Fresh Milk shares the fifth and final blog post by Barbadian actor & director Levi King, who recently completed the Emerging Directors Residency Programme held in collaboration with the National Cultural Foundation (NCF). Levi’s final blog reflects on the process as a whole; what he has learned, who he has worked with and how he has grown as a director, from writing his initial application to seeing the work come to life during the small showcase held at the close of the residency. Thanks to Levi, his mentor Sonia Williams and his actors Kim Weekes, Dy Browne, Melissa Hunte and Asha Elcock for their stellar work! Read more below:
Trust the process
To be honest, I struggled to write this blog. Not because it is the final blog for the residency process and I’m overwhelmed with emotions and separation anxiety and stuff (cause I’m not, I’ll miss it and the wonderful people who took this journey with me, but I’m not). Nah, I struggled because I knew what I wanted to express but I didn’t know what to say.
I wanted to speak about how my process of learning began even before I set foot in the Fresh Milk residency space. How I had to learn a way to write a proposal, just to apply (I really needed to spend time with making proposals). Fortunately the proposal was accepted and I was chosen.
I wanted to speak about how choosing the work was a difficult choice, then I chose a piece that brought with it its own learning curve. I chose a piece that I felt I was able to use the space most creatively with. I chose a piece that had a story and themes I felt we need to explore in Caribbean media (childhood prostitution, poverty and cycles of abuse). I chose a piece with heavy subject matter. I had to do some cutting and editing which took more time than I anticipated.
I wanted to speak about the books I read which really gave me an insight into some techniques and styles which relate to directing and some acting.
I wanted to speak about how I chose most of the cast before I even applied (they don’t know that though, I chose them before I even asked). I was fortunate they said yes.
I wanted to speak about how I had trouble setting a rehearsal schedule because even though I knew the actors were right for the process, all our times constantly clashed. I had cast one man and three women. One man was unable to continue after the first rehearsal. I had to wait a week to recast. I recast. He played the part great.
I wanted to speak about how I spoke with my mentor. and from the beginning, she was upfront about her concerns and her support. Sonia Williams was fully supportive and fully honest throughout the process. Sometimes even just a simple suggestion, question or non-verbal expression was all I needed to know that I may have other choices to pick from that may be better.
I wanted to speak about how my rehearsal process kept evolving with each rehearsal and each conversation with Sonia.
I wanted to say that I was at times unsure I was making the right choices. That I had fluctuating confidence in my ability to deliver what I wanted to deliver. Not because I wasn’t able, but because I faced several personal challenges during the residency.
That there were challenges that arose at points, not my personal challenges this time, that in my mind threatened to halt the process.
That Janelle Mitchell was great at navigating those challenges with me.
That Katherine Kennedy was also great at navigating those challenges with me.
That actors Kim Weekes, Dy Browne, Melissa Hunte and Asha Elcock and my mentor Sonia were all great at navigating those challenges with me.
That at one point, I felt it may have been best to stop because I was becoming too stressed about what I thought was my inability to finish in the face of the challenges (yes, me, stressed).
That I learned so much more than just how to cut a script and find the story, how to work with actors with this kind of material and how to handle production meetings.
That I was grateful every day i was able to work on this.
That the feedback given was invaluable and deeply appreciated.
That I can be a little more forward in my approach as opposed to laid back, and I still need to work on how I communicate my vision to people who aren’t myself and actors.
That I was glad everything worked out in the end.
I struggled because there is lots I could talk about. There was so much that went through my mind during this process. The biggest lessons I learned weren’t academic, they were personal and professional. The reaffirmation of my love for directing was priceless to me. Being able to learn from a director that I respect and whose work I admire, was great. Even though I had struggles throughout, I was happy.
The biggest lesson I learned, or re-learned was simple…Trust the process.
Till next time
Your friendly neighbourhood rastaman.
This project is a collaborative initiative, funded by the NCF Barbados