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DakarLOG – Rally Tunisia Libya 2009 invite | Miracle

19 Apr

April 19, 2009 – 9:00am – Marseille, France

Writing this, the time and location, it all seems a little too unreal.  Just one week ago, I had a completely  different week planned for myself.  One of reflection, redirection and a new beginning.  One that would put me on the road to my parent’s cabin in British Columbia’s Kootney Lake for a few weeks.  One that was to turn me and my film career (if you could call it that just yet) from the off-road adventures of “Chasing the Desert” – which had become more like a black comedy of sorts – and back in to the writers seat for a while, to dream of a few new beginnings and hack at a few of the old ones…  Time to start over again, time to start fresh.

That lasted all of 24 hours, as all my grand plans seem to these days, right up till  3pm on Easter Sunday…  Sitting on the beach at Crab Park, Vancouver, just outside my Gastown loft, another call to adventure – actually something larger than that, dropped into my iPhone from France, beckoning me back overseas, back into action, offering me up my one last shot at recovering from an unpredictable and unfortunate turn of events back in January of 2008.

On January 4th, 2008, an event, a story…  a dream I risked far to much on an idea of an experience and that experience ended up becoming far different than I could ever have expected.  Fact is, the event never ended up happening.  The event was the legendary Dakar Rally, a 15 day, 5000KM endurance and navigation rally race through Europe and Northern Africa.  But on January 4th and 12 noon, the rally became more than a legend – it wrote history.  12 hours prior to the start of it’s 30th edition, the race organizers cancelled the entire rally after a series of terrorist actions in Mauritania the week before which culminated with deaths of French tourists over the Christmas holiday.

The famous Paris-Dakar Rally had become the flagship of off-road rallies for professional and amateur racer and everyone stood that day, lost.

I stood there that day lost and broken, and literally broke.  I, like many of the competitors, gave everything to be in the rally even just once in a lifetime, to be a part of this seemingly unstoppable event that many only dream of setting foot inside of.  Like the Titanic, this event sank and not all had access to lifeboats to make it ashore.  A part in all of us died that day.  Not just a childhood dream, but a belief that anything is possible… that if one is strong enough, courageous enough, give enough, one can live a dream.

We all risked more than most would to get there and like in that nightmare poker game, all saw it swiftly disappear when the cards hit the table on the first hand.  I alone was out my day job, roughly $50,000, 8 months of production and no way to get home to Canada.  I’m an independent filmmaker, this was to be my first documentary that I was self funding at that point and my insurance didn’t cover an event cancellation – no one’s did.  I am still one of the lucky ones with only bankruptcy staring at me on the near horizon…

Jump ahead 6 months…

I guess I am a little crazy, or so I thought at Easter, but a competing race organization to the Dakar Rally contacted me to assist them in securing a North American broadcaster to air their daily race summaries and to introduce their 10 day rally in Tunisia and Libya to a North American audience.  Basically what I have been fighting so hard and long to do with the Dakar Rally for 2 and a half years now.  This offer was different.  They turned the tables and instead of the 20,000 Euro entry fees and the 20,000 Euro license and rights fees, this organization had just invited me out AND offered both my footage and their footage for free – no cost.  A bit of a shocker on Easter afternoon (I am starting to like the Easter Bunny for more than the rice-crispy-chocolate treat in bunny form) – and a lot unexpected as I would have to be on a plane in 4 days to France to catch the boat…

So, do I give up everything again?  Risk my own sanity again?  Walkaway from my family who I was going to meet at the lake?  My friends who I had committed to plans with?  Myself and this so called life I keep trying to wrangle up and set on a sane course?  Will things wait for me this time when before they slipped through my fingers?  What will 3 weeks from my life look like this time, especially since I seem to be in a vortex of very odd occurrences as it is?

One thing it did mean – ok, 2 things…

#1: I will have the professional footage I need to complete an amazing documentary on my own personal journey chasing the Dakar Rally  AND have more than enough for an incredible episodic pilot that would lead up to both the Moroccan Rally AND the Dakar 2010 Rally to sell to a North American broadcaster.

