It’s interesting just how much one simple, black, cotton t-shirt can teach you.
In 2008, I released my first ever feature documentary. It was a project that came with a number of challenges. The most significant challenge was that I had never made a film before. Ever. Another challenge was that I had to find the funding myself. And, as a first time filmmaker, I shot, produced, directed and distributed the film and travelled to India, China and Tibet for my footage. There were a number of other challenges too, but these sound the most exciting.
The project was a complete immersion of passion, determination and, some might say, an insane commitment. But one thing I was certain about was I wanted to make a film that could shine a spotlight on something that for me, was significant – the contemporary history of Tibet since the Chinese occupation.
The film was screened at 14 international film festivals, in organised screenings across Australia and in places like Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Finland, France, the USA, New Zealand and more. I managed to sell it to two international broadcasters and screened for 4 and 3 years consecutively. I produced and distributed my own DVDs that I tried to get into school and educational institutions as well as private homes, created an online presence (back in 2008 social media was still a relatively new phenomena and really only just beginning) and I even managed to give a final copy to the Dalai Lama (who, on one of my previous trips to India, was kind enough to spend an hour with me for an exclusive interview which somehow I managed to organise).
In short, it was a mammoth journey and the start of my new journey as a documentary filmmaker.
That mammoth journey resulted in an incredible de-cluttering in my life – of possessions like furniture, clothing, jewellery, but also of thoughts and attitude. I think a lot of that was the result of dabbling a little with the wonderful insights of buddhist philosophy. It’s true I reached a point where I had to sell furniture, clothing and jewellery to continue the project but that was also the most sensational part of that entire journey. Being made to get rid of things. And realising just how many things I had. It was around that time that I began wearing jeans and black t-shirts – something simple and easy. The black t-shirt became my symbol of simplicity. And that simplicity became the fundamental underlying principle of my life.
It’s amazing what a black t-shirt can teach you.