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Manifesto for a Utopia, Pt. 1

If somebody were to wave a magic wand and ask me what would I really like to be doing with myself, tomorrow, next week, in three years, the answer would be necessarily vague, non-specific, but certain: what I really enjoy, what makes me feel fulfilled, is to be with a small-ish group of like-minded – or at least open-minded – and selfless individuals, creating things (namely films – at least for the moment). A kind of collective – non-hierarchical – which would enable the conditions for creating ideas (in the first instance) and facilitating their realisation. Something which is bigger than the individuals which comprise it, for whom the shared purpose is the group itself. If such a thing were created, then I – and, hopefully, all the group’s members – would be willing to help out in any way with carrying out the group’s objectives.

With regard to film-making, this could be “creative” jobs – such as writing, directing, photographing – or “technical” or facilitative jobs, like producing, carried out either as and when required or more formally divided between people, but always with the group’s goal in mind. In my experience, a certain division of labour is required when making a film to enable the film to be made efficiently, so it is best to have one director, one DoP, etc. But the group’s ethos of egalitarianism and finding and developing one another’s talents would mean that turns can be taken in doing more or less “desirable” jobs; ultimately, the nature of one’s job on a specific film would fall into insignificance, as it is the film itself – not to mention the solidarity of the group – which is greater than any individual ambition or “ego”.

This is my ideal. It may sound utopian, and I won’t pretend that I am an utterly selfless individual, untainted by personal ambition and solely committed to the advancement of others above myself. But this vision does come out of a desire to believe in something bigger than myself, to which I can dedicate myself. This may seem a rather old-fashioned concept in our secular age of postmodern individualism, in which one’s career and more-or-less immediate sensual gratification are considered predominant – our rationale for existing, almost. The notion of ‘working for something bigger than oneself’ may carry connotations of religiosity or with distinctly ‘modernist’ narratives of social advancement. But I think that – perhaps for these very reasons – there is something quite radical about such a proposition.

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