Thoughts of Revisiting FireFly Prior to Doing the Dishes

I’m sitting on my balcony with a coffee at my side. It’s sunny and warm enough to get by with a hoodie. Dishes are on my radar, and beyond that, perhaps a shower and a trip to the library on Queen Street East for a bit of writing.

My meetings yesterday went well. A long time advertising strategist at an established Toronto production company was impressed with a proposal I drew up. We met for an hour, and made plans to meet again in a week. Whether this particular project moves forward or not, it seems I’ve gained an ally behind the scenes.

I did find time yesterday to pick away at Act I. Mostly I rewrote a couple scenes that were already down on the page, but lacked inspiration. I think they’re in a much better place now. Afterwards, Elizabeth came over and we watched three episodes of FireFly. The whole time I kept thinking how brilliant that series is, and how I could possibly improve my own script by taking mental notes. Needless to say, I find myself inspired this morning, with a zest to get yet unwritten scenes down on the page.

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A Tale of Two Competing Priorities

I’m home during the day for the first time in a four days – which is giving me time to catch up on emails, phone calls and follow-up. Monday & Tuesday, I worked on the set of Lost Girl. Wednesday I was on a commercial, and yesterday I worked as a daily in the Accounting Department of Inland – a feature film by Depa Mehta. I have two meetings downtown this afternoon, and two more days of Lost Girl coming up next week.

It’s good to be busy. I’m hoping to continue this pace by staying on people’s radar. I’ve had countless meetings now, and the list of individuals whom I’ve actually worked for is growing. There remains a lot of uncertainty in my near future, but I am confident that I’m on the right track. Every production accountant I’ve talked to, has told me that they haven’t ‘looked’ for a job in years. After working two or three different shows, they became established and their phone rings. The accounting caucus is relatively small, and everybody knows everybody else – and they all talk to each other, about each other, when looking for positions to fill on their respective shows. After three months, I’ve become ‘known’ to a handful of that group.

I’m finding it difficult to carve out time to write, with more practical matters so prominent in my headspace. This guilts me out. I was asked to write 10 pages for a special event at the Toronto Cold Reads series. I’m also hoping to complete Act I of Machiavelli & Tymes by the end of the weekend.

Hmm… after writing that last sentence, I stared at it for a couple minutes. ‘Hope’? Fuck that. I’m going to complete Act I on Sunday. I’m going to start on it today. After my shower, and before my 2pm meeting. And then for a bit after that as well.

And then I’m going to watch the Rider game tonight.

Leap of Rationality

I didn’t sleep well on Thursday night. A disappointing turnout at the table read meant I had to read one of the roles – which meant, I had to read the character who was based on myself – which meant, reliving my whole marriage all over again. I was not expecting to be so emotionally caught up with it, especially since I’d been working with that script so intently as a writer.

The end of my marriage was a major reversal in my life. Feels like a million years ago sometimes, and it feels like I was some other person when it happened. The decision to move to Toronto was another major upheaval. I still struggle sometimes, being so far away from the people I care about, and basically starting my career over from scratch. But this is where I am, and while mistakes were made, I would make those same decisions again.

A theme seems to be emerging in my life right now – ‘reflections on the past’. I dislike thinking about those things, because mostly I see my missteps along the way. Too many things I’d rather not contemplate. But still I go there.

Why? Why now? What lessons have I yet to learn from those days?

I got a call to do some location scouting for a commercial on Friday. I also picked up two days on Lost Girl after reaching out to Alan, who’s the 1st AD on the show. I’m up for an accounting position on another show. No start date yet. There also seems to be some coals in the fire, after I spent yesterday afternoon crashing 11 production offices, looking to  meet AD’s to pick up even more daily work.

After three months in the Directors Guild, I figured out that daily work as a Set PA, supplemented by the odd TV Commercial will keep the bills paid, while pursuing long term Production Accounting gigs – which in turn, will supply the stability that I crave. It’s a prudent course. Many are doing the exact same thing, so it’s not like I’m taking a leap of faith.

Leap of faith.

