MEET AT THE TOP
Matt is a very creative soul. As well as being a talented and successful musician, parkour is a practice he loves, and brings his passion and creativity to. For many people, parkour evokes notions of risk, action and spectacle - Nameless athletes risking it all on Youtube. Matt came to me with an idea for a short film, focusing on the camaraderie and meditative discipline of a movement practice. Community and connectedness are two focuses of my own practice, so I was excited to explore these ideas with Matt. Days before we were scheduled to shoot, Matt's heart was abruptly and entirely broken. The experience left his mind and body in some shifted state - a state of frustration he couldn’t stand, but couldn’t stand to resolve. In our planning and storyboarding, Matt was to complete the wall jump at the end of the film. He had never done it before, but we were going to capture his first successful jump on camera. He had trained specifically for the jump, and knew he had the ability to do it. But he just couldn't commit. His head was somewhere else, with someone else.
Here's Matt's story around the film, in his own words:
Last year, I came to Fionn (filmmaker and friend) and Matt (Parkour practitioner and friend) with an idea for a Parkour video that would attempt to convey the feeling of my Parkour practice, more so than the movement - identity over spectacle.
While in the planning phase of this project, my heart was abruptly and entirely broken. A five-year relationship ended and I blamed only myself. I took time off work and retreated away to my parents’ house a few hours away, where I spent 10 days not speaking to anyone and barely functioning. I had never known grief so profound in all my life. I was no longer whole, not even close. During my time away, some friends from work heard what had happened and offered me a place to stay until I figured everything out. I graciously accepted and tried to resume my life.
I revisited the project with a childish and misdirected sense of resolve and optimism, the kind that you get when you try to convince yourself that things will be fine. We forged ahead and filmed almost everything in one day. All-in-all, it was a damn good way to spend a day, making art with friends. But I was still carrying something heavy and I felt it physically.
The arm-jump you see Matt do towards the end of the video was supposed to be the crescendo. Matt goes, then I go, cue big musical flourish. I hadn't done the jump before because I had wanted to do it for the first time on-film for this video. But that wasn't going to be a problem - I knew beyond any doubt that I could do it.
No matter how long I stared at this fucking jump, I could not commit. My head was somewhere else, with someone else. It was a frustration that I couldn’t stand, but couldn’t stand to resolve. Even when Fionn and I came back the next day to film some more footage, I couldn't do the jump, still drunk and tired and guilty and sorry as I was from the night before. Fionn edited the video that you see today, incomplete.
For over a year, I couldn't bring myself to release this video. It became a very sharp reminder of a time in my life that I was actively trying to forget. There in the frames, both a metaphorical and literal capturing of what I couldn't do.
I want you to see it now because I don't want to be trapped or defined by what I didn't do. I want to show that sometimes parallels aren't just parallels. I want to show how emotions can manifest physically and that it's fine and that you’ll be fine.
In a sense, we did capture how Parkour feels to me, just not in the way I expected. And it’s only now that I can say that I’m done beating myself up for what I didn’t do. Instead, I’m celebrating what we did.
"Meet At The Top" is currently playing on Perth's Cultural Centre's public screen, multiple times a day.
Image by Luxegarden Photography
Image by The Filmmaker
Image by Luxegarden Photography