Blog No. 185
As a young boy, whenever I enjoyed a movie (and I watched so, so many) I would spend the next few days imagining myself as part of the universe. It started simply as wanting to be the main character (who doesn’t want to be Indiana Jones?) but quickly developed into creating new characters and scenarios to add myself into. I would be an old buddy of Indy who is just as cool, but isn’t afraid of snakes (and could land the plane). It wasn’t about being in the movie, it was about being part of the story. It’s likely the root to all my storytelling desires. Before I figured out the key difference between being a character and an actor, I thought acting might be a good career. Not only do you get to be in movies, you get to have money, cars, and excitement. The dream of being an actor lasted a few months (at best). Who needs that kind of attention? Besides, it’s real work. Like hard work and long hours (and that’s when you’re successful). Though the dream died, my fantasies didn’t. To this day, I tend to daydream about what characters I would be in my favourite movies. It’s a good exercise and it excises the desire to make your characters too perfect.
It’s not like I have never done any acting. I was in a couple plays in high school and took drama. As shy as I am naturally, it was a big help in gaining the tools to overcome it (or fake it as I so often do). I was even in a play outside of school (but it was just filling in when a real actor couldn’t make a show). It’s not like I’m any good. Naturally I don’t have the outgoing nature or energy to act, and I don’t have the inclination to overcome that with knowledge or hard work. I bumbled through a few lines and let the real actors carry me. When you are a fill in, they don’t tend to mind.
Then, I was asked if I wanted to be in a commercial. Did the old child-like desire to be an actor come back when I was offered the opportunity? No. Not at all. My initial reaction was my usually self disparaging remarks. Me? Surely the offer was in jest, or some horrible mistake. When I stopped to think about it though, it seemed like a fun thing to do. The offer came from fellow local author Vanessa Shields, whose husband was the director. Why would I turn down a fun day breaking out of my shell, trying something new, getting a pay check on what would otherwise be a day off? I warned Vanessa that I wasn’t any good, but she assured me it would be fine, so I thanked her for the offer and on the day of the shoot, drove out to the location ready for an adventure.
And an adventure it was. I got to play the husband/father roll and work with a darling (and talented) little girl, and a real actor playing my wife. The director was patient and encouraging, the crew knew what they were doing, and I got to eat more ice-cream that I ever have in one day. I paid for that with sore tummy and a few extra pounds, but it was really good. The day was a lot of fun and immensely interesting. Anything learned is a positive addition to your life, doubly so when you can use it in future writing. (I don’t have plans to write about acting, but now I have something to base it on). By the time I was on my way home I was exhausted, I’m not so good with the outgoing energy, but it was a great experience. I don’t think I was terrible either. I was asked if I would be interested in the future and I told them I was. Maybe if they are short another guy, I’ll get called up again. It’s weird having cameras in your face and it’s a lot of work, but I’ll gladly do it again (and not just for the money).
A little bit on the end (if you’ll permit me). Last Saturday I was in Cottam for the town wide yard sale. It was another fun and exhausting day. After the disappointing sales in London, it was a successful day. We only sold 37 books, but when your only overhead is driving out there, that a successful day. Our next event is back at the Fogolar Flea Market June 17th and 18th. Books are always cheaper to buy from me in person, plus you can get them signed (for when I am a famous writer, or actor if that doesn’t work out!).