As Sally Potter travels around the world with 'YES'
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Christopher and the rest of the team at Adventure Pictures organized a day-long ‘masterclass’ for me to give in London. I was a bit resistant at first, always feeling there is ‘no time’, because my own work is always so demanding of my energy. But following the ‘Talent Lab’ in Toronto, and the many long question and answer sessions around the world, which often function like workshops, in addition to the various lectures and panels I frequently get asked to do (two in the London Film Festival alone, both on the subject of ‘The Future of British Film’) it seemed a good idea to set something up on our own terms. I wanted it to be intimate enough for all the participants to really feel included, listened to, and helped. In the end there were about thirty people in the room, a good number, and it seemed there was space and opportunity for all of them.

I began by talking about the ‘longing’ I had felt in people’s descriptions of themselves and the reasons why they wanted to attend (that each participant had been asked to send in advance). I wanted to encourage and welcome the feeling of longing, the flame that was secretly burning. And I invited each person to be ambitious in their expectations for themselves in the day. We so often set limits on the possible. Sometimes it is enough to decide: this will be the day, the turning point. In effect it is a decision to wake up.

As the day progressed, with the opportunity to answer each person’s question carefully and in depth, the atmosphere in the room became dense with a kind of sweet melancholy, the melancholy of hope and desire. It seems that the opportunities for filmmakers and other artists to honestly connect with the passion and intensity of their desire to work is rare. To hope for a big life, to do something of use on a big canvas…. How much we have learnt to hide of our real intentions. How seductive and empty are the rewards for the cynical and the formulaic. How little is risk encouraged. How little understood is the need for a disciplined life, a dedicated life, if one is to achieve anything that might nourish the secret, unheard lives of others. How slow is the progress towards clarity.

As their faces opened up more and more I felt a great love for each one in the room, some of whom had traveled from as far as the USA, Turkey or Estonia for the occasion.

Maybe, just maybe, I will do it again.

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Text © Sally Potter. All pictures © Adventure Pictures unless otherwise indicated