The ASE asked some Members how they are faring during the shutdown - war stories, tips, observations, predictions, anything ASE Members would find interesting.

Danielle Boesenberg
Like so many others, I find myself out of work for the foreseeable future. The three jobs I was looking forward to have been postponed indefinitely. Life as we know it has been reconfigured in a major way for all of us. I think one of the greatest challenges is to stay positive and focused, and be ready for the moment when society in general - and the industry - open back up.

What’s keeping me going is the sense of community that comes with the knowledge that we’re all in this together. I’ve had plenty of industry friends check in, and my social media feed is full of creativity, humour and hope, despite all the fear and uncertainty. And I can’t wait to see all the fantastic projects people now have the time to develop!

Kelly Searancke
We had to self-quarantine for two weeks after arriving home from overseas, and since we've just had a daughter, decided it was high time to start documenting life as parents with a kid. So i made a little montage of all the fun and mundane things we got up to, which was a nice way to pass the time.

Simon Njoo ASE
Quarantine. Two weeks total isolation from my family, confined to two rooms in my house, without even the comfort of a hug. I ate alone. Slept alone. Read the news. Watched the cresting wave of the virus as it hit high water marks for death around the world. My wife and I spoke across the threshold of my bedroom door. I saw my children as they passed outside in the corridor, looking in on me in my isolation quarters.

Of course all work for me ground to a halt. I left a film to come home and at home there is no work. Or very little. But I was comforted by the thought that I was seeing a change in the way we considered society. I realised the interconnectedness of it all. How everything we do touches on everything that occurs around us: panic buy toilet paper and everyone else will; set up a Zoom meeting to get drunk with the friends we miss so much, look next door and the neighbour is doing exactly the same thing. And this changes things. After all, a neoliberal government, champion of the myth of the Great Aussie Battler, is handing out the biggest stimulus package ever in Australia. Why? Is it because the system that prioritises individual advancement over collective happiness couldn’t last even a day when the doors shut?

People are sending me emails with sentences like: ‘budget is not surprisingly very tight," and "just to be completely transparent the budget and schedule is a bit tight". And I will not blame independent Editors who comply, who accept lower fees at this time. After all, what else are you going to do, stuck in your corona cage? And we’re lucky, we can actually continue to work isolated from our collaborators.

But I can’t get away from the feeling that this is the best time for me to decide that what I do for a living, the thing I love getting up for every day is not some shitty showboat filled with cheap plastic toys. It has real value. It is something I cherish. It is something that nourishes me. It is something that gives my life meaning. And I am not going to sell that unless I am happy with the price. On the race to the bottom, I’ve hit the point where I’m pulling the pin and am going to float back to the top.

Stick to the ASE rates. Assess your value up, not down. Engage in truly collaborative relationships with the directors and producers who respect your craft and the love you harbour for it. Because I fear that if we don’t take the best from this horrible time, we’ll be condemned to live with the worst of it for a very long time to come.

(eNews 97 - May 2020)