Whenever I’m involved in the production of an event, I always arrive early. First, I hate to be rushed. Second, it’s about setting everything up. Finally, I like to just sit and take it all in for a few moments. I don’t meditate. It’s about quiet time. Because the time for this event was starting shortly before 11 AM – the table read for First Signal.
This journey didn’t just start when I wrote the script for First Signal, it started back in 2006 when I wrote First World. When you write a screenplay you never really know where it’s going to go or who is going to be involved. But when I was watching Lindy Nettleton reprieve her character of Allison Colby, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from First World, I was not only enormously thankful for her return, but the realization of the journey this project has taken since those early days.
As a writer, there is something surreal about watching actors bring your characters to life. I’ll admit, when I was writing First Signal I had several actors in mind for certain parts. There’s a reason why you see filmmakers work with the same actors because you know what you’re going to get in a performance. But then there is also the excitement about working with new actors and crew. They bring things to the table that you just don’t see. Not because you don’t want to, but as the writer you tend to have blinders on to keep the train of the story on a certain track.
Case in point when Vernon Aldershoff and Adam LaFramboise were in a confrontational moment. Vern suggested the line of “You can sit down” or “Sit down” before his character answers Adam’s. As I mentioned to the room, I have no problem with such additions (or deletions) if it adds to the vibrancy of the story. As a filmmaker you have to let a story breathe. The key, is to make sure it’s remembered by the actors and then noted by the director. Yes, I made a variety of notes from yesterday’s table read and will be following up with the actors and crew.
This is the first time I’ve held a table read and I’m glad I did. It wasn’t just about hearing the words come to life, it was about the actors and crew meeting each other and getting familiar with their respective styles. In the end it’s about chemistry for the next time we are all together it will be on set.
It’s impossible to thank the actors and crew enough for believing in First Signal. Your dedication and talent means a first rate production. And from their hosting of First Signal’s auditions in April to yesterday’s table read, my thanks is also greatly extended to The Verve Crowne Plaza in Natick. Indeed, a film has many behind the scenes partners. Each one of them is part of the production engine that finds its way to the silver screen.
It was 1985 and my first trip out of the country was to England. I don’t remember what my first tourist stop was on that trip, but one destination was the British Museum. For me, I’ve always been drawn to the “old masters” – the works of Leonardo da Vinci and the like. There’s something about the imagery and stories those paintings tell. Whenever I travel I always endeavor to find a museum. But sometimes one does not need to board a plane to discover works of art. Here in Worcester, MA we have quite a jewel of our own – the Worcester Art Museum.
My mother enrolled me in a variety of art classes at the museum when I was growing up. I cannot stress the importance of being introduced to art, music or any other creative endeavor at a young age. Since those early days of mine, my mother has enrolled her great granddaughter in some classes at the museum. While I may be a bit biased towards a family member, I’ll just say that Julie is beyond gifted when it comes to creating original art. She’s also quite the storyteller with some videos she has made.
My mother and I both celebrated our birthdays this past week. The last few years I have started a trend of visiting a museum on mine. I hadn’t been to the Worcester Art Museum in years. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I even visited. But no sooner did I walk in and I saw some familiar exhibits from days long past. That’s what I love about museums, they understand the past while presenting the moment.
I’ve never been a fan of contemporary art. I personally find it pointless and without meaning and effort. Taking a white canvas and literally throwing paint at it, isn’t art in my book it’s just a waste of good paint. Or, to quote Nigel Bruce as Major Giles Lacy in Rebecca, “Not this modern stuff I hope. You know, turn a lampshade upside down to represent the soul in torment.” But that doesn’t mean one isn’t open to discovering new artists.
I discovered the work of James Dye this week. The moment I laid eyes on his works I found myself just staring at them. From the detail to the construction of his story to the messaging within, I’ve never seen an artist represent so much in a print. It is the type of work that will speak differently to every person that looks at it. Certainly Dye has his own message to accomplish, but it’s clear that the artist wants us to form our own representation of the work.
To quote from the Worcester Art Museum, “Through ink, James explores the ritual nature of art and the symbiosis of image and story. He draws inspiration from mythology both personal and established to create works that speak to the imagination”. There’s no doubt in my mind that a film could be created off one of Dye’s works. From what I learned he was partially inspired by the artist William Blake. In the movie Red Dragon, the character of Francis Dolarhyde is taken with the Blake painting The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun.
But the world of film is where I will be concentrating this week as pre-production continues for First Signal.