Why you should embrace your 15 year old self

It was a day I think about often, even now, some 14 years later. I can remember looking around the crowded auditorium and having a feeling of immense fear and excitement as the projector started playing.

I had been working relentlessly for the past few months putting together our year 12 graduation video, often prioritising this over studying for my exams. The day had finally come and our entire senior year and their families were sitting down watching something I had created. As I said, it was both terrifying and exhilarating in the moment. Once it started playing I felt the energy of the room lift and relief as I looked around at people smiling, laughing and some even with tears in their eyes.

I'd had a video camera in my hand, most days, since I was around fifteen years old. It was very natural for me to want to capture memories, to tell stories, and even back then I understood how creating a film could connect to people, in a way I didn’t feel I could do on my own.

At the age of 17 I was selected into my first preference uni course in screen studies and I felt like everything was coming together. I would study for three years, continue to work on projects I felt passionate about and eventually I would get a great job in film or television and live my dream. Simple, right?

Wrong.

I remember sitting down amongst 100 others for my first lecture. There was a buzz of excitement and hope, we all felt that this course was going to lead us to amazing things.

Our lecturer came in and looked at us all with a smile in his eyes and said in a booming voice ‘Well, out of the 100 people in this course, 1 might be lucky enough to have a successful career in film or television. So get used to waiting tables everyone!’

Say what?!

In an instant my heart dropped and for the first time I had doubt that this is what I should be doing with my life. It was the first time someone told me I perhaps couldn’t do it.

Nevertheless, I stuck with the course for a year. It was a tough year, there were additional statistics I became aware of - such as the heartbreaking reality of the amount of women employed in Australian screen as opposed to men - a statistic that was clear in my classes as I was a clear minority. The women were often given the job of sitting in for an actor whilst the men set up the lighting and cameras.

When the first year completed I had completely given up and had no idea what to do next. I felt like it was a silly dream and I was equally as silly to pursue it any further.

So, I ran away. I packed up a ridiculously large backpack and went traveling with a friend around New Zealand for a year. That was the start of years of running away, trying to find answers.

I could go into details with what happened over the next five years but really it didn’t matter. In short, I gained employment in a variety of arts management jobs, desperately trying to fulfil my creative desire along with a reasonable income.

None of it felt right, I was trying so hard to be part of this grown up world of a 9-5 job and had completely blocked out what really made me happy.

Around 6 years after I had left my Uni course, I had a conversation that changed my life. I was chatting to my best friend who was an incredible singer and musician, yet was working in admin for a non profit organisation. For the first time we were both considering if it was possible to actually do something we loved for a career. Bianca wanted to teach singing and I, desperate to get back into anything related to filming, was considering becoming a wedding videographer.

We kept asking ourselves ‘what if we could actually do something we loved and were good at for a living?’

Since that conversation I have had two businesses based around wedding and event videography, both were successful and a very good way to make a living with a camera in my hand.

Diana Fisk

In the past two years I have entered the incredible world of producing and know now that I have truly found my happy place in combining my passion as well as the skills that have brought me here today.

It turned out I was that one person in the crowded room of hopeful students, it just took me a few years of searching to realise that it could be me.

I often wonder what would have happened if I had listened to my 15 year old self all those years ago. Instead of retreating into a world of doubt when I was told I couldn’t, if instead I had of said to myself ‘this is 100% what I am supposed to be doing and I will make it work’.

Diana Fiskfilmmaking