The true measure of success

It’s been a while since my last blog, seven weeks in fact. Since I last wrote, we’ve finished post-production on Season 3, held a season launch, and released the first episode free on YouTube, as well as the whole season for download on Vimeo. This is our third season launch in 8 months. It’s been a really intense time, but it feels like much of that hard work is starting to pay off. The 12 episodes that make up Seasons 1 and 2 have had around 3.8 million views since March, the series is starting to attract interest from investors and is also gaining some recognition from press, both locally and internationally. Despite this recent success or, perhaps, because of it, I’ve been thinking about the period of time leading up to this. And when I say “period of time” I’m talking about a period of around 10 or 11 years.

When I finished film school at the end of 2002 I emerged not only with a Masters degree in Scriptwriting, but also with a certain degree of hope and expectation. I’d just graduated from the premier film school in the country, surely the world was my oyster. Surely not.

For whatever reason, or combination of reasons, employment wasn’t forthcoming. In hindsight, it was probably due to a lack of experience, confidence and talent, but may also have had something to do with the size of the Australian film and television industries. But I wasn’t discouraged, not yet. It gave me time to concentrate on my own writing. And I did. I wrote a number of short and feature film scripts, the majority of which never saw the light of day. As time went on, the prospect of actually seeing one of my scripts get made seemed more and more unlikely.

I can’t even begin to remember how often I thought about giving up and it was during that period that I was at my lowest. There were times when I felt so disheartened and inconsolable that I thought about not only giving up on writing, but giving up on everything. I kept wondering how you know when it’s time to stop, when you’ve given something everything you can and you just have to cut your losses and admit defeat. But for some reason, I’m not even sure what it was, I managed to make it through and even when I’d decided to quit, I found myself writing again.

It was only until recently that I considered that period to not only have been a waste of time, but also an embarrassment. There was a yawning gap in my resume, a chasm of failure, disappointment and unfulfilled promise. It was only in the last couple of months, however, that I realized that time wasn’t wasted. It was during those years that I developed the skills and resilience needed in order to not only make Starting From … Now!, but also to make the most of the past 18 months. While I hope to never have to revisit some of those dark times, in a way I’m glad it happened like it did and I’m glad I didn’t give up.

Who knows what will become of Starting From … Now! and who knows what the future will bring. In a way, it doesn’t really matter. Number of seasons, episodes, views, it’s all well and good but it’s not a true measure of success. Success is finding your way through and refusing to give up, both on yourself and what you love. 

By Julie Kalceff