I stare at the ceiling with heavy unblinking eyes. Watching the decades old popcorn ceiling has become a surprisingly effective way to pass sleepless hours night after night. The lights from the street give just enough illumination for the puffs of plaster to transform into fascinating shapes much like watching clouds on a windy day.
A warm breeze rustles the white linen curtains at the foot of my bed. Enjoying the rush of air waft over me, I sit at the edge of my bed and stare into downtown Seattle. The thousands of fluorescent lights give the city a vaguely orange glow. I can see the headlights of well spaced out cars coming in from west Seattle across the bridge.
My eyes begin to water and burn from lack of sleep, causing my vision to blur and the lights to grow in intensity. Suddenly, all those lights remind me of the set, of cameras, dozens of people milling around, writers hovering over their scripts discussing last minute changes, extras and stand-ins loitering over the catering table, all the in and outs of the business that I miss and crave so desperately.
Apparently, I have a great deal of talent. At least thatís what Iíve been told. The actors, executives, my friends who I write scripts with, and of course my family and closest friends think Iím destined for stardom. In college and in the years thereafter, Iíve won award after award for my direction of play after play. Iíve received rave reviews and appreciation for the times Iíve directed television sitcoms. Actors appreciate my forthrightness in getting my point across and getting their best to come out on camera. The Powers that Be appreciate my consistent ability to come in under budget and with an effective show in the can. Yes, Iím quite the talented guy. The talented guy who canít seem to land a freaking job.
I have plenty of support from those closest to me. Thereís been offers of money, advice, and I have several standing offers to stay with various family members. Thereís nothing quite like knowing that those I care the most about continue to believe in me, and thereís nothing quite like feeling that Iím letting them down.
Yes, I can direct plays, which I truly love to do. There are aspects of the stage and a natural high that comes from a live performance that cannot be duplicated elsewhere. Thereís only one problem; thereís no money there.
Hollywood is a funny business. Itís been said that, ďItís all in who you knowĒ. No, itís not. I know people, bankable television and movie stars. These are people who you have seen on the big screen, people who know me, have seen my work, who would like to work with me again, and they do nothing to help. Why is it the people who want to help you the most are the ones who often canít, and those can choose not to?
Iíve been asked if Iím angry with God for allowing me stay in this station of unemployment. Not at all. In fact, in some ways I feel closer to Him than ever. Iím thankful for the abundance of gifts He has bestowed upon me. I do have talent. I know exactly what I want to do with my life. I know what makes me happy, my work and family. There are many others in this world who have less. Iím thankful for what I have.
That doesnít mean Iím sitting on my laurels. As I sit on my grandparentsí front porch listening to the night sounds of the city, I make my decision.
ďYou really going to make your own short film?Ē
Firmly, without doubt, ďYes, I am. And I need you and your extensive lighting skills to help me do it. For free.Ē
ďCome on, you know I canít do that.Ē
Smirking, ďCanít or wonít?Ē
ďBoth. Look, Iíve got bills to pay too.Ē
I just look at him with raised eyes. Finally he runs his hand through his hair, laughs, shakes his head.
ďOkay, okay. I can do it for cost.Ē
Repeat similar talks with my actors, producer, cameraman, and so on. Before I know it, I have a staff, location, and a cast for the bargain price of twelve grand. Much of that money comes from family members who give what they can.
With an abundance of joy and praise, I call for quiet, check the camera and yell, ďACTION!Ē
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