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July 2018

Day-to-Day

Fake it until…

July 27, 2018

When I was a kid I suddenly wanted to go to school wearing a red cape. “People don’t go to school wearing a cape, Tito…” I didn’t care.

Getting a haircut was always a stressful process (I still haven’t figured out why), so when I was ten I decided I would let my hair grow – and for the next two years I didn’t get it cut. On multiple occasions I was mistaken for a girl. Then I got tired of the long hair but I didn’t wanna lose it all, so I left a little wisp at the back of my head at full length and cut the rest of it short. That was a call for jokes from all sides. I still didn’t care.

My mom constantly complained about how under-dressed I was, or how old my clothes were/looked. This was a recurring comment until I moved out. I never really took it as criticism, but as an observation.

All these examples involve engagement from my parents and I’m grateful they didn’t force me into anything – even the things they didn’t agree, like dressing nicely. Thank you! This intro is running a bit long, so let’s get to the point. There is a common thread between all these stories and the title of this post.

I have a serious issue with keeping up appearances, or, the way it’s popular among artists, “Fake it until you make it”. This implies that to get anywhere you have to play pretend, dress a certain way, avoid this or that subject, go to all the parties (“the parties are where all the business happens, man!”), always be ready to speak about how great you are and how your art is gonna change the world. Writing this already got me wound up.

All these “suggestions” and “guidelines” of “how to succeed” (notice the great number of irony quotation marks here) make me laugh and think “how the heck did I end up in this art thing?”, then I remember it was because I care about my work and not my looks. I grew up hearing “if you love what you do, work will come your way” from my parents and, honestly, that is one of the truest things in life. Not “if you pretend to care, people will care”.

Summarize a party for me, would you kindly? “Loud music, small space, lots of people, alcohol”. Does that sound like a recipe to success for you? If yes, I’m betting you’re an extrovert. This is the second part of why I hate so much faking. I’m an introvert – and I know I’m not the only one in this industry. If the gold standard of success is the number of people you know, I’m failing hard. The less extra noise I have in life, the better I feel. So I’m not about getting someone’s card, saying “I love your work” even though I have no clue what their work is, and “I’ll be in touch!”. I’m happy with five good friends. I like getting to know people. I like long talks about deep subjects. I like working with someone before I commit to them. These things don’t happen at parties. Plus I don’t drink, so after half an hour of being immersed in a sea of “look at me! look AT ME! LOOK AT ME!!!!!!” I’m ready to go to bed.

I feel as a group we’re too concerned with form and very little into function. It’s easy to prove that point just by bringing up a graph for explosions vs box office for Michael Bay’s movies. Before you ask: yes, more explosions equal higher profits. We live in a time in which one explosion isn’t enough to solve a problem. It’s all about being brighter and louder. I don’t see that as healthy and I will not play by these rules. That comes as big challenge but I’m used to not having things easy, so I know I’ll be ok.

What bothers me the most is these things are taught in school. I took this class twice – once at VFS, then again at Langara – so I know it wasn’t a one-off weird aspect of a specific program. Guess what happens when you try to tell a bunch of people to fake their feelings and act like something else? It’ll stick for a little bit, then it wears off with the wonderful “what am I doing with my life?”, quickly leading into a career change. Out of both my VFS and Langara classes, I’m pushing it if I say half of them are still into making films. Why do you think that happens? We also have a lot of depressed people. Does it sound random?

Lastly, an analogy with 2008’s economic crisis. In short, people bought and sold their stocks based on assumed value and claims that everything is perfect. But they lied and the whole world got screwed. So let’s assume we’re making this film and I’m faking that everything is going well on my department. When the other heads of department see that I’m doing fine, they don’t want to cause trouble so they say everything is great on their end too, and this keeps on going. The film is going flawless. Then one big problem lands front and center. Everyone is so full of problems they refuse to admit that no one can tackle that extra problem. “It’s not my department”, “So and so said they had this under control”, or the classic “We’re waiting for the funds to come through”. That causes everything to crumble to pieces and the project is put on hold forever.

It’s not healthy and it’s hard to break through. I’m happier with my small victories than doing things I don’t agree with in the hopes of being picked up to fame and fortune. I couldn’t care less about fame.

Day-to-Day

WARM.

July 17, 2018

There’s a thing of beauty about sunny and hot days. Back home – in Brazil – those used to be my default, but in Vancouver temperatures only rise above 25°C a handful of times through the year (usually packed in a few weeks in July).

We’re on the third in a row of these days today. I spent all three of them wandering outside. Not “doing things outside”, just moving from place to place either on foot or biking. After every couple of hours I’d settle on a patch of grass, or a beach, or a park bench and simply exist there.

That’s usually a challenging task for me. My mind is constantly racing with the things I need to get done, or bubbling up with new ideas, questions and reflections. In these sunny days it all quiets down and, just like my cat, all I need is to move somewhere without a roof over my head and lay there.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but my mood is directly related to how sunny each day is. There’s not much that could be better today.

