I know it's technically Tuesday, but to be fair this was written on a Monday. That's the theme here. Mondays are real, where I put my mind towards documenting things I'm actually feeling, things I'm actually doing. The whole point is to shine some light on what I'm doing, and how I'm working towards what I want. The irony is I'm still figuring out what I want.
I’m in a staircase, under buzzing fluorescent lights. I’m tired, out of breath and dehydrated. Our foreheads connect and I’m sent reeling. We both hold our heads, groaning in pain. The director calls “Cut!”
I’m having the time of my life, and the worst headache in recent memory.
So what if the headbutt was supposed to be fake? So what if we have to do it again? I’m with my friends, and we’re filming an action scene. The scene will probably end up being only a couple of minutes, and we’ve already been filming for four hours. One of the tactical vests ripped before our bad guy was supposed to go on screen, and now he’s wearing my leather jacket. My (airsoft) gun’s mag keeps flying out whenever I take a hit, and the director gets a bit more frowny each time it happens (it’s his baby). I’ve been sweating since I put the costume on hours ago, and I’m running on four hours of sleep.
But I’m having the time of my life.
I think I’ve always wanted to be an action star, at least subconsciously. I know for a fact I’ve been telling stories from the time I could speak, and doubled down once I could write. The setting or tools never really mattered. Some of the most passionate storytelling I’ve done involved a computer desk, a webcam and action figures. No one ever saw these stories, and the hard drive that contained them is probably in a landfill somewhere. Then in high school, it was online roleplaying. It’s a lot like Dungeons and Dragons, except you never meet face to face, there are no dice, and the roleplaying happens on online forums. So it’s about ten times nerdier than Dungeons and Dragons. Oh and it was Star Wars. It started with me butting my head into whatever stories I could find, interjecting a character created by a moody teenager into perfectly fine storylines. It didn’t always go well, and eventually I received a few stern talking to’s. All with the goal of ensuring I fit better in stories, not in keeping me out. It was the first time I wrote stories for other people beyond myself, and the first time the strange, nerdy stories I wrote were actually accepted.
The script for this action scene, the one that led to me eating that headbutt, is the first thing I ever truly finished. It’s the whole reason I started this blog; I leave stories, characters and treatments unfinished. Bursts of inspiration grapple me, keeping me pinned until I’ve scratched out my consciousness over a couple of pages. Then I’m released, free to get back to my feet. That burst of inspiration? It’s leaning against the ropes, waiting for me to engage. It’s not quite done with me. I don’t engage. I slip out of the ring, sliding under the ropes. It stomps around the ring, frustrated. Were there a crowd, it would likely be booing. The time it takes for my inspiration to find me outside the ring, forcibly drag me back in and pin me again until I write something will vary. Alcohol and weddings are the only things so far that are known to accelerate the process. To call it my muse would be incredibly pretentious: I don’t consider myself an author, an artist, or even a creative who even deserves to label anything as his muse. I’d have to create something really worthwhile first. But my inspiration likes to manhandle me, and it’s the only way I’ll get things done. It keeps me from sleeping, eating, and particularly long pins keep me from bathing (I’m usually on my top game when it comes to hygiene).
So after being pinned, I completed a screenplay. It took several pins, several of my escape attempts. But this time I was pinned in front of a small gathering; the director, and the cinematographer. The first time was in his basement, with this thing I wrote thrown from a projector, splattered on the wall. This was me, my words up there. Sure, sometimes I’ll show someone what I wrote to show off (and partly to get an accurate read on how crap it is). This time, it was up there. Having it so large, literally in front of us, was different. They tore it apart in the best of ways, the constructive kind, and I rewrote it. Then I wrote it again, and rewrote that. Eventually we got something that could be called “final”. Then it was time to film the thing.
The cinematographer laughs as he tells us the headbutt doesn’t read well. I don’t really understand why, but I get the drift. We have to do it again. The friendly man playing a goon with exposed arms chuckles, maybe a bit nervous. He’s not as used to taking a good hit to the head, but he’ll toss you across a room with barely any effort. Meanwhile I’m just uncannily hardheaded (mostly figuratively). We complete the take, going a bit wider to avoid a repeat incident, and complete the scene.
I’m ecstatic as we wrap up the shoot. And the last thing on my mind is “Imagine if we were getting paid for this.”
And that’s what keeps me going. Because someday we’ll get paid to do what we love.