Friday, July 15, 2011
Est-ce que Je suis chanceux?
The answer isn't always an easy one. What is easy is to get caught up in the moments. It is easy to lose sight of the big picture when facing setbacks & unfair, unjust criticism. It is easy to get caught up in a defense, a justification, an un-winable argument. I am currently caught up, trying to remember what the bigger picture is.
I am faced with the loss of something dear and defining to me, of me. I had a chance and it is gone. It was a chance, through appreciation for what I created in Chasing Legends, to be paid as a professional to do something similar. Or so it was sold to me. The opportunity to take my work from indy-film to prime-time NBC sports. For millions of Americans to see. To do what I do best and show people a perspective of a spectacle few get to experience. The chance of a lifetime to prove I belong, I am capable, I CAN. The heady thoughts of success filled my entire being. I was going to succeed or die trying.
I did not succeed, I am not dead, so where am I? For reasons I cannot explain I am no longer shooting the Tour de France, I am no longer part of it. My role was reversed from journalist to spectator and as quick as I type these words I have lost my breath, my direction and my raison d'étre. That is where I am.
I cannot always control what happens. An obvious statement not so obviously learned. Should I type how lucky I felt in the big picture of my life to have had what, in my small picture mind was the biggest opportunity I've ever had and end there? Should I only focus on the chance and not what came of it? Should I post a few photos sure to elicit an emotional response akin to jealousy and envy so to leave you thinking something other than truth? Will you continue to read these words wondering where it went wrong or will you rest easy with the thought of what might have been and walk away?
View from our first hotel, day 1
We hit the ground running, prepared for battle and ready for whatever the Tour would through at us. We landed in Paris, assembled the team and drove to Vendee. Curtis, armed and ready.
I had extra work each day, tending to the bandages on my hand, hoping I wouldn't pull apart the 5 tiny stitches holding my finger tendon together. If i forgot and picked up one heavy object it would snap quickly and painfully.
From there we worked hard all day, every day, late into the nights. Our travel averaged 3 cities a day amidst finding our subjects, shooting, importing the footage and then editing up a 3-5 min feature in less than 24 hours.
We were mobile and effective, it was working. We ran into technical issues and worked through them. We ran into logistical issues and found ways around them.
We ran into brick walls and scaled over them. They hired us to shoot and produce one feature each day. By the time they flicked us I was editing out two per day. We took the viewer behind the lines with soigneurs, press agents, sport directors. We were set to do a feature on the chefs,
However we were hit from behind by a juggernaut bent on destruction and it ruined us despite our résistance..
Still the ever-present beauty of France is something that we never lost sight of
I was told I failed. I do not agree. I was told I brought in nothing of value yet every day of the tour our footage and interviews were used. Tyler was always nice to give us time when we asked. Stoked to see him win on the 4th. He was so happy.
Thor, best friends with Jens, is not as talkative but gave us plenty. No one else got interviews like we did.
The details of the argument will be left to the litigious ones. What cannot be denied is that my greatest chance, the most glaring potential for furthering my pathetic career has been blown to bits. Once again the sweet taste of success, before I could swallow it down and feel content has turned bitter. I risked so much to make it happen, finding a surgeon who would mend my hand only a few days before I was set to leave the country.
I spent thousands and thousands of dollars gearing up for the effort. I studied, researched and learned all I could in the few weeks I had before it began. I gave up sleep and fitness to be as prepared as possible ... yet still it all came to an abrupt halt. And while I know in my heart I did not fail, the status of my 'here and now' is the same. All that can be changed is the perspective from which the picture is viewed.
My failure consists of having turned in our media passes, no longer allowed behind the barriers or past the guards. Not one of the 8 features we produced was aired, regardless of my opinion that it was some of my finest work.
Before leaving we watched another stage finish, this time without cameras rolling.
We reluctantly said our goodbyes to the crew we had just begun to bond with.
Our path had officially changed into an unclear direction
We e-mailed our team contacts and broke our engagements, much to their dismay. The Tour headed South as we drove North, retreating many hours to Lyon where Jeremy lives.
We took a few hours to be human & decompress.
Curtis went for a ride on his bike while JZ and I fired up the motos.
As I began a new campaign to secure a client mid-Tour (the likeliness bleak at best) we took Curtis to the airport.
And then there were two. It was a task to find a smile. JZ lost his.
We did some filming in Ternand, a thousand year old village built high on a hill to help keep the boarders of Lyon secure centuries ago. The remains of its castle are a perfect backdrop for interviews. With no one left to finish the story we did it ourselves. Most likely never to be seen.
A day later we turned in our rental car and braved the highways on our only remaining form of transportation, JZ's motorcycle.
He took me around Lyon to see some of the sights including Notre-Dame de Fourviére
We met up with Jeremy's friends and celebrated Bastille Day downtown, under the brilliant display of fireworks over the basilica.
I was amazed at how quiet and orderly everyone in the crowd was. No one was shouting, no drunken shoving or fighting, everyone was quiet and respectful. Clearly not American.
I cannot easily, perhaps permanently undue what opinions my former client may have formed of me and my ability or lack thereof. I cannot change the fact of where I sit and what I now spend my time on compared to where I was and what I think I should be doing.
Jeremy has had a tough time as well.
If nothing else the return to Lyon let him deal with his issues in person. He is eager to get back to being creative in his own way, drawing & photographing the beautiful women of Lyon.
I try to travel my path in life engulfing myself in the full experience of it, good or bad. I will not hesitate to share with anyone who cares to read of my fulfilling and justifying success or my horrible, depressing failure. I figure if nothing else perhaps my roller coaster may prove entertaining. What happens tomorrow is completely unknown. Where i will be in a week is even more hidden from me. All I know is amidst the highs, lows and excitement of it all I am indeed lucky, even when I am not. Am I happy? I'd prefer to answer that one another day.
Posted by Jason Berry at 9:23 AM