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Authors, Authors Everywhere — even on a film shoot

March 30, 2010

I just burned the candle at both ends last week. I worked an 8-hour shift, did nearly 12 hours on the set of the TV pilot 187 Detroit with James McDaniel (Lt. Fancy on NYPD Blue) and Mike Imperioli (Chris on The Sopranos). I then got two hours of sleep, went back to work Saturday morning for overtime. Then, I went straight to the set of 187 Detroit for eight more hours of filming (I’m the black detective in the green shirt, black blazer and an ugly ass tie that I think Harvey Keitel wore in Life on Mars).

By now, you’re asking the obvious.

Why are they filming a TV show about Detroit in Atlanta?

Sorry, can’t answer that one. A few weeks ago, I was shivering in a silk print shirt as an extra on the set of the Farrelly Brothers’ Hall Pass, which used Atlanta to double for summertime Providence, Rhode Island.

The point of this blog is that when the other extras found out that I was a real writer, suddenly everyone was a writer.

Everyone had either a book they’d started but not finished or a book they wanted to write. Of course, they wanted me to write it or co-write it for them. Alas, I was only able to help the most beautiful one (she was also a cop with a real gun, so I had more incentive).

Many of us have this desire to write. But, most of us also have the hidden desire to procrastinate. And while it was nice for everyone to want me to help them, it was a little disconcerting.

As I thought about it, I noted that it was kind of ironic because these same people had possessed the desire to be in acting. They’d gotten agents or scanned Craigslist or Facebook 24/7 to find roles. Many made being a background actor or extra their livelihoods (I just do it for fun). They found the will and desire to get into the acting biz and, yet, they did not apply the same desire to writing the books they said they always wanted to write.

The message seems to be that publishing a book is infinitely more difficult than being an actor. But, we all go through 12 years of schools in which we write and write and write. It should be more natural than acting, so why the hesitation?

I think writing forces us to use a lot more of our brain matter. Don’t get me wrong. I love being on film sets and TV shoots, but my “acting” requirements are just to follow the directions of the assistant directors or production assistants. Writing requires thousands and thousands of words that must “flow” and “excite” and “inform.”

The end result, though, is much better. I know my chances of winning an Emmy or Oscar for my “acting” is somewhere between “hell no” and “eff no,” but I can publish a book. Writing a book can be a labor of love. Publishers can edit my works, but they can’t edit me completely out like movie directors. And, in the end, a resume of book and short story titles seems to carry more weight than a resume constantly prefaced with the word “uncredited.”

I appreciate the people who view the Wicked Writers blog but I sincerely hope that those that we entertain and inspire get enough incentive to stop reading my wonderful words for a few minutes to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 30, 2010 8:39 am

    As always an informative and insightful post, Greg. If I ever film a movie I’m calling you 😉

  2. March 30, 2010 9:16 am

    Interesting experiences, Greg, and it sounds like you had your own celebrity status on the movie set (not uncredited). Great post.

  3. March 30, 2010 11:34 am

    Isn’t it funny that everyone has a book in ’em just like everyone has their opinions.

    Oh, and by the way, my fiance’s son is waiting on funding any day for a film he’s about to direct in New Orleans. If you can make it there as an extra, I’ll trade your books free for life to put in a good word for ya 😉

    • March 30, 2010 5:27 pm

      I’m not sure I could make it to the Big Easy, even if I tried, mainly because — well, it’s New Orleans.

      But, thanks for the offer.

  4. Harley D. Palmer permalink*
    March 30, 2010 12:32 pm

    Great post Greg. It is interesting how many “writers” you meet out there that always wanted to or never finished a novel. I meet quite a few of them at the park with my son, stay at home Mom’s who want to write children’s stories and such. But I also watch them kill themselves convincing their kids to never give up and keep trying. I find it quite humorous. How can you teach your children such values if they themselves don’t listen to their own advice?

    Then of course you get people like my Dad and my husband. They have no desire at all to write and they don’t even like doing it – but they come up with the most fantastic story ideas! My husband has seriously bailed me out of many a “writer’s block”. I often think it’s not fair that he has such fabulous ideas and he doesn’t even write!

    I don’t get people asking me to write or co-write with them, but they do ask for advice quite a bit. I’m becoming a pro at answering “How do you write with kids and a busy schedule?” or “How do you get past writer’s block?”

    • March 30, 2010 5:26 pm

      Thanks for reading. And I hope you don’t feel the need to bawl after my last chapters at the Writer’s Academy. In effect you have had the privilege of seeing my work in the raw, so to speak. Just remember the good parts and not all the dozens of bad parts.

  5. David Sartof permalink*
    March 30, 2010 1:39 pm

    Love the post, Greg. One question – the beautiful cop with the gun? Is there a story idea in there waiting to come out?

    It would also make an interesting poll to explore what metaphoric gun, when held to a budding author’s back, would help kick start their writing project!

    • March 30, 2010 5:25 pm

      Well, now that I think about it, there might just be a good story behind the beautiful cop with the gun. She used to be a fashion model and won some beauty pageants.

      And I do think that “gun” idea might be a good poll.

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