Another theme from the past eight years of my life. Diving headlong into the great unknown has always held great appeal for me. I’d rather embrace some unknown new direction, rather than build on what I already know intimately well. This came up in the read on Thursday. We were talking about my protagonist, but I was thinking about me. I saw a whole string of abandoned pursuits laying about my past. Women. Projects. Opportunities.  Mistakes.

And then as I write this, right here, right now, an idea floats through my mind. Perhaps I’m not as flighty as I think I am. When something’s not working, I change directions. That’s a good thing right? I look at my past and I see that pattern time and again. Maybe I just need to work on coming up with a better plan before I jump.

Dunno. I’ll have to give it some more thought.

Hours Before the Big Moment

Tonight is the big night.

I invited every Toronto actor, colleague, producer, and friend in my contacts list, to my table read tonight. I’m excited to see how the room will respond to this latest draft of Moment In Between. 

Unlike past table reads that I’ve organized, I’m trying to give this more of an ‘event’ type of feel. It’s taking place in the Black Swan, 3rd floor on Danforth Ave. There’s a stage. There are lights. There’s cocktail type seating.

We’ll see who shows up.

In other news, I completed the step outline for Machiavelli & Tymes on Saturday. I’m three scenes into Act I right now, and with a concerted effort, should be into Act II by Monday. Write a little bit every day is what they say. I’m hopeful my Minesweeper habit doesn’t eat too deeply into my productivity.

Other than that, I’ll be tapping my ‘work the phones and emails, put myself out there, and land my next gig’ routine for the rest of the day. Wish me luck. With all of it. Please.

Minesweeper

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I discovered Minesweeper on the internet yesterday. You can play it for free. You can play it for hours at a time – which I did. And now I feel like a druggie on a cocaine binge.

Minesweeper for gawd sakes! It’s not even a cool game, but it is a great game. I used to play it to pass the time on grave yard shifts when I dispatched for CAA in my university days. Something about that game would light my brain up. Hands fell off the clock.

My mind is attracted to pattern recognition type of activities. Pattern recognition and logic. It’s like scooby snacks for a puppy. Nothing can stimulate me like how that game does.

I need to NOT play it for a very long time. Reclaim my productivity. Feel better about myself.

Indeed, today hath many goals. I need to get some scripts printed for the table read tomorrow night. I need to get some writing done on the first act of Machiavelli & Tymes.

I need to shower.

A Time for Me, Myself, and I

So here’s how it is…

I used to race to my laptop and tap out the latest most trivial drivel from my day’s events, in an effort to make sense of it all – and possibly make myself appear interesting in the process. And to take the exercise a bit further down the line, it is a worthwhile effort, trying to make something out of nothing, as not every day in one’s daily life, can fireworks be found. Still, there were more than a handful of occasions where I lacked judgement, causing complications for my personal life.

Over time, I have become less eager to tell the world about myself. I’m no longer interested in appearing to be interesting. But I do possess a desire to preserve my personal history. I look back on my years and I can read the record of who I was, and how I thought during those times. I wish I could read my dad’s thoughts from years gone by. Maybe someday, Jazz might want to read mine.

These thoughts ran through my mind last night as I stood in the kitchen, cutting up broccoli for supper. I heard a song playing that took my back to my university days. Suddenly I remembered sitting in a particular theatre class. I remembered waking up in my dad’s house. I remembered the way I dressed myself. And I remembered a certain red head who occupied my thoughts.

For the first time in my life, I wanted to wake up and spend a day walking through my past.

And then another thought struck me – that somewhere out there in the aether, is a future me, reminiscing about who I am, right here, right now, in this time, standing in my kitchen cutting broccoli. And Jazzy is out with her friends. And Aubree is crashing on my couch. And news about my next gig has yet to arrive. And two days from now, a table read for Moment in Between at the Black Swan on Danforth is scheduled, and a room full of actors, friends, and creative types are committed to be there. And life is challenging right now.

But in the end, the problems will be forgotten, and the good things will live on in memory.

Drama On the Balcony

Last time I sat on my balcony, I heard a rustling from behind my chair. When I turned and looked, and saw what it was, I called Jazzy over. She was reluctant, but I persisted.

