What is easier? To believe when everyone else does? Or to believe when everyone else has doubt? This is a question that I’ve always known how to answer but it was never tested until now. It’s a lot easier to agree, to say yes, to go with the flow, to stay quiet. It takes unwavering courage, deep-rooted faith, and marble convictions to stand firmly alone while the others shake their heads at you.
Allow me to explain. For this particular film course I took this semester, three students had the opportunity to see their screenplay come to life. The way these students were chosen was through a voting process. However, in order to garner the interest of the absolute strangers we call classmates, you have to sell them your idea – you have to pitch.
I sat there in my swivel chair, leaning at times to stare at the ceiling, and then sitting upright to glance at the bleeding script strewn all over my desk. Bleeding because I marked it with red ink (and because I’ve always heard this expression and wanted to experience it for myself). I know my characters better than anyone. I believe in their story, their words, their feelings, and their actions. Now, my characters may not always act the way I want them to, but that’s what happens when you marry your ideas to reality. They become their own and are happy to be free from your mind. I feel it, too. Relief and expression surging from my heart, out of my hands, and into the work I do.
Once I finished arguing with myself about certain choices I made, I thought about my story. Was I happy with it? Yes. Was it perfect? Of course not, but that’s okay. My characters are riddled with flaws, so it’s only right that their story is, too. Although, format, spelling, and grammar was corrected if needed. Then I thought about my classmates, or rather, the other potential filmmakers. What were their stories about? Were they thinking this exact same thing? Would their characters get along with mine? Question after question came to me, but I couldn’t let this continue. I had to focus my energies into my own work – not the competition. And while I kept it in mind that this was a competition, I didn’t dwell on it.
The hours continued to fly by as I tried to figure out what to say about a story no one else knew but myself, about characters who may appear harsh and vulgar to others, but to me, were in pain. How could I convince the others, who were also hoping to be chosen, that my story needed to breathe more than theirs did? I grasped the pages and felt its need to live. I read the words and felt their need to be heard. I wrestled with thoughts that needed to provoke. What does this all come down to? Belief.
I read over my script again and again. Every time I did, it pled with me to say the right things, to exude the right emotions, to connect with a room full of strange competition, and to pour out every agony and every pain held between each line. And I promised it that I would. I promised my story that I would justify its existence with my belief in it. And that is what I did.
On my drive to school, my mind was flooded with what to say. Thankfully, I typed out my pitch to have in case I needed to remind myself of something. When I got to the classroom, I felt the subtle tension in the room. Anxiety to win and anxiousness to create. After a few students pitched, my heart didn’t beat any slower. It actually increased in pulses because it meant my turn would be soon.
My name was called, and I walked up to the front of that room, doused in compassion and haste. Looking out at all of their faces, I forgot about the competition. They want to express and they want to feel. They looked like innocent children, eager to hear me speak. It was this shift in my outlook that my characters were telling me about. They told me to make them feel the story as if it were already alive. So I did and the vulgarities became painful realities, the humor became ironic life circumstances, and the characters became the people in that room.
I sat down to the gaze of a strang- I mean, friend, and he told me – “you know what you want.”
I smiled and later found out that they all knew what they wanted, too. For my story to come to life.
“To Film” is a series written by writer and film student, Rosalie J. Kakos. Currently, Rosalie J. Kakos is a Community Affairs Intern at WWJ-TV/CW50 CBS Detroit.