What I wish I could have said to my parents about filmmaking

Assalam alaikum dear parents,

I know you were terrified.

If it makes you feel any better, I was too. I had the nervous runs every day.

I mean, there I was, the daughter of Sri Lankans. From Sri Lanka! A tear-drop in the Indian Ocean! Most people don’t even know where the heck we are!

And here I was, telling you I want to make movies for the rest of my life.

Why shouldn’t you be scared? And angry at me for making such mad decisions?

You’d leave home at 7 am and get home past 11 pm every night. Just to send me to uni. And I was going into an industry where living wages aren’t guaranteed, even for mid-career professionals.

You’d raised me to walk with my head held high. And I was going into an industry known for its abuse of women.

Worse still – I wear a hijab. I may as well have been wearing a target.

I’ve been writing screenplays now for about 9 years. I’ve been a filmmaker for two. I’d like to tell you something – you were right. You were right about every. Single. Thing.<

You were right to be mad at me.

You were right to be scared.

All of your reasons weren’t judgments; they are facts. This industry doesn’t pay. And well, the #metoo and #timesup movement are testament to its treatment of women.

But please hear me when I say: If there was anything else I could have done, I would have done it. My other jobs gave me severe anxiety disorder.

I went to work every day with dread like a suffocating blanket. Every Sunday night, the chest pains would be so bad I couldn’t do much more than cower under my blanket.

Apart from the physical pain – those grandchildren you want? They weren’t going to happen. Not with my body like that.

But crap, who the hell do I think I am?

You ran from cages I cannot imagine so I didn’t have to live my life in them. I’m safe. I’m fed. I’m clothed. I’m sheltered. And now I want to make films.

Who does that? People who are free.

Safe minds dream. From those dreams spring art.

Why do you think there are so many white people in the creative industries?

Doesn’t that make you mad? It makes me furious.

But I want you to know how blessed my life is now. I still have anxiety but it’s much reduced. My chest feels expansive, not contracted. Yes, my work is hard. It’s thankless. It doesn’t pay very well. Or at all. There are times where I have felt such deep shame at my perceived inadequacies that I haven’t known what to do with myself.

But I know deep down that this is where I’m supposed to be. This is what God put me on Earth to do. Otherwise, He wouldn’t have given me joy. He wouldn’t have given me freedom. He wouldn’t have given me a head bursting with stories and ideas.

I love you. I always have. And I always will.

1 thought on “What I wish I could have said to my parents about filmmaking

  1. Congrats for following your dreams.

    Dorothy “A failure is just a stopover on the way to SUCCESS.”

Leave a Reply