“Jazzy! Come quickly! Hurry!”

She ran over. “What!?”

“Kitty cat.”

“Where?”

“Behind my chair. Come closer.”

So she did. Nice and close.

“AHHHHHH!!!”

She ran back into the house, slammed the door to her room, and stared at it from behind her window. Terrified.

The racoon seemed about as scared as she was. Wide-eyed, and completely surprised to see us. One hellova a thing to wake up to, I imagine – the sight of two perfect strangers with unknown intentions.

So there we were, me, Jazzy, and the racoon. I wasn’t keen on taking on roommates, and I kind of like using my balcony without feeling like I have to ask permission. So the animal had to go – it had to be made to feel very very unwelcome.

“Don’t kill it dad!”

I looked at Jazz somewhat stunned. Kill a racoon? Me? What kind of a dad did she take me for? I’m a big wuss when it comes to being mean. If only the racoon was a computer glitch of some sort – then I could get downright snarly at it. But this creature was furry, and had really big sad eyes.

I rattled some furniture about and the racoon just looked at me, with its head kind of tilted sideways.

“Leave!” I said it with an exclamation mark.

The racoon continued looking at me.

“Go!” Another exclamation mark.

I moved the chair the racoon was hiding behind.

“What are you doing! Stop it dad!”

The racoon made a bee-line for my bbq. Not the bbq! Dammit! I wanted to cook burgers later! I suddenly was reminded of my battle with a pair of pigeons back in Regina. At least this animal was silent.

I resolved to leave the racoon with no shelter, pulling the bbq to the middle of my balcony, slamming the door shut, and watching the creature from behind my window. Jazzy continued to watch from behind hers. Big stare off. With a racoon.

It was still there 20 minutes later. My tummy grumbled. Burgers needed to be cooked. And I wondered what racoon would taste like.

“Dad!”

At first I wondered if I thunk the thought out loud, and my daughter was about to scold me. But then I saw it too.

The racoon was moving. Looking for a way out. It crawled down the side of the house and it was gone. It was really gone.

And then I cooked burgers.

That Moment In Between the Fiction and the Reality

I completed the latest draft of my screenplay last night. I felt strangely out of place afterwards. A screenplay about myself, and the end of my marriage to PJ, that first began as an entry to a 24-hour play writing competition seven years ago. So many drafts and incarnations since then. So many different versions of myself since – both as a writer, and as a character in my own story.

One of the greatest compliments I received from my writers group, was that the story didn’t feel like a deeply personal, autobiographical work. It felt like a screenplay.

Indeed, I worked hard to make the piece dramatically sound. Real life was slowly stripped away to make room for fictional characters in a fictional story. And with that one final tweak to the very final page of the script, I felt like I tied everything together. I felt like all the themes and ideas, and character arcs came together in a beautiful symmetry, over one final stroke of my protagonist’s pen. I wrote the end of my play, and he wrote the end of his.

And now we’re finished.

I’ve had meetings with dozens of producers over the past few months. Many have been waiting for me to send them this script, so when it shows up in their inbox, it won’t be unexpected. I’m confident that I’ll make a deal with somebody, and then we’ll see what happens from there.

Speaking of making deals, I’ve agreed to terms with Next Stage Press for the rights to my play, Not Being A Dick. I’m going to be a published writer! For real. 

The contract still needs to be signed, and there may be some formatting and other bits of business to finalize, but it’s really going to happen. What’s most interesting, is that the deal for this play (inspired by real life events) came in the same week I completed another script about my own real life events. 

I’ve become very not comfortable with sitting still to reflect on my past. The older I get, the more people go missing from my everyday life – which seems to be a fact of living. A lot of the people we take for granted in the present, slowly slip away until one day we realize that they’re no longer in the picture.

I think that’s why I felt so out of place last night. I brought all those people, places and events out of my past, and into my present, and I used them like a tool to craft a fictional story – but the memories between the words remain as vivid and distant as ever. The past living inside the present – available to the highest bidder.