John's Farm

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

split rail fence

I'm fifteen, onstage, the representative from the French Club in Houston High School's first ever Junior Miss Pageant. The emcee, a popular local DJ, has just introduced me as I walked the stage in a gray and black velvet poufy gown from Dillard's. I hear him pause as he glances at the notecard that contains my name, my age, and my career aspiration, and he tells the crowd, "she dreams of one day moving to Hollywood where she will direct horror movies." He gave the crowd a sly smile. "Well, honey," he drawled. "Why didn't you just come out here with some fangs and fake blood?" I can report that for the talent portion of the evening, I delivered a monologue about a woman who killed her husband and hid him in the coat closet.

I did not win.

But I did move to Hollywood. I worked for many production companies reading screenplays. I hitched my star to a wildly talented writer who brought me from TV show to TV show. I learned a lot. But I accomplished little. Sure, I wrote scores of screenplays and TV specs. I joined a writer's group, took writing classes at UCLA, writing bootcamps and seminars. But I became complacent. I became lazy. I landed an agent and expected that my life would instantly change. Instead of writing new material, I obsessively rewrote the old. I planned a wedding instead of a career path. I convinced myself that I didn't want to work the long hours of television. I convinced myself that I didn't want to direct because it was too intimidating. Maybe novels were what I really needed to do instead. Maybe maybe maybe....

And then came the layoffs, and the pregnancy, and the carrot on the stick that meant leaving the city that symbolized everything I was still striving for in favor of one that offered  security, but little else. Two children and nearly 7 years later, I still grapple with that decision. But I've come to look at the decision differently and (mostly) judge myself less harshly for "giving up." I'm looking at it more like a hiatus.

So I am 37, a mom, living far away from the epicenter of where I thought my dreams would come true. And you know what else I'm doing? Getting shit done with my directorial debut, John's Farm, filming early Spring. It's got a kickass cast and crew, an amazing location, and quite possibly some burnt offerings to ensure we don't get rained out. It does not have fangs or fake blood, but it will be spooky. And it will be mine, and it will make my heart feel very, very good.

1 comment:

  1. i didn't know hollywood melissa, but i know that memphis melissa is awesome. and this film will also be awesome.

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