and told us how much we meant to him.
He got better organised, he learned how to treat himself, he learned he had a team on which he could rely and he started to make use of us instead of doing everything himself.
Tenny’s post should speak for itself in telling you what we’ve accomplished since his injury, as an ensemble. We’ve done a lot, and we’ve done it well. Nothing stopped that man, and we’ve taken his lead.
I am still surprised that Tenny asked me to join that core team. Heck, I’m still surprised he asked me to join the ensemble in the first place.
What we’ve done speaks volumes. As a team, we’re unbreakable, we’ve proven that. Nothing is going to stop us, and we’ve proven that whatever happens we’ll only grow tighter and stronger, and better. If you’re not already with us on the ride, now would be a great time to join us here, here and here