The world looks different pre-breakfast. Up in the air. Unsettled. Like all the dreams, all the ideas of the world have been shaken up in the snow globe of your head and before breakfast, the pages of thought are still in flight… and before breakfast there is the anticipation of what the day will settle.

It was early July when I found myself on the morning train to the city. I love winter mornings and breakfast dates, and a winter morning breakfast date at the Victoria tea rooms are even more of a favourite… add to that a keynote speech by Bruce Beresford at a Currency House event even better.

The Arts and Public Life Breakfast Series held by Currency House was started in 2005 and according to Currency House “grew from recognition of the increasing responsibility for arts governance that the business world is accepting as board members, sponsors and patrons.” The mission is quite simple – to create a space for business to engage with the innovative and inspirational qualities of the performing arts. The breakfasts are created to trigger conversation and is one of many events that Currency House hosts to encourage debate and intellectual reflection and/or interrogation.

As an advocate for discussion and critical discourse, my attendance was nearly essential. I believe discussion is essential for the growth and continuation of art – in fact I believe that all art strives for one thing – for communication – and successful communication often comes out of practice. Practice creates ease. Ease creates whole communication. Communication aids understanding and compassion.

And some times we need a top up.

We all need to get out of the rehearsal room, or our offices, or our studio and engage with a higher idea, or a unique perspective, or celebrate adversity or achievement.

It’s easy to lose sight, lose faith, lose energy, give up.

And so, for me, after a bizarre half year of beginnings, ends, assessments, refocusing and some much needed creative “fallow time” : a breakfast with Bruce Beresford, high tea, exquisite linen napkins, altruistic notions of art, passionate unerring vision was really what was needed. And this is how it was pitched:

The Labyrinth of Film Financing “One of our most celebrated film directors and producers, Bruce Beresford is also a noted opera director and has returned home this time to direct Carlisle Floyd’s opera. Of Mice and Men, based on the Steinbeck novel. This is his third opera for Opera Australia. He began his film career in the larrikin resurgence of the 1970s but it was the classic Breaker Morant that first brought him international success and took him to Hollywood. It led to a lifetime of over 30 great international movies like Driving Miss Daisy, Tender Mercies, Black Robe, Double Jeopardy and most recently the exquisite Mao’s Last Dancer. But the one thing he hates about his work is raising the finance. ‘Finding money to make movies—the horror, the despair, the agony, the capriciousness, the betrayals…’ The challenge of financing films was a feature of his 2007 memoir, Josh Harnett definitely wants to do this…True stories from a life in the screen trade.”

Between tea and bite-sized buttery breakfast items, I sat and listened as Beresford spoke. I had spent some years working int he film industry for government agencies focused on audience and industry development, and marketing and promotion of film… so I know the field well – or at least well enough to know that what he was saying about the machinery of filmic storytelling is very complicated, expensive and risky. After outlining the rise of the big-name actor (yes the fickleness of celebrity favour and box office appeal) and the tricky negotiations when locations across the world is your palette, there’s plenty of stories about films that nearly got made – the marvellous thing about Beresford is that his films DID get made.

Standing at the podium, one hand orchestrating his own talk he admits to the value of optimism.

He also admits there was a time after the critical response to The Adventures of Barry McKenzie when he thought he would never make another film again. Shattered pride, a lack of faith in his discernment for quality story? He ran away to London to take a break – and in that time he followed his passion in directing for stage… and recently directed the Opera of Steinbeck’s OF MICE AND MEN.

As I sat there, waking up… I felt the flurry of my thoughts slowly drift and collate. I felt reassured and inspired. I felt reassured by the longevity of his career, the energy and optimism, the congenial defiance of reason, of doubt. Here stands an example of a person who dared to forge ahead, and has made some stunning pieces of cinema (apologies -I can’t vouch for his theatre/Opera making).

I stole a moment as he left the tea rooms. He had readied himself to leave. Scarf wrapped around his neck. A long coat. Bright eyes and a friendly smile.

I introduced myself and thanked him for his work and for his example. We chatted. And I won’t share that conversation here – some things are best left unshared – And I walked out into the streets of Sydney, fresh, warm, a little less wild and completely ready for a life of art making ahead.

The next breakfast will be with Noni Hazelhurst speaking at the Victoria Team Rooms at the Queen Victoria Building. I recommend you check out the website or sign up for their newsletter…