Two things happened that sent me toward film. Spielberg’s ET and sneaking into see The Night Porter. ET left me with unwarranted tears, feeing the powers of film’s manipulative force. The Night Porter left me bored and slightly raped, dreams that night of lipstick and leather.
This book, needless to say, is not a credit list of influences or a nod of heads to all that walked through my life. I am trying to explain who I am now, by who I have been, trying to work out my need to explain it. All art is a celebration of loss. Loss of Love, Loss of Innocence. A dictum of everything we have lost and everything we have gained in the losing.
I have told this story before and will tell it again. My father could not understand my love for photography, my need for film, my inability to not write. He was convinced I would take over the family business, his building company. Not that it existed, he was living from job to job, holding onto the house with my mothers salary. After two years in Cape Town, I hitch back home to surprise them, am surprised by the fact that they don’t live in that house anymore, have to get the new residents to give me the new address at one a.m. Loss comes slowly and is then definitive.
I applied to the Cape Town Film and Television School as a last ditch effort. Photography schools, techs, would not take me, I was told that I would have to start at second year and you can’t do that. I was for the first, not boasting (am, really), not the last time, overqualified. The day the fax came through, I heard the phone ring, picked up, pressed start and slowly saw the acceptance form coming through. I called my mother, who’s response was, as I recall, simply to say “We have to break this to your father gently”
Of course he tried to talk me out of it, the mantra, “when are you going to get a real job” was beginning to form. I remember putting the fax, already browning, on top of his, already yellowed, architectural plans for a long since lost project and him trying to convince me. The next morning my mother told me that my father would be leaving for Cape Town to find me a flat. All that was left to me of my adolescence was a matric dance and some goodbyes.