I Could Have Been a Movie Star

I arrive at the set early. The business the film company is shooting at is still open. Consumers are doing what they do best: consuming. My stomach is in knots. I feel great. For the first time in my life I’m going to be in a movie. Life is great.

Some of the extras arrive early. They crowd together at a nearby coffee shop and talk of costumes, make-up and wardrobe. They eat away their butterflies over small snacks still make small talk.

The film crew has not arrived yet. Neither has the director, assistant director. They are still filming at the other location. Getting every scene ‘just right’ is an art and great art takes time.

I observe the actors as they pile back into the business that has now closed its doors to consumers. An actor peruses the aisles admiring the merchandise. Another actor is possibly reciting what sounds like a monologue. No, he’s just talking loudly.

I ask if anyone knows who wrote the script. Silence. Confusion. No one is quite sure and I hypothesize as to why. Screenwriters are the wallflowers of the film industry’s many sets. And, unless their name is something notable or up and coming hardly anyone ever knows who they are. Yet, from the ashes of their creativity rise celestial beings that soar the cosmos while paparazzi chase these stars from behind. The tabloids print their names and everyone knows who they are but hardly anyone knows who is writing about them.

Freewriting: Trailers hit the theatres for upcoming films. Gossip of great actors abuzz. Talk of who will win Emmy’s drown out the sounds of coffee shop customers talk of their monotonous day. People are looking at me, for all the right reasons. Talk of who’s in the cast, who’s directing, what the film may or may not be based on and the private thoughts of any accolades the writer may stands a chance to win for the script are exciting to my mind’s eye and this is life, this is good. This is an actor’s fame rising a screenwriter’s career blossoming again, if not again and again.  The film’s success, the success of the script on the screen is the screenwriter’s personal reward. This is film. This is NOT Hollywood. It is Ottawa, but stars are rising.

Back to the blog: Finally the film crew arrives. The craft table is set up. Coffee. A life line at this late hour. The extras are instructed as to what will happen. Anticipation of the rest of the evening is heavy in the air. The ‘big names’ are arriving on set soon.

Freewriting: This is just the beginning, I think to myself. I am writing this piece as the cast for The Sound of Music sings brilliantly on my television screen.

Back to the blog: Someone has come around the room inspecting our costumes. A person can be asked to change something they are wearing. My costume, it turns out, is as good as gold. Every element of film making matters. It is like organizing an orchestra. Everyone and everything on set has a purpose, a place in the grand scheme of things.

Screenwriters, I think, have their place in all of this bustle too. It is often behind the scenes, inventing the characters, composing dialogue, creating the setting, the conflict, the drama and crises, the resolution.

The screenwriter’s first reward (after surviving writing several drafts of  the script and editing it) is in the sale of their script to a producer, which in turn helps other people, make – up artists, photographers, costume designers, location directors, actors, and the list goes on, catapult towards their dreams too.

I realised something that night on set. I could have been a movie star one day but I love being behind the scenes. I love being he creator of original scripts. The screenplays I write will hopefully one day be the catalyst that propels hard working actors into the cosmos, their stars on the rise in the universe we call life.



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