The last trailer cut off just a little too soon and a very familiar clack of machines lulled my senses into action. Heightened, my hands started to move instinctively, threading, feeling, and making loops. Sitting down to watch the newest cinematic rendition of ‘Les Miserables’ and I couldn’t help but notice this older theatre ran a dual projector system.
Project Iko is meant to be about showcasing self-education. It’s meant to be about an adventure, traveling around the world. It’s meant to be about volunteering wherever possible. Yet, here I was, lost, ridden with mistakes while looking for momentary reprieve.
My memories of projecting movies flooded the room. Changeovers from one projector to the next followed by strained looks for cues, and meticulous balancing of focus. I knew exactly what my Japanese compatriot was about to endure. With a heavy understanding of the story behind this movie, I settled in, thinking I knew what was ahead.
Soon my emotions would contort in key with the pain, suffering, and bittersweet victory on screen. It hurt really. And so many realizations of past mistakes decidedly sprang into my head, that I couldn’t help but feel so utterly human as Jean Valjean, a wanted man fell to his knees having been forgiven and given a second chance.
Three days behind schedule due to the holiday season, on half of the original budget thanks to problematic planning, with so many of Project Iko’s ideals under constant threat, here I was worried at whether the focus was tight enough. The reel changed. I faded into the roller-coaster of betrayal and destruction as a woman named Fantine finds herself thrown into prostitution receiving solace only once carried to a hospital by Valjean, now a mayor-factory owner, still hiding from the law under this new identity.
Another memory swelled forth. Having logged 100 hour weeks in front of a computer trying desperately to relate my own passion and excitement to everyone I knew, my Kickstarter campaign had cracked under its own weight of accidental spamming, vague objectives, and over-saturated ideas. Cue in the upper right hand side of the frame. This time a red grease pen. A few seconds later, the second cue as the next reel jumped into action.
It happened. As if clouds parted over the sky of my thoughts, the reasoning behind Project Iko simplified. Yes, it’s about self education. Yes, it’s about adventure. Yes, it’s about volunteering. Yes, it’s even about proving the importance of dreams. But these ideas stem from one source. On screen, Valjean reveals his identity while simultaneously taking in Cosette, the daughter of the recently departed Fantine. Thematic hope mixed with an iron-clad conviction. I couldn’t help but be swept into it. Halflway through Act 1, I realized the simplicity I was looking for.
Project Iko, my friends, is about living a life worth living.