It's Never, Ever too late...
Once there was a young boy, about ten years old. He had a wild and vivid imagination, with big dreams. He loved watching TV shows like Buck Rogers, cartoons like Starblazers, and movies like Flash Gordon. His imagination was filled with images of spaceships, other planets, and aliens. He loved to draw pictures of these things and would often play in his backyard as if he were a spaceman visiting a strange new planet.
Then one day, his grandmother took him to see a new movie that had just been released. It was called 'The Empire Strikes Back'. He'd seen nothing like it. In fact, it was like nothing anyone had ever seen before. The film took the world by storm and this young boys imagination to new heights.
The boy realized that he wanted nothing more than to create images and other worlds like he had just watched on the big screen. He wanted to channel all of his stories, and pour them out onto film. But how? He was only ten going on eleven and, had no idea how to pluck the visions out of his dreams, and bring them into the world.
Fortunately, for this young boy, he had a caring and loving mother who could see the light in his eyes and cherished his creative nature. She understood him better than anyone and knew that he was terribly shy with a fragile ego. He would need a lot of encouragement if he was to ever make this dream a reality. She proceeded to do just that. She, along with his grandmother, encouraged him to follow his dream in any way that they could. They purchased for him an 8mm movie camera and projector at a swap meet, along with enough film to make a full-length trilogy.
You see, during this time, before the internet and on-demand streaming, it was all the rage for filmmakers, such as George Lucas, to periodically run TV specials. Specials like "behind the scenes" and "the making of" hosted by stars like Mark Hamill or Carrie Fisher. The boy was engrossed in these shows. Fascinated by the green screen technology and even the minute details such as how blaster fire was superimposed on the film in post-production. His mother even took him to the bookstore where he was allowed to pick out a how-to book on "movie magic" and special effects.
When the boy was eleven, almost twelve, and after moving across the U.S. to a new town, he began to take all that he had learned from the TV shows and books and began working on his first movie.
The film was titled, "Dulgar's Revenge" and it was going to be a cross between Star Wars and Conan the Barbarian. Yes, laugh if you will but, the boy was convinced that this was going to be awesome. It would be the greatest film ever made - by a twelve-year-old.
With the help of his mother, he spent weeks and weeks writing the nearly fifty-page handwritten script. The characters were created, the plot was thought out and written in great detail, and his mother had even called in some favors from friends to acquire the necessary props. He had even decided on a filming location, his backyard, and enlisted the help of some friends at school to either star in the film or help with production. The boy had no interest in being in front of the camera.
The boy's mother worked for a company that supplied and repaired xerox machines to other business, so she had unlimited access to the latest in photocopy technology. She took his 50+ page script to work and made five copies for him.
The following day, the boy took the five copies of the script to school so that he could give a copy to each of his friends that desired to be a part of this project. As he was handing out what were his most prized possessions, the class bully quickly stood and snatched a copy from his hands. The boy stood in horror, trembling, as the bully proceeded to read aloud to the entire class, the contents of his creation. While laughing and mocking him, she laid bare his heart and soul to a classroom filled with disapproving and judgemental twelve-year-olds.
The room erupted with laughter and the boy shrank back into his seat. Had his teacher been present in the room at the time, this may not have happened. If his mother had been there, this certainly would not have happened. The few friends that he did have, tried to stand up for the boy and managed to retrieve the script from the bully's hands but, the damage was done. He was mortified and withdrew.
I wish I could say that he overcame this and moved on. I wish I could say that he made his film anyway. I wish I could say that he was strong enough to brush it off and chase his dream in spite of it all, but I can't. He allowed his fear to stand in between him and his dream.
As time went on, the boy moved on. He found other interests and pursued other things, but, he never returned to his passion for storytelling, not in any way. He first pursued a career in food service and was moderately successful. He enjoyed it because it allowed for some creativity. A way to express himself. Then years later, he married and had a son. Seeing that he would need a way to better provide for his family, he switched careers and turned to computers.
For those of you who know me have most certainly figured out by now that the boy in the story is me. Oh, and in case you were wondering, this story is very real and very true.
The boy is a grown man now and I’ve been working as a software engineer for over two decades. Developing software does provide me with a small outlet for creativity, but not to the extent that I desired all of those years ago. When I reflect on those days, there are two things that I miss the most. First is the love of my mother, whom I lost just over a year ago. The second is the rush of writing that script. The joy I got from pouring the pictures of my imagination out on paper was indescribable. Reminiscing about those days and the encouragement that my mother had given me then, and the encouragement that my wife gives me now has inspired me to pursue my dream once again.
This time, it's in the form of writing, not filmmaking but nonetheless, it's storytelling by another means. This time, I will not allow fear to stand in my way. I will not allow the bullies of this world, who come in all ages, stop me from being me.
If there is only one lesson that I can teach my children, it would be ...
It's Never, Ever too late to chase your dreams.
Karl M. Dreyer Jr.