What I Learned from Jason Bourne

…How to kick butt and look good doing it, obviously. But that’s not what I’m going to discuss today.

Readers of this blog already know I was an unpaid extra in Jason Bourne. I was fortunate enough to go to the Aria casino two days in February and witness the making of a big scene in the movie. Note: There will be NO SPOILERS here. Just generalizations.

The scene was the EXO-Con convention scene. In this particular scene a *thing* happened and chaos ensued. The first day that I filmed, there were about 300 extras in attendance. We were ushered into the room and filled in the seats at the front. We sat around a lot and then took our directions. (Those born in January, stand up when so-and-so is announced. Those born in Feb, boo when so-and-so is announced.) Then we played our parts as several actors—one of which was Oscar-winning Alicia Vikander—were introduced by the announcer at the Con. We cheered at the appropriate times, acted shocked at an announcement made, then we ran our little booties off after the *thing.*

And we did it over and over and over and over.

The director, Paul Greengrass, moved us all over that room. Some of us moved to the back, some slid over to the right, some stood up, some came in from the side as the scene was called.  He moved the cameras around just as much as he did the people. Each take was a different angle or different action by the crowd. It was fascinating to see how many different things he was doing with the same set of people and same set of words. We probably did the same scene upwards of twenty times on the first day. But that was just the first day. He did the same thing for the same scene for the entire week.

The second day I went to the set, Matt Damon was introduced into the scene. Because you can’t have a Bourne movie without Bourne, right? (We don’t talk about that “other” Bourne movie, okay?) I’ve already fangirl gushed over how awesome Matt Damon is, so I won’t do that again. But it’s important to note this was the same scene, only a few seconds after the *thing* occurs. On this day of filming there were 1200 extras in the building. Matt made the comment that it was the largest group of extras he’d ever worked with. So that’s a lot of moving parts and fangirly people hanging on his every word! But the filming was exactly the same as it had been. Only this time we got to watch Jason Bourne run around. Literally. And because he’s Matt Damon, the focus was completely on him the entire day. The scene stayed the same but he was the star. Just as you’d expect.

When I saw the movie, my friends and I scoured the scene, looking for my face. Sadly, we didn’t see me. (Though there will be a frame-by-frame investigation when the DVD is released!) What struck me as crazy was that very little of what he filmed that week actually made it into the film. