About ten years ago today I was watching this mini-series on CBC called Human Cargo, which focused on human trafficking post-911. It was an incredibly well done and an eye opening mini-series and it inspired me to look further into my dream of creating television like that for Canadians. That winter I applied for the broadcasting at Mount Royal College and I was more than thrilled to have gotten in after interviews and testing. Upon entering college I initially thought I wanted to work on the news production side of the broadcasting industry to produce television like Human Cargo. In the Broadcasting Program you have to take both news and creative in the first semester and boy I am glad that we did. That first semester was in 2004 and it was a very turbulent time in the world before Saddam Hussein was killed and people were being beheaded on live television. News, while informative and eye-opening, is incredibly dark and while I am not the most sunshiny, happy person – I was not dark enough to withstand a career in news. Luckily as I was making that realization I discovered the joy of creative radio and television writing. The Broadcasting Program at Mount Royal College is very hands on. If you had an idea, you could produce it for a project and see it come through. We did radio dramas, television infomercials, music videos and all sorts of creative projects. In my writing classes, where I could brainstorm an idea and work with my classmates to produce it and then edit it to my liking, those were the happiest times of my life and brought me back to that drama class bliss of high school. We would get a lot of guest speakers coming in to tell us how challenging the broadcasting industry was with a decrease in jobs and not that much money for the work you would be doing and you would likely start out in a small town. Little did our little eager asses know, that there lay truth in their foreshadowing.
We called the first few months after Broadcasting, retirement because we just sat around waiting for a call-backs from our tapes and resumes we sent out. Until one day my best friend Sherri and I got tired of waiting and decided to take a road-trip to basically beg for work and amazingly enough it worked out and I got my first job in the industry in Saskatoon at Rawlco Radio. I was thrilled and my mother was devastated but I thought I would like Saskatoon. Sure, I am not really a small city kind of person but our fall tour of the city made it seem like a laidback, cool city. It was not until I weathered the four month blizzard that I came scurrying back and left Sherri, who had just come to help me settle in, to develop a seriously admirable career in television with Global Saskatoon. I moved back without a job or a plan and was lucky enough to get a job as a National Account Coordinator and Junior Creative Writer at Corus Calgary. My job was 70% processing paperwork for agency and supplied commercials and 30% writing for the smaller clients. While I truly hated 70% of my job, the 30% where I could come up with an idea for a client and then see it through to production gave me that sought after thrill and kept me at Corus for almost four years, until I was laid off.
It is at this point every dream and plan for my career just all went up in the air. When I got laid off, instead of be broken by it, I saw it as a sign to wake up and explore. I had never really traveled and my severance cheque gave me opportunity to go and explore this world I had only seen on a screen or page. My travels came after a long period of depression and it brought me back to myself. I consider that time in my life a miracle, it truly resurrected me. When I got back into the job market in Calgary there was no work in the broadcasting industry, so I looked elsewhere and found temporary work with the government until I found my current position at an oil and gas event company. The money is double what I was making at Corus and almost triple what I was making in Saskatoon and I have been lucky enough to work with great people. There are a few rare moments when I can have that rush of the idea but maybe it is because of the dryness of my subject matter, the rush is just not the same. I was starting to forget about it to be honest until I started to take adult improv classes at Loose Moose Theatre. I can’t fully find the words to describe the feeling I have when I am up on stage when things are going well with my partner up there, the ideas are flowing and we’re creating this little story. And it does matter how small that audience is, all that matters is that we are creating an idea and seeing it through in a way that makes people either laugh or think about the world in a different way. Any time I get to do that, those have been the best moments in my life.
Ten years ago, I was naïve, brave and crazy enough to take a leap and attempt to chase in my dream of working in television. And today, in 2014, my resolution (along with the old, lose weight one) is to pursue my creative pursuits, to see my ideas through and to be crazy and brave enough to see that dream through.
I pray for courage, tenacity and most importantly, money!