Now to the final chapter of my backstory. Then we can move on to my exploits in directing my first film.
After leaving the world of stand up comedy, I went through a lengthy withdrawal period. I worked a series of unsatisfying and low paying jobs. I had quit college. I was bright and talented, but I had no real world skills. I was a writer and a performer, so I ended up in menial jobs. It was great having all the time I needed to be with my son, helping to raise him and being a major force in his life. We have a bond that will last forever. That part was fantastic, and really was what kept me going.
The other part, however, sucked badly. I felt like I had lost my identity. I was a comic, but nobody recognized me as such. I was doing things that felt beneath me. I was depressed without realizing it. I didn’t know it at the time, but I have a condition called “dysthymia”, also known as “neurotic depression”. It is a mild form of depression, not the deep, “life sucks and I’m suicidal” kind. It’s just causes a general dissatisfaction with life and an inability to enjoy anything.
The mildness is good and bad. Good because it’s not as crippling as deeper depressions, but bad because you can suffer with it for years and not even know it. One of the problems is that a major symptom is a disconnect from other people and isolation exacerbates it. So, it’s a self-perpetuating illness. I eventually started seeing a therapist and she correctly diagnosed me. Now that I’m aware of it, I can handle it. I recognize the symptoms early and I can pull myself out of it. It’s kind of funny. When things are going particularly badly in my life, my dysthymia sets in and brings me down. I pull myself back up, but go back down again. Sometimes, my mood will change ten times a day! It’s a wild ride and it’s actually kind of fun and challenging to navigate. (But I wouldn’t wish it on anyone).
Back to our story. I spent a long time in my depressed state, completely ignoring my talents. It’s sad to say, but I’ve always been a world class underachiever. Finally, deep into middle age, I am working to change that. And I will. Guaranteed.
I was in and out of therapy, but two years ago, I made a number of breakthroughs. I decided that my life needed to change. I could no longer work these mindless jobs and struggle financially. The struggling wasn’t so bad. I’ve done it all my life and I am very good at it. But if I was gong to have to scuffle, it was going to be doing something I loved. I thought long and hard about what I would want to do if I could do anything. The answer was make movies. Something I have wanted to do since I was in high school. My son was grown, technology had made filmmaking more accessible and the internet made networking and connecting with like-minded people much easier.
I decided to start by writing a new screenplay. I went through the number of ideas that were still in my head from my foray into writing years ago. I also had a number of newer ones, from my stand up years and after. One concept stood out. The best one, the one I knew could make a great film. Yes, my imaginary woman story. I was now ready. I was a member of ASC (American Society of Cynics), the hope within me now a tiny flame (which, by the way, is going to go out very soon). I had been rejected by many more women, sometimes quite harshly, and life had beaten me to a pulp. (It never knocked me out however. I always get back up). Filled with a great passion to tell my story, I started work on November 1, 2010.
I spent a good year on the script, getting excellent feedback from a screenwriters’ group I joined in July of 2011. I now moderate it and we have a terrific collection of writers who I find invaluable to my development. The script, titled, SOUL MATE, is still the best thing I’ve ever written. People seem to like it very much. It’s been described as “unique, fun, funny and thought-provoking”. It’s currently a finalist in a screenwriting competition. Top eight out of 501 entries. The winner will be announced tomorrow. All of the finalists answered eleven interview questions. You can check mine out through the link above the picture of my script.
SOUL MATE is something of which I am immensely proud. It has to make it to the screen some day. I have a few producers considering it, but if no one else does, I’m going to shoot it myself. I just have to gain enough experience. Since completing SOUL MATE, I’ve worked on a few other projects. I have a first draft of another feature. I haven’t been able to finish it, as I have multiple projects going on right now, but I’ll get back to it. I’m did a rewrite on a script called FACADES, for a writer/director I met on LinkedIn. He’s planning to get it into production later this year. I still do revisions about once a week based on his notes.
I’m also working on a new short, but the majority of my time is spent on the project that launched this blog, my short comedy ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? It’s interesting, but IIR, to a large extent owes it’s existence to SOUL MATE. Back when I first conceived of the idea, I told my ex I wanted to write a romantic comedy (be put on notice, I will not use the popular abbreviation, rom com. I hate it. Why do people use it anyway? Because it rhymes? Stop being lazy, it only takes an extra second to write it out). Anyway, when I told her, she laughed. “You? You are going to write a romantic comedy? You don’t have a romantic bone in your body!” Those were her words and she is 100% right. I am the least romantic guy in the world. I let her read a draft of SOUL MATE. She really liked it and was very surprised I wrote it. It made me think. What if there was a writer, maybe he was a director too. He makes romantic comedies that women love. They eat them up, they swoon, they talk about how lucky his wife must be. But in real life, he’s the least romantic guy in the world. It drives his wife crazy. And I knew, there’s a story. Thus, ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? was born. Here’s the logline: When the wife of a successful writer/director of popular romantic comedies complains about the lack of romance in their marriage, her husband accommodates her the only way he knows how.
I developed it quickly. I went from concept to first draft in three days. (Keep in mind, it’s a fifteen page short, but I am still really fast!) I kept the cast small, the locations few, and avoided any kind of expensive special effects and props. This would be my directorial debut. And now it’s happening. I built my initial team using talented friends from my screenwriter’s group and we are now in preproduction. Tomorrow, I will have $5000 in the bank to fund the film.
We’ve covered my background sufficiently. Tomorrow, we can move forward on the production of ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? I hope you find it interesting. I think it will be helpful to me as a budding film director to have a written account of the things that went through my mind as I undertook this challenging endeavor.