An Amateur Film Maker: My Road to Oman


An Amateur Film Maker: My Road to Oman

Four years ago, towards the beginning of my navigation through self exploration, I ran to the sanctuary of my dear friend’s farm in mid Devon. Pals for many, many years it was always a safe haven.

I had recently signed my half of an art gallery to my business partner. I wanted to shed the relationship. Quickly. There was little energy, inclination or motivation to negotiate a price, I simply wanted out. At the same time another boyfriend bit the dust. Both relationships had slowly drowned me and I had allowed it.

Before I headed West I was in discussions with C4 and Sky regarding a documentary idea. It involved a desert and a chapter from the Phantom Major by Virginia Cowles. I had many meetings which were positive but countered by negativity. At this point my confidence and self esteem were pretty non existent. I book marked the discussions for a later date.

There was more pressing work to focus on; unravelling myself.

I reread the chapters so far. Determined to understand the reasons for how I behave and interact. I needed time and space to process and compute the accident I had in 2010. An incident that hurried along the loss of my favourite past time, horses, and the dream of my ideal career in the military.

I went back to basics. Pulled pints, washed pots, waitressed, made kitchen cupboards, beating for a local shoot and starting a jazz night.

In my spare time, together with a friend, we created wood furniture in his garden shed. I walked and ran miles with the dogs, through forests and along rivers. I learnt a couple of jazz chords. I’d play on the grand until the fire burnt out and the sun rose over the green hills. Buried in thought and contemplation.

As another dear friend suggested, ‘perhaps the mid life crisis arrives early when you don’t have, or desire, children.’

Through my interactions with people, sometimes probing, and likely to be on their own journey of discovery, I would gain clarity on my thoughts.

Two conversations with men I barely know have sparked thoughts which add to the equation of the direction I may well be heading in. Oman and beyond.

I was flicking through Tinder ….‘author, photographer, adventurer.’ Right swipe. It’s a match, we chat. Amongst other things, he asked me if I’d always been interested in photography. I have, but prefer the moving image. Though I hadn’t yet discovered the subject matter to document that might hold my imagination and focus. I do now. My expedition and the run up to Oman.

Rewind several years and I was chatting with Foxy from SAS Who Dares Wins at the top of the Shard. He and Brian Wood had just given an intimate talk about their experiences of war. I told him of my plans for Oman. He mentioned a project someone else was taking on and would I like to be considered for the team.

My knee jerk reaction, as ever, was one of resolute enthusiasm. We exchanged numbers and he would make introductions.

This offer probed considerable thought. Forever jumping on other people’s ships because mine never felt interesting or compelling enough.

Though I was beginning to create my own compelling story and there was a magnetism for it that I was and am unable to ignore. Enough of piggy backing on other people’s dream. I had my own destiny to fulfil. To divert at this stage would be a grave error for me. I explained to Foxy and declined his offer of an introduction.

Now, an impending expedition to organise and film, I create another story within the story. I must learn how to use my equipment and edit on the road. Most of all I need subject matter to keep myself excited and interested.

‘In my shoes’ (thanks Sam) will allow me to exercise my innate curiosity and nosiness of the unique people that I meet and have met along my way. The places I have visited and the food that we eat. Through this experiment I can document, or we can create, a snapshot of their life. Something that I have always thrived off for periods of time.

Van life with Chef Patoche isn’t exactly how I planned. If at all. We are working together in France for the summer. He’s cooked in the River Cafe & Moro amongst others so we set up a cooking demo on one of my cameras. I’ll be damed if I can work out how to retrieve the files through the Canon software. (I’ve worked it out now, but I’d already written and edited this verse and the film – spelt his name wrong too.)

But with an urge to navigate my way through editing I pulled together some footage captured from another evening with Patrick on my back up camera, the Leica XU. Waterproof, dustproof and shock proof and perfect for the Empty Quarter.

Follow Patrick Acheson s culinary tour on instagram @chefpatoche