""Settleeeee UP, you're call-in' UP, the paaaiiiin", sung Jonathan and myself in unison with Justin Vernon, as the desert scenery flashed past out the windows of my car. We were en route to Canberra, for the Film Is Not Dead workshop, travelling along the longest, straightest, most boring road imaginable. Joe was sleeping in the back seat, jet-lagged from his flight from Utah (although he was always sleeping it seemed, so maybe he's just a sleepy person), and Luisa sat in the seat behind mine- gazing out of the window, her brain assumably conjuring up something ridiculously creative.
We had been to the petrol station ('gas' station, apparently), stocked up on chicken chips ("These Australian chips taste like chicken! Real chicken!" "Gross!"- Jonathan) and were about half way to Canberra when *suddenly*, Joe awoke.
"I need to go to the bathroom!".
So, we took the next turn-off, into a little town named Marulan. Little did we know what we had in store for us there...
More than 2 hours later (the result of a car full of photographers in a new, but very old, very abandoned, and very cool place)("let's SHOOT, yo!"), I found myself sitting in the car on my own, on the side of the highway, watching Luisa wander down the bushy hill. We were waiting for Jon and Joe to return from the wilderness. That's right, the wilderness. You see, we met a man named Mouse (yes, Mouse) in Marulan, and he raved about these amazing convict-built archway-things, and insisted our International guests came and saw them. So, they did.
Mouse was awesome. He had a beard made of snow and didn't have a job but he 'drove a truck!'. His glasses connected in the middle and his amazing wife (who we later met) wore pants the colour of pumpkins. The love he had for the Australian land shone in his eyes as he spoke of its history, a true patriot, seeking to share it with the generations below his own. A passion rarely seen.
In just the blink of an eye later (a blink lasting a day and a half) there we suddenly were, all 15 or so of us Canberra FINDers, sitting around the huge square table that would be our learning headquarters for the next 3 days. With brains buzzing with questions and mouths blurting out 'hilarious' things, we watched inspiring clips of this and that, spoke of everything photographic and business, family and passion, and everything in between. And how, really, they're all just one big thing, this thing we call life.
By morning we squeezed the knowledge out of Jon, Yoda in man form, who shared with us everything we asked of him and more.
By afternoon, our necks burnt in the summer sun as we shot couples in love, families in love, even pending babies, who everyone present loved in advance.
And by night, well, that's a whole other story. Let's just say there were Kangaroo steaks, ridiculous stories, of stove tops and poking, and a billion zillion laughs that left my jaw aching as I hit the hay at 2am each night. Except that one night where we slept on the roof, I think that was a 3am bed time..
There were Contaxs and Minoltas, Pentaxs and Canons, rolls of Fuji and Kodak and some miscellaneous film goods from the Asian continent. But what wasn't there, was egos and discrimination. There was no hate, just love and all other things good.
Driving home, Jonathan said something to me I will never forget. We were talking about goals and aspirations, and I told him of my doubts and fears. And you know what he said to me? Imagine this in an American accent, coming from a man who had just rapped the entire lyrical content of some old-school beatz that I can't quite recall, and then sung (loudly) 'Me Party' by Miss Piggy from the Muppets latest movie:
"Reach for the stars, yo!"
Mr Canlas, your workshop changed a lot of things for me. Not only did your wealth of knowledge act as a bath in which all of us were able to splash and swim (a strange choice of metaphor, I must admit), but your approach to life and education has triggered something in my mind that makes me want to do this whole 'life' thing better, smarter and with more enthusiasm than ever before.
& Film Is Not Dead will change a lot of things for you too. It's not just a workshop about film, or photography. It's something else. An experience.
Jonathan, Joe, Luisa, Nicole (and your beautiful girls), Eva, Jarred, Ulyana, Jennifer, Brilliana, Hugo, Christine, James, Patricia, Matthew, Alex, Joel, Jason, Natalie and Hailey: Thank you ALL for being the best adopted family that could ever have happened.
If you are interested in attending FIND in 2012, everything is sold out EXCEPT for FIND Mexico Nov 12th-14th in San Miguel (HERE). Email me for details. Flights are cheap and so is the Villa we've rented ($75 a night including all meals and transport from the airport!!!).
I might just sing you a Muppets tune as well :).