"Family before the film"... Lizzie leaves

Location Heathrow airport | Mood Adrenalised (packing 10 mins before leaving) and worried (what did I forget) | Date 1 October 2008
Author (full name): 
Lizzie Gillett
Heathrow airport
Adrenalised (packing 10 mins before leaving) and worried (what did I forget)
"Leaving on a jet plane" song
Sore throat from five hour interview for the Making Of documentary today
1 October 2008
Current crisis: 
Leaving my Spanner Films family for 6 months
Current silver lining: 
Will be seeing my genetic family for 6 months
Next job: 
Co-ordinate live video link-up between tribal villagers in India and funders in London

After six years of putting my work first I am heading home to spend time with my family.  I've been putting the trip off for about a year, waiting until we finish the film, constantly pushing back my plans and promises to other people. In our initial funding plan from December 2004 we stated that going by conservative estimates the film would premiere in June 2007, so while we're only about 18 months over schedule - not bad for a project that has snowballed in size - I feel desperate to go back to New Zealand.

I'm still working to promote the film 25% of my time and determined to see it have the impact we've all been dreaming of around the world. Hopefully I can co-ordinate the antipodean campaign. 

My gran is 91 and I'm getting more worried by the day that something will happen to her before I arrive. My boyfriend's grandmother died last year before he had time to get home and see her so I'm well aware of how quickly things can deteriorate. I haven't gone home for three and a half years because I couldn't justify the emissions from the flight but now feel I can't justify the time away from my family (and my boyfriend's family). I've also got bridesmaid duties for my best friend's wedding in January.

I had a brilliant plan to travel all the way to New Zealand without flying, screening the film in countries along the way but sadly that hasn't worked out.  (Travelling overland costs ten times more than flying, takes 70 times longer and still causes 25% of the emissions.) Now that I'm actually flying home, and emitting all that Co2, I have to make it worthwhile and stay for a while - probably about 6 months.

I've always struggled to maintain some balance in my life, a difficult task what with my workaholic personality and the nature of the Stupid beast, and this is an instance where I feel that I have to prioritise my relationships and life outside the film.

I've learnt more from making The Age of Stupid than in the rest of my life put together. It's definitely the biggest, bestest thing I've ever been involved in and I will be exceptionally proud of it for the rest of my life. Obviously I feel terrible leaving the team now, when there is so much more work to be done, but hopefully I can help out from down under. 

I'm also a candidate for the NZ Green party in the upcoming general election so will be kissing babies on the campaign trail for a few months. There's no chance of me actually getting into parliament as I'm not standing in an electorate, but as a list candidate only and the Greens would have to win about 50% of the national vote for me to get in (they usually get about 7%). I never would have imagined myself standing for the Greens when I left NZ eight years ago, but the process of making the film has politicised me profoundly and I am determined to push NZ towards becoming a model country of sustainability.

The change will be dramatic on every possible level, but probably the biggest change will be not working 24/7 with Franny, who has become one of my best friends in the whole world. We've shared moments, good and bad, most people couldn't begin to imagine and during the filming we seemed to be having a 'once-in-a-lifetime' moment every few days.

I thought perhaps Franny & I should do something crazy to mark the 6 years we've been working together but quickly realised that no planned event could come anywhere near the adventures we've had making the film. As it turns out we are filming a final piece to camera at Heathrow for the Making Of mini-doc so it's a fitting farewell.

Over and out.