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Scott Lax Blog

Actors, Show Business, and the Art of Story

I recently sent out an e-mail blast announcing two new workshops I'm teaching at The Chagrin Valley Writers' Workshop, which I founded in January of this year.

I've gotten some nice e-mails from old friends, including some show business pals from L.A. From 1998 until 2002, I did a five year stint as a movie producer, and, while producing isn't in my blood the way writing is now (and drumming was before), that experience - producing "The Year That Trembled," which was based on my novel of the same name - was an amazing experience.

One of the things I learned was how many talented and unique people are in the film business. Usually, on some level, movie people have a basic element in common with novelists and nonfiction writers: they want to tell stories. That's what drives them, whether they're behind the scenes, in editing, in producing, in post-production, in lighting, in sound, in operating a camera, in directing, and, of course in acting and writing.

Most of us watch TV and movies and enjoy them immensely. My fiance and I do. And every now and then I'll yell out that there's this person or that person who worked or acted in "The Year That Trembled," and I'll remember something about a particular moment in the creation of the film. I'll think of shooting a scene at 3 AM when it was so cold that everyone was in parkas except the actors, who were in shirt sleeves and never complained, because it was supposed to be a warm summer night. Or an indoor scene when it was over 100 degrees upstairs in a house where we were filming, and we were about passed out in "video village," and the actors and crew just hung in there and kept working.

Count me as a writer who respects actors, directors and other story tellers. To act believably, to pull off an effective scene, whether it's on film on video or the stage -- that's an art and a skill that is often lost in the reams of paper and billions of electrons devoted to things superfluous to the art: whose dating who; who's acting out in Cannes or Hollywood. That stuff comprises about .001 percent of the show business world. The other 99 plus percent is hard work indeed.

To all of you who tell stories -- by writing, by acting, or behind the scenes -- thank you for your continued inspiration to those of us typing away and trying to create more stories that you may someday bring to life. Read More