Day-to-Day

“Fortune but Finally.”

July 8, 2018

When I went to Japan earlier this year, Ari and I went to a temple to get our fortunes. The one I got is the title of this post. At first I was confused on what that could mean, but as I read through it, my fortune couldn’t be more right – and it sucked. Here are the exact words:

“You will be suffering from disease and get depreciated by other people. You are always attacked by danger, so you can’t get through everything. When spring comes, you may meet a happiness. You should make a perfect and good plan and wait for a good chance, with patience.”

“*Your request will not be granted. *The patience will get well in a little while. *Lost article will not be found. *The person you wait for arrives late. *Building a new house and removal are both well. *Now is a good time to start a trip. *Both any kind of marriage, and new employment are medium fortune.”

“But Tito, if you’ll get what you want in the end, why does it suck so much? At least it’s not a bad fortune!”

You know what? Maybe a bad fortune would’ve been better. I’d at least know that NOTHING would work out and just let go of all worry and stress. The fact that things eventually get sorted is what sucks, because they don’t get sorted out by themselves: I have to do it all myself. It’s not like this is something new that I just read or thought about. Ask my parents, my sister, ask my therapist, or my girlfriend! For as long as I can remember I’ve always got to where I wanted, but the costs to succeeding have always been way higher than expected or planned for. Not like $50 or $500 kind of higher but “Tito-you’re-dying-and-you-should-get-some-sleep-or-look-for-a-doctor” higher.

This led me to become a very negative person for almost everything in life. This is what I’ve experienced so far: if something can go wrong, it will go wrong. If something is surefire to work out, luck will find a way to mess it up and it will go wrong. I’ve never had anything work out in the first try. Hell, most times I get to the tenth try and things are still broken. But I can’t relax and accept things weren’t meant to be because in the end they will work out as I die trying.

Do you want some examples? Here’s a couple.

1 – I’ve been making videos on YouTube for three years every week. In the beginning of each video I say my name. The channel has my name and last name in writing. To this day, it’s hard to come by someone either saying or writing my name right – and not just online. In my graduation ceremony they said my name wrong as I walked across the stage – they had a phonetic spelling! Remember how luck always finds a way to mess up surefire solutions? Anyway, English’s doesn’t have the right phonemes for people to say my name properly without trying hard, so I got used to people calling me anything that vaguely resembles my name. This week a big photo/video portal published a review that pointed to my channel. Needless to say they misspelled my name. Is there even a point in trying to get it right?

2 – Last week I bought some lights from China. They shipped through the fastest option provided by DHL. The package was supposed to arrive on Tuesday evening. I’ve grown used to my packages being delayed or disappearing for long stretches of time for no reason – all companies that tried have failed (UPS, CanadaPost, FedEx) – so to give DHL a better shot at success I stayed home all day. All they had to do was show up. I even signed a form that allowed them to deliver without getting a signature so if they tried the classic move of knocking too lightly, they’d still have to drop off the box at the door. At 7pm I checked tracking for it and it was marked as delivered. I walked out the door to get it but the box wasn’t there. So I went to the front door – as some delivery folks are too lazy to go through the back – and it wasn’t there either. I checked with our landlord and she had nothing for me.

Of course it was already too late to call their customer service, so I sent a message on their website. At 9am I get a response saying they’ll call me with updates in two hours. You guessed it right. The call never came. So I gave them a few more hours just to make sure and then I called in. No updates, they guaranteed they’d have something for me the next day by 2pm. You also know where this is going, right? Next day, no package, no call. I called, they said the driver informed he delivered the package to the landlord, some guy named “R. Scott”. Then I go “well, there’s no R. Scott in the house I live”. “Are you sure?”. Dammit, phone person, I’ve lived here for more than a year. You think I wouldn’t know? “Yes, I’m sure. I just asked my landlord once more and she said there were no packages delivered”. “Oh, okay. On Monday we’re telling the driver to go back and pick up the package wherever he dropped it”.

And down the drain went my hopes of using these lights on the project I’m about to shoot, starting on Monday. Plus, how would I manage the issue from set? I just resigned to accepting failure.

Then, Saturday evening comes around and I get a text from my landlord saying that a gentleman two blocks down received the box by accident and brought it back to us. I can’t believe my luck. After one week of trying hard, I finally succeeded – and not thanks to DHL. Fifteen minutes later I realize my wallet has jumped out of my pocket. Two hours looking for it yield no result. I am now without any documents, bank cards and money. I can’t get a new card because I need ID, I can’t get new ID because I can’t go anywhere this week since I’m on set. It’s gonna be a fun week. I figured the best way to save money is to have no access to it at all. Let’s see how that goes.

I just want a break. You know, for things to go well, or to go as planned, or even to go in a “phew-that-wasn’t-impossible” way.

DISCLAIMER: I know there’s tons more of people who are in a much harder situation and don’t have the privilege I have to be where I am – but I still have the need to vent. This is a blog, and this is one of the most personal entries in a while. :)