On being inspired

My One DemandOn Friday afternoon, I was asked if I could spare 20 minutes or so to watch a test of My One Demand, Blast Theory’s latest wonderfully ambitious project which is premiering in Toronto at the end of June. It is an interactive film in one continuous shot that will be live streamed online and to selected cinemas in Canada. Preparations for this incredibly technically challenging work are in full swing and on Friday the studios were covered in complicated-looking bits of steadycam and live streaming equipment. I took a quick break from what I was doing to watch footage live from the streets of Portslade whilst I provided answers to questions that popped up on my iPhone, so they could be fed into the script in real time.

Inevitably, there were a few technical glitches as the Portslade bandwidth struggled to keep up with the live stream. The artists were a bit apologetic about my experience as Test Audience. I assured them I had really enjoyed it – the script is brilliant, the camera work was great. It’s going to be a beautiful piece of work, I know they will pull it off. What I wanted to say, really, was that for me the fact that, casually, as part of my working day, I got asked to test a brilliant new work by an internationally renowned artists’ group is, well… I can’t even put it into words. Eighteen months ago, the most exciting part of my day might have been that there was a fire drill and we got to stand outside in the sun for a bit.

It made me think how important it is to feel inspired at work. In the 10 years of my last career, I rarely felt inspired. And I sure as hell never felt inspired in the same way I did on Friday. The thing is, over the last year or so I have worked with so many interesting people making great work all around me that it’s almost become unremarkable. Except that it’s not: I am exceedingly grateful, all the time.

What’s even better, of course, is playing a part in making something inspiring happen. I realise that this is where I feel happiest: I genuinely do not have any artistic ambitions myself, but I love helping others realise theirs. Running the Kickstarter for Karen, which launched at Tribeca’s Storyscapes in April and has now been downloaded over 8,000 times, means I played a tiny role in making that project a reality – and I am quite proud of that. When did I ever feel proud of anything in my last job? It’s telling that I never used to share anything work-related on Facebook or Twitter, or in fact even bother to follow my old company’s social media outlets. I was always quick to dissociate myself from work and underline that that wasn’t me, really. Now, I like and share and favourite and retweet away, and I don’t care if it makes me look like a crazy fangirl.

The experience of an inspiration-less job (I do feel harsh for saying that – but after seriously thinking about it for several minutes, I still can’t think of anything that was particularly inspiring about my old job) really does make you appreciate feeling inspired by your working environment and the people you work with. Of course, different people are inspired by different things. I’m sure there is someone out there who finds business planning exceedingly inspiring, and good luck to them. And inspiration doesn’t have to be on a grand scale – it can be an inspiring talk with someone by the coffee machine, or an interesting workshop. I am truly lucky that my inspiration comes from seeing people make pioneering artwork – and I will never take that for granted.

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