On The Road: Night Drives, Tornadoes, and Cyndi Lauper
New York City - July 11, 2013
Stories don’t always start at the beginning— But for you, for this… That’s just how it goes.
I moved from New York to Maine this past November. After the hurricane. After the election. I was ready to go somewhere when the opportunity to live in Maine for 3 months came up and I thought, “Why not? I’m developing a lil’ film… I’ll get to hole up in a cabin on an Atlantic island, build fires, and write a life-changing screenplay. Let’s go.”
And I went.
Maine gave a hard winter and my writing was frozen, cracking, shifting along at a glacial pace. At this very moment I can not recall exactly what broke the story open—Though, what inspires and moves us is usually more a sequence of meanderings than one choice turn. But, it seems we tend to remember just that last turn. Maybe it’s just easier to stop there in the moment than to absorb all of the distance behind it. Maybe the distance behind it can only be seen from the other side. Either way, nearly 8months later, here I am—flying through the final weeks before Half Life moves into production, working my way through to the other side.
Leaving Maine late on Monday, I drove through the night, arriving in Harlem at 3am.
Tuesday morning— it was time to hustle and I was ready. I hit the ground running, going from meeting to meeting, and everything felt to be coming into place. Wednesday rolls in and the state of the union looks something like this: A lead actor is getting scared and I gotta go talk him off a ledge. Our brilliant cinematographer was in a terrible biking accident fracturing her skull and shoulder. The bank mis-filed paperwork and temporarily froze the production’s accounts. I’m behind on sending around 100 emails and tornadoes just tore through our locations in Ohio leaving countless flooded streets, no power, and a derailed train. I feel the threads of my film unraveling— 14 days to fund. 24 days till shooting.
So. What to do?
I go see Cyndi Lauper.
I was standing outside the Beacon Theater on the phone with my dad… Checking-in on friends and family, making sure everyone was safe and whole in Ohio. He asks me how things are going with the film and I tell him… This concert is last place I want to be. There is too much to do. I’m just getting pissed off.
It’s the 30th anniversary of She’s So Unusual, so, this tour is supposed to be somewhat of a trip down memory lane. Walking out onto the stage, looking over the roaring crowd, the first thing Cyndi says—
"Get offaya phones, takin’ bad pitchas up my nose. Wuddyah gonna do? Look back on ‘em and say- Yeah, I kinda remember dat. I was there, right? BE. HERE. NOW…. ahkay…. 1-2-3. Hit it."
She played the whole record. Every song. In order. All the way through.
She brought me in and took me along on her journey. For me, getting to the space of ‘here, now’ was letting go of everything beyond my control, standing still, and paying attention to what was right in front of me—- An Artist. A Woman. Someone that fought the War for her Art and WON. She won and she is here to tell us about it. “It’s my responsibility,” she says.
I was brought out of my spinning panic into a moment of clarity by an artist’s reflection on her hard-won fight. Her mission to tell a story that she knew she had to tell— telling it the way she knew it had to be told. Her story is lived— sincere and true. It is a story she has to tell again. Why? Because she is still standing, she has a perspective to offer, and the time is always NOW.
Through all the moving pieces, I am brought back to what my story is all about. Back to what I have to do. So, let’s be real—-
Life is short. Clichéd but true. We really only have the time that we use. As artists, musicians, storytellers, filmmakers—- our work may live on, manifesting its own path into the spirit of another time, place, person— but, that kind of limitless creation can only happen if we, as the makers, live through our questions and continue toward that unmistakable feeling of truth in our gut. Battling through the questions may be the most difficult and terrifying experience, but, it is our responsibility to bring our truth out and do something with it. As we struggle and battle through it, remember— What exists on the other side of a hard fear holds more awe and life than we can ever imagine we’ll witness. So you have to fight.
Getting tripped up on the ‘how’ is inevitable. Spinning on the edge of doubt is part of the process. Keeping open to trust, working like hell, and standing with your story and your truth through it all— That is how you press on. That is how you fight the War and win.
14 days to fund. 24 till we shoot. The time is now.