Unbroken is a film directed by Angelina Jolie, based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. The film revolves around the life of USA Olympian and athlete Louis “Louie” Zamperini, portrayed by Jack O’Connell. Zamperini was sent to a series of Japanese prisoner of war camps in which he was treated brutally. By the end of the war he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder but his saving was the ability to find forgiveness not revenge. At the end of his life he fulfilled his long-held ambition to run once again the Olympics. This time, as a torchbearer in the Japanese Olympics.
It was Louie’s ability to keep going in the face of supreme deprivation, humiliation and pain that can inspire us in our own lives. Hopefully not under such harrowing circumstances but each of us has our own challenges we must face and work through. We all have to learn the art of resilience against the odds. When you do something that you believe in, it makes it easier to fight on through the tough times. I have been interviewing people who are at the top of their game for my book Passion with Purpose, looking at what keeps people going in order to succeed.
Recently I interviewed Gary Hymns, a Key Grip in the film industry with Bond, Star Wars, the Golden Compass, Thor, Robin Hood, Captain America, Shackleton, and Into the Woods, under his belt, to name but a few. All this from a 16 year old lad who started out working as a post boy at London Weekend Television. Much as we’d like to make this kind of leap in one bound, of course it is a lifetime of hard work that gets you there.
Gary has a good analogy. He’s a runner still at the age of 58, competing in races for the Serpentine Running Club “I always say to new runners who are exhausted or new people in the job, when they start the first mile and say ‘I can’t do this‘- well, your body works like a gear change in a car, you set off and it’s going ‘what’s this, I was walking down the street and now I’m charging down the road‘. But after about a mile it goes ‘Oh I know what we’re doing, we’re running’ you keep going and it drops down a gear and suddenly it gets easier'”.
His job requires the same resilience and perseverance. Gripping is incredibly physical work, moving the camera like a choreographer, gliding it responsively with the actors, sometimes under supremely tough conditions. Often Gary and his team are standing up for thirteen hours, physically tracking the camera, rehearsing one shot 10 times, doing twenty takes and maybe running with Daniel Craig down the street or on location in 52 degree heat pushing the camera all day.
So what keeps him going? Gary explains his motivation was always “we wanted to save money so we didn’t have such a big mortgage, having two children, we just got our heads down and did the work. But it’s not for everyone, it’s unsociable, you have to have a very understanding partner and you’ve got to be prepared to do the hours really…you’ve just got to continue, you’ve got to keep going. I’ve got eleven guys on my crew. If I my head drops or I think it’s cold, I don’t want to be working like this, you have to keep up your spirits, keep everybody motivated and break it up with humour which we do all the time. Some might call it gallows humour, but it does work.”
And then there’s the passion for his work that makes the physical stress worth it. He loved working with Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett, both nominated for Oscars, on Notes on a Scandal, “I’m locked into that scene, concentrating on what the actor is doing, timing the moment for the camera move, I don’t know the time of day, where I am or anything when I’m in that moment and I love it.” And with the new Stars Wars “it was a wonderful experience and the director and crew were really at the top of their game, we all knew what we were doing, we were enjoying ourselves and I think we got, hopefully, really good results.” And what about doing Skyfall with director Sam Mendes? “All British Technicians want to do a Bond film and I never knew if I was going to do one but at 56 I got the chance and now I’m doing the next one so that will be the icing on the cake”.
So when you’ve gone the distance, battled through the challenges, and reaped the rewards, is that the time rest on your laurels? Not according to Gary, who has another few big films lined up and then some more personal ambitions to drive him forward. “At the end of those films I’ll be 60 and I want to take the running up seriously and hopefully spend more time with my three grandchildren and my wife Jen, who I’ve been with since we were teenagers, we’ve grown up together.”
An inspiring career and attitude to life and it is people like Gary that can act as a guiding light to us all as we endeavour to carve our own way through the ups and downs of life. As ever perseverance is the name of the game and being surrounded by people who support you, with a dash of humour thrown in.
Find out what puts fire in your soles with Life Coach Lou Hamilton, and enjoy the run! CONTACT