#2: Originally, before the documentary was even conceived, I was just writing a feature dramatic film with the rally event as a backdrop to a brother story.  All I initially wanted was to participate in the rally to write the most realistic action sport adventure script possible…

This Easter egg….  this Easter Miracle…  just put me back in the driver’s seat and into the heart of the African desert and into the heart of an endurance and navigation rally.  This means that at the end of the most trying and difficult creative, financial, personal and professional journey I have ever taken to this point in my life…  I am given back more than just my first little dream when I thought it was long lost.  I am given the chance to finish my dramatic feature film script that I started over 2 and a half years ago…  and, I am given the chance to give back.

So, what did I do?  I put everything on the line again.  My day job, friends, family, my health…  my life.  Of course this time I called everyone before hand because this would have to be something I can share and celebrate on my return.  It’s no longer my journey – me, my family and friends have all invested to much to date and this is my last shot at finding an end to a story long over due.

That little dream I watched die away on January 4th, 2008, has come back to life.  It looks a little different, but it feels right.  I think there is something exciting we can do with this.  For me, my project and for the desert.  I may be filing for bankruptcy this week (funny to do from France), but all my work and what I ultimately envisioned, still has a fighting chance…

The boat to Tunisia leaves tomorrow from the Port in Marseille.  I am sitting in my hotel recovering from a fever break at 39 degrees celcius just a day ago in the Frankfurt Airport, but I am recovering, charging my batteries and holding onto the hope that this time – it’s the right time for this little story of mine.

shawna-fever

Shawna

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4 responses to “DakarLOG – Rally Tunisia Libya 2009 invite | Miracle

  1. Doug Shaw

    April 30, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Hi Shawna,
    I have been following your trails and tribulations for the past two years. It would seem we have a bit in common; like you I went to north Africa to be a part of the Dakar only to have a childhood dream crushed at the last minute. I stayed in Morocco for a few weeks after explored the country by motorbike along with many other disappointed riders. It was at this point I realised how much this event meant to so many people from all walks of life. I was hooked, I had to be in South America to follow the rally again.
    I contacted you mid way through last year to try and find out how you gain a foot inside the event, for me all my footage was from the perspective of an avid rally follower whom had traveled from Australia to be at the event. I thought I could help out in some way. I am a teacher who teaches film studies and I have no fancy production name or films to my name. I just wanted to share to passion for the event with other liked minded people.
    I did get to South America and I was luck enough to cross paths with different stages, again all on motorcycle and unsupported. Yet again I was amazed by the courage and the will of the competitors.
    You should be extremely proud of your efforts, it is a gig to be a part of and I have no idea how tough it must have been for you. But you never gave up, you yourself were no different to one of the racers. You are and have been apart of this amazing rally and that is something that most people will not ever come close to.
    I am certain you will finish all of your projects and look back at all of this and have a bit of a giggle at your craziness. I am sure we cross paths some day, especially now I know your part Kootney kid. My partner is from Nelson and we head over to catch up with the family every two years. We are planning on moving back sometime in the next couple of years now that our little one has joined us.
    You are an inspiring film maker and I look forward to the end product.

    Kind regards, and best of luck.

    Doug Shaw

     
    • Shawna Cox

      June 27, 2009 at 6:22 am

      Thanks, Doug – I do remember you. Thank you for your words and we shall have a glass of vino and swap some crazy rally chasing stories… Can’t wait to hear yours.
      Shawna

      (find me on Facebook ‘Shawna CFG Cox’ or CanadianFilmGirl)

       
  2. Good Blog

    November 29, 2009 at 12:44 am

    Hi, I tracked down this site by on a fluke when I was looking on Google then I came upon your web site. I have to say your web site is really cool I love your theme! I don’t possess much time at the moment to fully read through your website web sitebut I have bookmarked it. I will be back in a day or two. Thanks for a great site.

     
    • Shawna Cox

      February 5, 2010 at 6:54 am

      thanks! I hope you get into the storyline… it’s been an adventure!
      xo from Canada.
      Shawna

       

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