4:19 PM

Lessons from Panic: The Honor's Project Edition

It’s true that I didn’t do a science project, like I thought I would be over four years ago, when I was still believing that I would go into pharmacy school after university. But I was part of that statistic that changed their major and went a completely different way, and now am presenting at the honor’s conference with what some would say is an art project instead. This art project, however, has been close to my heart for quite awhile, longer than the year it has taken to complete! I first heard the story of the individual who would inspire this project over four years ago, and it touched me even then. How to express it though? That’s where screenwriting came in.

In my last screenwriting class, taken in Hollywood -one of the more negatively viewed cities to the Christian world – I learned the craft of telling a story visually. We are visual people, after all. That is why the symbol of the cross encouraged Constantine to engage the battle that won him an empire, why the Eagle was displayed prominently on the Prussian flag, and why Walt Disney’s name is still associated with those simple round, black ears. People go to the movies these days and are impacted by the story, but perhaps more importantly, the visuals. Scenes from art become iconic – God reaching out to Adam for example! And movies are no difference. Learning to write in a way that will impact people takes time, some training, practice, and discipline. And I had to learn this by immersion. I threw myself into the daunting task of writing a full-length screenplay, and pushed through the despair, perfectionism, and joy to come out with knowledge of why writers exist: to inspire.

My journey has been one of a writer who has realized the power of strong images. I’ve learned how to piece together a story that makes sense in my head, and express it to others. I’ve learned how to take a story and make it clear to other people. But as I’ve learned all of these things, and so much more, I’ve learned that my job as a writer is to inspire. I honestly believe, after spending time in Hollywood, that stories inspire many of the people there because they yearn for a graced and good world. The lost want to be found; they want to have a reason to get up in the morning. And that’s why writing exists: it inspires people to face the ugly, and see the glimmer of hope. Just as Buechner sees the Gospel as tragedy, comedy, and fairytale, so can life be seen through the same lens. Movies allow us to literally SEE the dark, the funny, and most important of all, the ideal. Without people there to put the fairytale ending into stories, however, we may be left with just the dark, or just the funny, but with no hope or joy or lasting vision.

The discipline I have explored in the past year has let me practice putting my own ideal, my own fairytale into a story that would otherwise be just another war story. The story is sad, it is bittersweet, but it explores an idea that most of do not fully grasp, or are able to perfectly practice: forgiveness. My script has allowed me to examine the dark side of life, the tragedy of the bad choices we make; it has allowed me to laugh at the realization that despite the gloom, there is happiness out there that can be spread; and it has let me show that fairytales can indeed become reality, if we only accept the tragedy and comedy in life. Forgiveness is not a fairytale, as many of faith will tell you. But it often seems like it in the life and the cinema we see. We all need to be reminded that forgiveness, and mercy, and grace are not just things that happen to characters in book – they are part of a graced and good world, the ideal. Fairytales can happen to us, if we only continue to be reminded that they are, in fact, real.

I only hope that I can express the optimism of the ideal into others, through the visuals and words I write.


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