“I’m so ashamed of what I’m doing.”
Believe it or not, this is the lead in to the blog I’m writing for my mom, in honor of her birthday.
Believe it or not, this is a very ironically happy statement.
Believe it or not, I am celebrating.
You see, something really amazing and cosmic has happened. It’s a full circle.
I will try to be brief as I explain . . .
In 2005, I stood on the set of my first big deal Hollywood movie. It was, at that time, the greatest achievement of my professional life to write that film. It was also one of the worst experiences of my life. Strike that—it was THE worst experience of my life. Because two days after that movie wrapped shooting, I got word that my mother was dead. I wandered ’round an airport for eight hours after I got that news, feeling lost. Like everything I ever wanted and loved was blown away. Like every goal I’d ever reached for or aspired to for had been perverted and handed back to me as a tragic series of bitter anecdotes. You can’t make this shit up sometimes. In the years that followed, I struggled hard with my mom’s death, as many do. It hurt worse than anything, left a deep chasm in my heart. It took more than ten years to pull myself up from that place. I had to hit bottom many times. I had to almost kill myself with booze, suffer my most broken heart . . . and I was even run over by a truck, which knocked me into a pit of hell for quite some time.
Well, time has passed.
And I’m here to tell you that things do get better.
That it is possible to rebuild and be reborn.
Twelve years later, in 2017, I have just watched the final take in dailies of my first produced movie since my mom died. The shoot wrapped two days ago. I was blessedly nowhere near the set. But I have been consulted at every stage of production, from casting to locations to final assemblies. I have watched the whole thing come together, sitting in the same chair I wrote it in. How it works is that they pipe in every raw take of every scene on a web server and we all download the clips a little bit at a time as the shoot progresses. And then I get to watch it all and make all my comments to the producers and director and editor, like: “Hey, why isn’t that set dressed right” or “Wow, what an amazing actress!” All that. It’s been surreal and special. And it’s my first feature length movie, really. I’ve written a lot of goddamn screenplays . . . but as the fates often go in Hollyweird, most all of them (including some things that would have been really awesome, like Phantasm 5 and Bubba Ho-Tep 2) were doomed to oblivion before a single frame of film was shot. That was why I got into publishing more than ten years ago—that’s why I remain in publishing to this day. You get tired of life in “development hell” on every script you write. But Hollyweird finally called to me again. This script made it through development in record time—it’s part of a two picture deal, actually. Another one begins shooting in April. There will be two more after that. And, as I have just told you, the final shot on the very first one was lensed just two days ago.
And today is my mother’s birthday.
I’m telling you . . . you cannot make up this shit.
Unlike the last time, this is not a requiem for my mom’s life and a lament for my old dreams of being a filmmaker. It is a celebration for her and a rebirth of those dreams. I hate to sound all corny and shit, but that’s exactly what’s happening here. It just blows my fucking mind. I am so overwhelmed with emotion and amazement that I cannot find the words—which is pretty darn unusual for me, mister-motormouth-diarrhea-of-the-blog—so I will simply say this:
Magic does exist. In us. The powers of light and darkness are ours to command. I believe in this. Because I have lived it for twelve years.
For those of you (all three of you) who read me regularly, you may be wondering what the name of my new movie is and/or when it will be coming out. That, I cannot mention at the moment. But it’s a pretty big deal, and I’ll be announcing it here soon. And I will also tell you this: In a touch of supreme cosmic irony, the final shot that was lensed—or at least the last one that was sent to us in dailies—was an image of a woman crying: “I’m so ashamed of what I’m doing.”
Naturally, it wouldn’t be me if it wasn’t a dark number, right?
But sitting here, looking at that shot, and pondering the implications . . . I am double-fold blown away. Ironies on ironies. Layers on layers. Mirror images and cosmic full-circles. Of course that would be the last line. Of course that would be our final shot. Because I am not ashamed. I am anything but ashamed. I’m telling stories again on film. Imagine that.
It only happened because I never gave up on what I wanted. Because I was broken and I fixed myself. Because there is magic in the world.
Thank you, magic.
And happy birthday, mom.
It took a while . . . but I made it back.
I love you and I live on.