I’m not really a gamer, but I did finally get into Animal Crossing this summer.

Anyway, in 2016 I started making a video game called A Bipolar Journey. This year I got to revisit it and put on the last two levels that I’d wanted to include for ages. Four years! To be honest most of that time I wasn’t working on it. I would apply for arts grants to work on it, but for some reason I was too intimidated to go back in and relearn how to use Unity, and how to code in C# again. It just seemed like too much for me.

But this year DMG here in Toronto and the Digital Artist in Residence program at Mackenzie Art Gallery helped me finish it.

My goal ALWAYS was to end the story of coming to terms with having bipolar disorder with a level that described what it feels like to go back out into the community and have freedom and also try to stay stable on the meds they give you. So I wanted one pill that brought you up, and one that brought you down. It’s a simplistic look at my bipolar medications (I’m actually on three specifically for my moods, an antidepressant, an antipsychotic, and a mood stabilizer) but I didn’t want to get into having THREE types of meds fall from the sky. Plus I didn’t know what the third would do. So there are two.

Here is the final result!

I originally was gonna use the same bleeps that happen in the first level when antidepressants hit you, but this time around I wanted zaps in honour of the first side effect I ever had from psych meds. Paxil zaps are AWFUL and I don’t even know how to describe them to people who’ve never had them, but they really did suck. My medications now don’t really cause side effects, or if they do I am used to them. I am probably fatter because of them but it’s been almost 20 years and I don’t care so much.

I redid the opener screen for my game too, and renamed it. It is not A Bipolar Journey anymore, now it’s just Bipolar Journey. Why have an A?

I’m pretty happy that I finally finished, AND on time too!

The shoot a couple weekends ago was TOUGH and intense! I don’t really want to talk about it online, but I did learn a whole bunch of stuff which was pretty cool. I also got to work with a full crew for the first time, and driving scenes, and stunts, and pyrotechnics. It was pretty amazing in retrospect, although I remember the last night just being anxious to get through as much of the shot list before dawn. It’s pretty nervewracking when time is tight like that. I don’t know how directors get away with extending shoots into eternity, like those ones where people are supposed to shoot for six weeks and end up doing three months. I guess that’s what money gets you.

BUT we are gonna find an editor and do some amazing work with this amazing footage and I am pretty happy about that.

So far this year I have finished a two channel video installation, a short experimental film, a webseries episode script, a multi level video game, and if things are on track I will be done a feature film script and this dramatic short we shot by the end of this year. Not bad for someone trying to work during a pandemic!

I didn’t get a recent grant I applied for, so I’m a bit leery of my income these next few months. There are two arts councils I can apply to for individual projects, so I am trying to think of something good to apply for. I’ve also managed to qualify for CERB because I did lose income with this pandemic (some of these projects this year were non-paying!) so now that CERB is done I might try to see if I qualify for the next iteration of income support. I also want to get gigs though, but things are really up in the air.

I am wondering if when we can travel again, I can turn more of it down and do online versions instead. I was REALLY wore out from traveling the last couple of years, even tho I went to amazing places, and this respite from getting on planes and being able to stay home has been REALLY NICE. I do still want to travel one day, but the way it was going before was unsustainable for both myself and the environment. So I dunno, I think the arts and entertainment industry needs to take this time to look at the way we treated travel before and how we can limit it in the future. Because it really doesn’t have to be this way.

I’m in the New York Film Festival this year, and all their programs are geolocked to the USA. SO that kinda sucks, but they are giving me an Industry pass so I can see films that AREN’T geolocked.

I’m not sure what I think about geolocking. I understand the impulse, wanting to keep film festivals local and stuff. But at the same time some of these film festivals are international, and yet the international artists showing in them can’t watch from overseas/over borders. I imagine it’s probably about wanting to limit the number of people logging on to watch something. But then why not sell limited tickets?

Anyway, that is a larger question for film fests and filmmakers these days to grapple with.

I am pretty happy these days, which is good. I was wore out from the shoot, but seeing the footage and then going back to my video game has made me feel creative again, which is nice.

ALSO the short film is based on the feature I am writing. And seeing the actress embody that role made me see my lead character in a more emotionally full way. I don’t know, for some reason at some point I just started writing this character like she was basically constantly dissociated. But I don’t see her that way anymore. So that was cool to realize.

What else? Eh, I have a fun crush right now, but it’s not going anywhere. I always have crushes tho. I do feel like I am ready to fall in love though, like the way I felt last fall before I got my heart stomped on. Like I am ready! I am there! I’m picky though. And a little timid sometimes too.

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