As a guest to a film festival “pitch” session, I was ready to be entertained. Instead, the room got quiet. None of the participants wanted to follow those poor brave souls, whose pitches had gotten shot down by the cynical agents and producers. “Any volunteers?” the leader asked. To my own surprise, I raised my hand. My teenage daughter looked at me like I had farted. Loudly. What the heck, I thought. I’m turning 50, and I have nothing to lose, just an idea that had batted around in my head for the last year.
I pitched a story about an empty-nester mom, trying to fill up her days with something that could, not only replace PTA meetings and teen explosions, but also slow the ticking of a clock turning 50. Who wouldn’t want to reinvent herself? In my story, the mom secretly starts taking pole-dancing lessons with the "innocent" idea of performing for her 50th birthday. Without knowing the rules of the game, I pitched my heart out in three heart-pounding minutes. My idea captured the panel’s hearts. Many asked if they could read my screenplay. Ha, I thought, what screenplay? Enthusiastically, I came home and started writing this story. As a landscape architect for the last 30 years, I figured screenplays might be a bit different than the gardens I design. After 30 pages, my hunch was confirmed. I enrolled in ‘Intro to Screenwriting’ at UCLA.
Three years later, I write full time and am finishing up my third screenplay. I passionately love what I do. And yes, I confess, I’m the real life 50-year-old, pole-dancing, empty-nester mom — much to the horror of my kids. Could I have dreamed of a reinvention like this? Golly no, but it’s so cool!
NEXT IN THE REINVENTION STORY CONTEST: RUNNING OUT OF TIME