Life Lessons from 'Love and Love Only' - How to make a boring job interesting?
Thanks to the many comments appreciating my movie “Love and Love Only”. A fair bit of them specifically mention the 'Games at work' sequence where Kris invites Stacey to be his playmate. Some have asked me where I got that idea from. So, I thought I should write in detail about the concept behind that, and here it is.
A shot from "Love and Love Only" featuring Georgia Nicholas and Rohit Kalia playing games at work.
To start with, I am an IT professional by qualification, and a filmmaker by passion. See the mismatch? I never considered working in the IT industry anytime, and have never prepared myself for that. I have always trained myself to tell stories, and make movies. Despite my computing education, I got work in a Tamil satellite channel in Sydney, that was broadcasting all around Australia and New Zealand. But within just 3 years of operation, the channel was liquidated, and I was left jobless.
A friend of mine recommended me for a Data Analyst job in a mailing company, and I had to take it as I desperately needed an income. They were a huge mailing company who printed and posted direct mails to millions of Australian addresses for various clients like charities and telecom providers. The clients would send huge databases, and my job was to extract, correct and format that data into printable addresses according to the requirements of Australia Post.
We had a whole section to do that, and they were using an almost extinct software called Foxbase (the predecessor to Foxpro) which worked in a Unix environment. That means, all I would see on screen was white text on a black screen. Not really sure if it was that boring for the rest of the team. But for me who used to do 3D animation, motion graphics and video editing on a computer screen, this job seemed boring and mundane. But this job was definitely better than being a coolie all 7 days. So I had to keep it, but I didn't like to do it with that mindset either. This situation pushed me into learning something profound.
I asked myself “If you can't quit, why not you make this job interesting enough?”, and my constant staring at the millions of improperly formatted Australian addresses sparked a thought. I invented a game in that Unix environment where the only thing I saw was text, and the only text I saw were postal addresses. I would separate the addresses statewise and start an interstate tournament. I would open two windows in parallel and start processing two states at a time. I would calculate the time taken, the steps taken etc and devise variations and specific rules for each game and stick to it. I would try to do stuff faster to make my home state 'New South Wales' win. As with every game, you can't always win. Sometimes, the other states would win too. When there are no states to compete, I would split by suburbs or starting alphabets etc.
While my single player game with just Australian addresses is in no way comparable to the ones in Xbox or Playstation, it kept me active, got the work done and increased my productivity too. My co-workers even commented that the way I looked at the screen and operated the keyboard looked as if I was playing a video game! Little did they know that they were actually right. And I do admit, it was FUN. AND, it brought an unexpected side effect too!
As the work was done faster than scheduled, I had this extra time for myself every week that I utilised to practice screenwriting. After a couple of short scripts, I started a feature length screenplay and completed 17 drafts of it, totally at work time, utilising just these extra hours that I had earned. Doing a bit of creative writing in between those games refreshed the mind as well, and got me ready to play again. This just became a cycle, and I was looking forward for the next game. I was also trying out better ways to get the job done faster, in order to gain more time for my writing.
By including my passion as an incentive for doing the job effectively, I gave more meaning to the job as well. A Win-Win! From then on, I never saw that job as a boring, mundane chore, and I had a feature film script in hand. That was my first feature script which is not “Love and Love Only”. But without that experience, I couldn't have written this one.
When I was writing “Love and Love Only” and was looking for ways to bring the couple closer gradually, this experience came to my mind. I had already placed them in a boring job of packing groceries in an Indian store. So, I thought of some games that could be played in that location, and made the characters as playmates. They play games at work all the time, which brings them closer and gets them to enjoy each others company, understand each other and eventually fall in love. But within the story, where did the character get that idea in the first place? I wanted him to have an 'aha' moment.
So, I thought of another game that some kids could play in a public setting, and made the character witness it. Thus came the whole sequence, and luckily I got the World's most prolific film composer, Maestro Ilaiyaraaja to compose a song that would play in the background as the main characters played their games and got closer day by day. This is his first ever song for an English movie, and it was performed by Australian singer Rachael Leahcar. We named it 'Am I in Love?' and released it worldwide online. Within a couple of days it reached No.1 in iTunes in 9 countries among all Ilaiyaraaja songs. FYI, he has composed more than 5000 songs in various Indian languages, in his career spanning over 40 years.
After testing out the potential of the online release, we released the movie “Love and Love Only” Worldwide Online too.. Checkout the video below for the trailer.
Though it's a sweet, cross-cultural love story with a breathtaking musical score, I have embedded many such life lessons into the movie to add further value to the audience, on top of the heart warming, emotional experience that the movie gives.
Those who are doing a mundane, boring job for the sole reason they need the job, and organisations that are desperate to improve their work culture and productivity would truly understand the value of this particular lesson, 'Playing games at work'.
Checkout the movie for many more valuable lessons like this. Try inventing games that would suit your work too, and let me know how it worked in your case. Please feel free to get in touch if you would like to brainstorm about game ideas for your job, through our comments page.