A ‘Lot’ Of Hope (An Exposition On New Friends & What Art Can Do For Communities)

The evening of January 31st of this year was my 7th or so time on set.  The second for a movie and same number for a Netflix production. Minor talent as I like to call myself so I can differentiate myself from a tree, car or grass-which are also background set pieces in productions; like us parked, sighed and settled in for a long evening of waiting……waiting…..waiting and shooting. As with any production lot there is a holding area for actors.  Usually, its a tent or a trailer.  I walked in and felt it would be like any mundane experience all of the other times.  Sure, I met some friends from then who laughed at each other’s stories about overdosing on marijuana or humiliating ourselves during a scene.   Yet, who I met this time was far more consequential…………to who I hope to become!

Gia was a 24 Latina, who has the beauty you’d assume would place her as a contestant on The Batchelor. Oddly enough, it was her first time onset.  Her story gets even more remarkable. She drove all the way from Chicago just to be in the production, using vacation days.  This being since Georgia is somewhat closer and more affordable than Los Angeles. Her warm smile and friendly demeanor hid the most important feature to her existence……………….that being, she was in remission from a brain tumor!

Then there was Peyton.  Another midwesterner from Wisconsin, who I assumed had moved south obtaining permanent Georgia residence status.  He to lived on the road still officially being a resident of Wiscosin, not wanting to do the hopeless and money taxing grind of California, some days sleeping in his car and others finding friends onset. With 20 something surfer looks he had in fact been a stand in actor for a teen aged themed surfing show shot in coastal North Carolina called the The Outer Banks.  I was captivated on the way to dinner about his story concerning filming in mid January in 50 degree water without a wetsuit in the Atlantic Ocean because the script called for it.  He talked about being on the border of almost getting an agent and moving into minor speaking roles.  We canonized our days onset with Cobra Kai through a common casting agency I once used, but during different seasons. We became instant friends and I promised him a discount as an Air BNB rental if he ever came my way.

I just heard from Cat that next morning!  Catherine is a new graduate of the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business. My most recent memory of her was watching her cancel her morning flight to Phoenix just as we wrapped about 11:00 p.m.  No big news about Cat!  It was just that she was on her way west to sell an ‘indy’ script to some potential investors with a hedge fund! With all of this she took the time to check in with me and tell me how much she appreciated meeting me.

In December I witnessed the power of how my local theatre had brought so many different political perspectives together who had no business cooperating with each other much less becoming friends through our production of A Christmas Carol with the Theatre of Gadsden. I sat alone by candle light to contemplate that experience once it was done, one day after the fact, on the first shrill Monday in December. In the early hours of February1st, were no candles, just the hollow hum of tires along the desolate rural Georgia backcountry to spark my marvel about what just took place.

Alabama needs art now more than ever.  It’s funding is the elixir toward healing. Tragically, the insecure and foolish try to take it out of the hands of society through culture war resolve, in some pockets of living. Not, knowing some of their acolytes favor it by accident, those with whom I’ve actually been in productions onstage. Those acolytes must not know the ‘mesmorizing’ they are unconsciously experiencing. I saw all walks of life bound to have all perceptions of politics through both on stage and on set.  I never saw conflict either time. And such a revelation was discovered on a ‘rat-a-tat-tat’ community stage in Gadsden, Alabama and a parking lot on a set in Fayetteville, Georgia.  A ‘lot’ of hope, I’ll remember it as.


Scroll to Top