This weekend I took a couple of days respite from the rigours of the last couple of weeks chained to my desk finishing off a couple of projects. On Sunday morning, K and I headed to a nearby village to meet a couple of friends for some period festive merriment at a Dickensian-themed Christmas fair.

As we wandered around, my friend and I got chatting about the last 12 months: he was made redundant, which finally gave him the kick up the arse he needed to pursue his career as a magician and hypnotist full-time and I officially started – and started finding success with – my production company TinyButMighty. Then we naturally segued into our thoughts, plans, hopes and dreams for next year and the year after.

We’re both very similar people: highly motivated, hugely ambitious and very lucky to have supportive partners. But the more we chatted the more it struck me how important these real-world friendships are in these days of myriad virtual followers and “friends”.

My online friends tend to be my filmmaking buddies; the people I interact with most on Twitter are those that motivate and inspire me to push on with my film-related projects, hence the term ‘reel life’ friends.

My ‘real life’ friends are those who I’ve known a lot longer, have been through more with, but who aren’t necessarily engaged and enthused by the same things in life as I am.

Until this weekend, I’d always thought of the two sides of the reel/real coin as being entirely separate. Now I see that what they are is the yin and the yang of a cohesive whole.

Without my little online ‘tribe’, I’d have nowhere to turn when I hit that roadblock in developing ideas, concepts and screenplays. But without my friends to hang, chill out and relax with, I wouldn’t have the enjoyment and the richness in my life to motivate myself to push forward with anything.

Sometimes you need a push from someone who knows what you’re going through, who’s been there before and can sympathise, empathise and hold your (virtual) hand while you rough it out.

And sometimes it’s precisely because they’re from outside your ‘reel world’ that someone can offer more support and a bigger spur to your dedication and commitment than your hundreds (or thousands) of Twitter followers all tweeting you at once.

The yin/yang nature of online/offline connections should remind us of the balance we need to strike between our different worlds and how they can best help us achieve what we want in their own separate and inimitable ways.

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