We took the kids to a film festival in south Calgary yesterday, where they turned the lobby of the theatre into a working film set and encouraged children of all ages to fill key positions to shoot scenes. Ava chose acting, which didn't surprise me in the slightest (the apple doesn't fall far from the tree), and went to makeup as Puss In Boots and then shot a short scene with a boy made up and costumed as Shrek. William was supposed to be Donkey, but at the last minute buried his face and refused to walk on the set, which also didn't surprise me.
Ava rehearsed her dialogue while they had other kids work the camera, the dolly, and the boom mike, and set up a director and a producer at the monitors. She didn't appear at all nervous, and when the director called "action!" in the cutest little voice, I got goosebumps watching her perform. There is something about seeing your dreams reflected in the eyes of your child which brings inspiration on an entirely new level.
I dreamed of making movies and performing in movies since the time I was Ava's age, but the opportunity and the encouragement was in short supply. My family and friends told me that working in the movies wasn't a real job, and as I didn't live in Los Angeles, I should forget it. I never did forget it, but it became a flame which burned at a low level as I grew into adulthood.
Working on a feature set at Tri-Star Pictures in 1993 was the realization of all of my filmmaking dreams, but when it came time to fill out my paperwork and get paid, it became tricky with my Canadian citizenship and US student visa but no work permit. I was asked by several department heads to come with them on their next films, as I threw myself into my office assistant job with an enthusiasm that knew no limits at all. I was as happy as any person has ever been, but I couldn't continue without a valid work permit.
I moved to Vancouver after that, where the film industry was in its infancy, but stronger than anything happening in Alberta at that time. I starved for six months looking for work, knocking on every door, doing the same things I did to get work in LA, but the doors just didn't open for me. Eventually I temped in a forestry office, and then my car died and I needed a new one, and I took a full-time position to be able to afford it. The rest is history.
I look back on those six days on the lot in Culver City, California as one of the best times of my life, but I know I want to write my way back in this time, and not work as a PA for eighteen hour workdays anymore. Those days are behind me now, and I'm finally satisfied with that. But to see a light go on in my daughter's eyes yesterday brought it all back to me in force, not with longing but with a deep sense of joy. What goes around comes around, and I can encourage her to the skies to pursue her dreams with reckless abandon, and offer all of the support she could ever want or need. My kids can do anything they want. There is no "approved" occupational list for them. I want them to dream, and to build foundations under those dreams.
Anything is possible at any time for any of us, but there are seasons for everything, and reasons for why certain things come to us at specific times, and why certain things pass us by. I used to ride such an emotional roller coaster when it came to my dreams, but now I'm settled into myself in a way I couldn't conceive of before, and I look back at the winding, twisty road which got me from childhood to here, and I love where I'm at and who I am, and wouldn't change anything even if it were possible to.