In her own words, film-maker Olive Pascha speaks about her upcoming project and how she is raising funds to make it happen…

Carrot Cake was born when I went to Lebanon last year. I was participating in a Director’s residency in Beirut and one day we visited Hammana, where a birdwatcher called Chadi Saad took us on a tour of the mountains. Chadi showed us his birdwatching spot and I was amazed at how personal it felt. I really understood in that moment the joy Chadi must feel whenever he goes there with his binoculars and his camera. I had never acknowledged the act of birdwatching or birding until that moment.

My grandma Shirley often spoke about her love of birds, and when it stopped being possible for her to leave her home she’d watch them from her chair out of the window. I wish I had asked her why she loved watching birds so much. I like to imagine they brought her peace. After meeting Chadi I knew I wanted to write a film featuring a birdwatcher because I realised that birdwatching was so much more than a pastime. It’s an identity and a connection to a species that represents independence, freedom and community.

One year later Carrot Cake has developed into a film about a birdwatcher called T (62) grappling with the recent diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s. She befriends a young, troubled girl at her birdwatching spot, causing her to face her elusive past. Two months ago, a friend asked me why T was a birdwatcher. I was a bit stumped, I hadn’t thought much about it. That’s the interesting thing about writing; quite often you don’t know the answer to your own choices.

So, why is T a birdwatcher? “It makes her feel free” I answered cautiously. Scared of sounding disingenuous. “Yeah, it makes her feel free”. I said it again more firmly.

“Why does it make her feel free?” my friend asked. I don’t know. I felt overwhelmed by the conversation. I’ve noticed a self-consciousness when I’m asked about this film (good old Imposter Syndrome, a friend I’m sure many of us know). Perhaps a fear of getting it wrong even though I wrote it. Sometimes I feel that what we make has to have a very clear meaning in order to be justifiable. It somehow doesn’t feel possible to not know the answer even though I so often don’t.

I said “Well because it just does”. Later that evening, I stood in the shower and thought of at least ten more interesting responses.

However, there’s a line in the film where T remarks that the best bit about watching birds is the moment they fly away. So, that’s it really; that’s why she loves watching birds. Because they live a life of contradictory desires; of needing to fly but also needing to nest. Isn’t that what humans are like too? I constantly battle between wanting to just be by myself, go wherever I want to go, and not answer to anyone. I also love my people, my relationships, and I need them. I seek the feeling of security as much as I love the feeling of uncertainty. Don’t we all just have multiple desires and realities?

Also, perhaps it’s enough that we don’t know why we have them. We just do. For example, T is intuitive, passionate and fiercely loyal. She’s unnecessarily spiteful when people show her sympathy or offer her help. She also needs to be held and heard in a way she doesn’t know how to ask for. As she begins the ongoing process of coming to terms with something unfathomable and life-changing, she also begins to befriend her inner-child, a figure that has haunted T her entire life. Amidst everything, what she roots herself in is birdwatching. Birds are her escape, but also represent parts of herself. I think birds symbolise these kinds of complexities of the human condition in extraordinary ways.

On the 13th October to 19th October, I’m cycling 750 km by myself from London to Scotland to raise money for this short film. I love cycling because I see places that I wouldn’t see in any other way. It’s when I feel the most free. It’s probably the closest to feeling like a bird, apart from skydiving but I’m not brave enough to do that.

If you’re interested in reading more about the film, and have the capacity to support the project please do check out the link at the bottom of this article and share around if you can.I’d like to take this moment to express my gratitude to Bo for letting me write this article on Fat Birder. It’s a huge privilege, thank you for holding a space for me.

Many thanks also to everyone who took the time to read this,

Olive Pascha

See the Crowd Funder Page HERE