Posted by Kelli Joan Bennett
Day 270. 2:01am. I am awake. I am wide awake. I got in bed to go to sleep a little after 11pm. My body felt exhausted, my mind not so much. Three hours later, it still won’t shut off. I give up.
It’s one of those nights where it feels like the weight of the world is on my head and my heart.
At 11:36am this morning—no wait, that’s yesterday morning now—Dear Friend emailed me and posed these questions: Do you really want to act in the toothless script? Is it a great script that you want to produce regardless of whether you’re in it or not?
The answer is “no.” If I’m not starring in Toothless as the toothless woman and the script no longer has a toothless character in it, then, no, I won’t put my limited time and money into it. The toothless part is what gives it meaning to me personally and it’s what makes the script uniquely edgy. By the way, that answer goes for all three of these scripts on my slate. No, I won’t make any of them unless I’m starring in them. This experiment is as much for my actor as it is my producer. The goal is to marry the three things I love doing the most—creative producing, acting and writing. The concept for Toothless was born for one reason and one reason only: because I unexpectedly had a missing a tooth. And I decided to create something from what I had…which was the aforementioned missing tooth. If my tooth is no longer missing, then I don’t have it to create from anymore.
At 12:55pm yesterday, I received an email from Screenwriter Monica. She was responding to my email letting her know three things:
1. I’m considering doing a reading to take the next rewrite and production pass. Would she like to be involved? (She’s not contractually bound to do any more rewrites.)
2. I have no director.
3. I’m potentially not going to be toothless anymore and therefore, I may bag this project.
She wrote back a lovely email that began with, “Of course I can’t ask you to remain toothless just to shoot this film, but, what if…” She showed generous support and had some creative ideas on how to keep the project alive. Obviously, she wants to see all of her hard work end up on the screen. At 4:39pm yesterday I wrote her back a novel about my visit to the oral surgeon this afternoon—I mean yesterday afternoon. Here’s what I wrote:News from the oral surgeon: It’s going to take like another month and a half to get the permanent tooth ready to be put on…apparently molds have to be made, custom abutments have to be created, etc…it’s complicated. My oral surgeon said there’s no problem with delaying an extra four months, I just have to wear my retainer more often so my teeth and my bite don’t shift. He actually high-fived me when I told him about the toothless project. He was like, “who cares? leave it out until you make the film!” I’m like, “it’s a pain in the ass and I’m tired of having to take my tooth out to eat!” LOL. He’s a really cool guy. No way am I losing the GD missing tooth storyline! LOL. Besides the fact that it truly is the whole point of this project for me…creating from what I have: a missing tooth…As a producer, I do feel that it is a part of what makes the film have an edgy uniqueness and stand out from being just another cop movie. I love the missing tooth runner. Even before I read your email, after leaving my surgeon’s office (after his timeline news and positive support), I was leaning towards choosing to remain toothless for as long as it takes to get the toothless scenes shot…I can create a production schedule in a way where the toothless scenes are all shot out first, then I can have my dentist put my permanent tooth in and then shoot all the flashbacks last. Ultimately, I have to wait an additional six weeks from now anyway to get the permanent tooth on, so what’s another 10-14 weeks more from there?!?!? At the end of the day, it’s a great story to tell at film festival panels, right? 🙂 I am going to let myself sleep on it though. I’ll make an official decision in the morning.
Apparently, I’m not going to let myself sleep on it! Perhaps if I never go to sleep I never have to make a decision. And what a difference 11 hours can make! I went from “leaning towards,” to back to bagging it! I’m totally flip-flopping. I believe that is a clinical sign of sleep deprivation.
Oh, which for some reason reminds me of number 2 from above: I have no director. Director Brenda moved back to New Jersey and is currently producing a reality show in North Carolina. So, I’m director-less, which means I have no yin to my yang, no flip side of my coin, no peanut butter for my jelly. I’m alone. So, I will have to begin searching for and interviewing more directors. That is an aspect of producing I should be thrilled about but with a to-do list the size of Detroit which includes staring down 12 more weeks of editing on my documentary to give it my final hail Mary, a screenplay of my own to finish writing, the Declare Your Dream Experimental Motivation Project Discussion and Workshop happening in two weeks, taking meetings for Botox, developing three new columns and all of the other daily work I have for my new venture, it feels like a colossal straw that is breaking my back.
If I could sleep, it would all feel more doable afterwards, I’m sure.
I want this to be easier. I want to let the air out of my tires. I want to release the pressure and find some relief.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have made such a big deal about having to make a decision right away? Perhaps I’m hesitating on bagging the project and getting my tooth back in because I don’t want to let Screenwriter Monica down? Perhaps I’m hesitating on bagging the project because it will make me feel like I’m failing in my yearlong experiment in prolific creativity? Perhaps I’m wanting an excuse to give up? Perhaps I actually need to triage my projects and this one makes the most sense to get cut off first? I don’t know. Whatever is going on, apparently, sleep has nothing to do with it!
Here’s what I know right now besides that I need to sleep: I certainly need to be dynamic through this process as Eye-Doc Sis advised me over the weekend when all of this stress and panic began. I have to accept that things change…and accept it with grace. I’m not feeling too graceful at the moment—or tired. But, I still have to make an official decision. I think I have to decide not to decide right now. Or, I have to decide and move on. Good lord! Enough already. I must prioritize! I must triage in order to actually accomplish my next editing pass on the documentary before the end of the year. And at the end of the day, five years in the making, the documentary trumps every other project I have going. It just does. I am determined to complete that film and share it with the world. Everything else will have to wait. I want to finish my documentary. And, bottom line, I want my permanent tooth in as soon as possible. Enough said.
I’m still not even remotely sleepy but my body feels like it’s going to crumble. I believe I’m going to go crawl back into bed and see if I can coax the sandman to have his way with me. If any of you have made it to the end of this long, delirious rant, thank you and wish me luck. I’m curious to see how I feel after I do finally sleep. Will I feel the same? Will I feel different? Sleep is a magical thing. We’ll see what it creates.
Until tomorrow, create from what you have…sleepless nights.
UPDATE: 8:37am. I slept from 4:30am until 6:58am. I have no idea what in the world has gotten into me! Is the moon doing something funky? Or am I just an overextended, stressed out loon? I expect that I will do a face plant at some point soon but right now, I’m freakishly awake. I jumped on Twitter this morning and I have been wonderfully inspired by my Twitter Pals. It’s oddly been the only thing that has calmed me down from all of my own stress. We shall see how this day of creating goes. I’m scheduled to do a full day of editing, my first since last Wednesday. I’ve got to get back to it. I’m sure the minute I sit down at the Avid it will be like a sleeping pill. I’ll keep you posted.