And We're Back…
It's been almost two years since I've published a blog post. Sorry. I've been busy.
So here's what happened. After 25+ years in education, I have returned to the film industry. Why would I trade a steady salary for the unpredictability of the creative arts? Because it was time.
In September 2001, I had just finished working as a 1st AD on a feature film. Jobless (or between projects as we liked to say), I was sleeping on the floor of a friends apartment. Luckily, I was able to get my bartending job back, but my first shift was on September 11. So…things got a bit confusing for many of us after that day, and for me, staying in film seemed liked a big risk for a person with no parents to fall back on and no money, so I returned to eduction. I had previously been a Latin teacher and there was a job opening within walking distance of my apartment. I needed to survive, so I took it.
I greatly enjoyed my time in education, supporting students, teachers, and families. But after 25 years, there was an emerging thought inside of me that realized I was still in survival mode and a voice inside of me that said I might try giving living a chance. Living with passion, authenticity, and without permission.
Philosophically, my life as a filmmaker isn't too dissimilar from my life as an educator. My job is to create a safe space for the actors and crew to find the best version of themselves. Despite what many have experienced, it is possible to create a humane environment on a film set. Additionally, a film set is fertile ground for learning—that is if people aren't acting like dicks.
So what else is new? Well, I've legally dropped the surname"Hunt" (a remnant of colonial slavery) and adopted "Essien" (a name that honors my West African heritage). Essien means sixth born, and with my mother having given birth to five children, it seemed apt for my renaming—a rebirth of sorts. This story will be further explored in a film I have in development. Or will it be an episode in a documentary series? Look, I told you it was in development. Ok, moving on.
Thank you for joining me for this short read. My new blog will feature cultural observations, updates on projects, and lessons learned along the away. I also plan to share the "best of" blog posts from the past, with a few edits to reflect the evolution of my thinking. Whatever shows up on this blog, I hope you enjoy it, and I hope that I can play some small part in your continued growth and belief in yourselves on your respective journeys. I don't have to know you to care about you.
Markus Essien is a writer, filmmaker, and musician, currently living in Aurora, Colorado, USA.