Despite falling under the documentary umbrella, Gene Sizemore’s film functions more as a spotlight for its subject’s life work up to the present than a complete aggregation. At 30 minutes long, Born in Crisis is at once a comprehensive look and an immediate snapshot—respectively—of New Zealand-born, DC-based singer Emma G‘s past travails and present aspirations. It is a uplifting story and a hopeful glimpse into the creative mind behind the local celebrity who’s emerged from hardships both alien and debilitating to almost everyone. For most people, going through life without going under the knife until old age is good enough fortune. Emma G, the film’s subject, was born with hydrocephalus, a condition where fluids accumulate in a child’s brain, had endured ten brain surgeries and two dozens overall. To be subject to general anesthesia once is disruptive and taxing as is. Recurrent interventions are enough to sap the mental resolve of most people and yet the person in question is alive and well, bearing her soul, churning out songs and making an impact (the film can be seen at the end of this post).
While the revelations don’t delve into a timeline for those operations, and Emma G does paint a hopeful picture, it feels as if the worst is thankfully all behind, now. Yet far from having that rare medical condition define her, Emma G chooses to channel her condition into a productive, fulfilling, and, hopefully, inspiring endeavor. Its most appropriate moments to my own work here on this site are where the experience of Emma G’s resonated for a fellow a content maker, and the inspiration should easily translate across. A month-long, one-song-per-day challenge from the lockdown is the highlight of the short film, (mine was much more minuscule and more drawn out). In it, Emma assuringly reiterates to the audience in her live stream she will stick it out but apologetically interjects if the quality of the music drops. There is a lesson here for any aspiring creative type with an audience and a platform to perform and produce despite the results if only to keep the creative juices flowing and stay in the habit of one’s chosen enterprise. Perfection can wait for another day when there is a deadline.
This lockdown segment is worthy of a few laudatory words. More revelatory and insightful than any background-establishing line or bit of dialog, that part of the documentary is timely as regards flow, pacing and thematic coherence. In a time when the planet came to a standstill, and a majority of the global populace had had their world thrown off its axis, the itch to perform never escaped Emma G and a delightful scene where she justifies busking outside a drug store elevates the entire piece. It is a steadfast commitment to her craft and audience that Emma G resorts to inventive ways to remain connected to a crowd and stay on rhythm. When taken through the lens of the pandemic, and the film’s centerpiece moments are framed via the lockdown, the universal message of Emma G’s path is lent the appropriate resonance.
From personal experience, I one time roomed with an underground artist for the duration of one college semester. At the time justifying the unorthodox subsistence of that bohemian existence has eluded someone more ingrained with forging—and foraging for—the path of least resistance. But in recollection, the first semester of my school program was preceded by an orientation that featured a textbook somewhat relevant to the artistic pursuit and the growing exposure of artists and the increasingly interactive osmosis between art maker and consumer. Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat, while garnering meme-worthy reception among classmates, may not have been that wide off the mark in postulating an increasingly competitive world economy and a level playing field in the growing shift towards freelance and authorial work. My memory betrays me now but Friedman’s book was long spiel advocating what has since become the gig economy, where only the serious will remain standing in the end.
Emma G can be found on the following sites: