Up There Kirsty Strain

“Don’t Wait to Be Discovered”- Zam Salim, Director of ‘Up There’

“You realize at a certain point that what you’re doing is storytelling and everything- the writing, the directing, the editing- is just part of that fundamental skill.”

Zam Salim is a writer and filmmaker based in Scotland whose debut feature Up There recently won the Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema at Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The (sold-out) UK premiere of the film is tomorrow night at the Glasgow Film Festival.

With Up There Salim presents the initial stages of the afterlife as a mundane purgatory in which individuals are doomed to continue to walk the streets where they lived, but cannot be seen by anyone, including the loved ones they left behind, or even open doors or pick things up.

Unravelling the Truth With FOUND & Aidan Moffat

“Everything starts with the truth and goes somewhere else”

Aidan Moffat 

The Edinburgh-based FOUND Arts Collective have followed their brilliant (and BAFTA-winning) Cybraphon project with a new interactive sound installation called #unravel. They’ve collaborated with songwriter and storyteller extraordinaire Aidan Moffat, former frontman of Arab Strap and who recently collaborated with Bill Wells for the excellent ‘Everything’s Getting Older’ project.

I spoke to FOUND and Aidan Moffat at the launch of the project yesterday at Edinburgh’s Inspace Gallery and cobbled together this video today (despite a number of technical difficulties!) to give you an idea of what the project involves.

Fear not though as there will be a proper short documentary about the project coming soon – for more details see the official website.

#UNRAVEL opens to the public on 20 April – 7 May as part of Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art at Arch 24/ SWG3.

The Ditch the Day Job Diaries – Episode 1

Below is the trailer for the first episode of the Ditch the Day Job Diaries.

The full first episode will only be available to email subscribers and will go into more detail of how I am building a freelance business and adjusting to a whole new lifestyle!

Sign up below and receive the first episode tomorrow (Thursday 9th Feb 2012).

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Alex Mathers from Red Lemon Club

I’ve been a fan of Alex Mathers and his Red Lemon Club blog for quite some time. The site provides really solid advice for freelance creatives of all kinds. Alex’s own speciality is illustration, a topic covered by his other site, Ape on the Moon – so he talks from experience – and of course this means all of his sites and products are extremely well designed.

Alex is releasing a new ebook today designed to demystify the latest social network from Google that hardly anyone seems to know how to use properly, Google+. The guide is designed specifically to help creative freelancers to attract new clients and simplify their online presence. As you can see from the below interview, he knows his stuff.

Please can you describe who you are and what you are up to at the moment?

I’m a London, UK-based self-taught illustrator and writer working on various illustration projects, including something for Wired magazine right now. I run a website called Red Lemon Club that aims to help other freelancers, entrepreneurs and creatives with going it alone, finding clients, doing business, and so on.

I’m about to make a move to Tokyo to experience things from a different perspective and can’t wait!

Did you always know what you wanted to do (creatively) or has it been a process of trial and error to get to the point you’re at now? If it’s the latter, how did you decide what to focus on?

Practically everything that I’ve ever done up until this point has been a result of trial and error, and gradual change. I like to try out new things but also make a point of sticking with something once I’ve started it, and allowing it to evolve over time, fine-tuning as I go.

I’ve stayed focused on particular things, like my illustrations, by always having a vision in mind of where I would like things to go. The thing is, that vision always changes slightly (but not dramatically), and that’s how things progress. When I first started illustrating, things looked a lot different to how they do now.

I’ve Just Run Out of Excuses

Yesterday I left the civil service after almost exactly 10 years to the day I started. You can read some background to this in one of the previous newsletters. Somewhat spookily, given this was my last day of repeating the same routine over and over again, this happened on Groundhog Day.

Another coincidence – on the way to work, I was listening to a playlist of 120 cheesy songs and ‘The Final Countdown’ by Europe came on just as I was approaching the building – at which point I started singing along at the top of my voice, obviously!

Man with a Plan or Unemployed Bum?

Because I voluntarily accepted redundancy, I will receive a decent lump sum. If I’m careful, I can survive on this for a year, even if I didn’t have any other money coming in.

My plan though, is to continue to work as a freelance copywriter, which is something I’ve been doing since I cut down my working week to four days at the beginning of 2011 – but now it will need to be on a much bigger scale because this time next year it will probably be my main source of income.

I also want to ramp up my blogging efforts again. The point of this blog was always to help other creative people find focus and achieve their potential – and I’ve only just scratched the surface so far.

Developing a new business as well as blogging is going to take a lot of focus and discipline, even though I’ll no longer be working a day job at the same time. Key to this is establishing productive habits and spending my days wisely.

I also want to ensure I have time for exercise and my own creative projects/experiments, whilst I have the luxury of being able to structure my own time.

Every Moment Counts

Every moment counts for me this year. It’s hugely important. But what’s new? I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t have done some legwork. I couldn’t have done this if I was heavily overdrawn or in credit card debt for example (I do have student loans but it was under the old system which means I can continue to defer them for the time being).

If I hadn’t already been paid for my writing and other work I might not have had the confidence to take the leap (even then it was a tough decision). My previous job, whilst it had it’s frustrations, did mean I got a lot of experience with digital media and marketing, and the fact I’ve been writing, blogging, using social media and producing audio and video content for many years is also a bonus.

Also worth pointing out is that over a year ago, on the advice of  Jonathan Mead, I set a very specific goal: to ditch my day job by 31st March 2012. This was before I knew the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy would arise. In fact, I forgot that I had done this until I looked at my calendar for 2012 a few weeks ago, but the intention was always at the back of my mind – never underestimate the power of committing to clear and highly specific goals.

One of my leaving gifts

Everything you do is a step in either the right, or wrong direction to achieving what you really want out of life. That’s what this blog is really about. Whatever situation you’re in right now, it’s a good thing to remember. Of course we can also put too much pressure on ourselves – rest and relaxation, enjoying life and HAVING FUN has to be part of the plan too.

This is an important post for me, and I’d  be really grateful if you would share it on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus or wherever you see fit using the handy buttons below.

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p.s. I know I dropped the ball with this blog last year but I’m back now, and I’ve got no more excuses – so expect big things :)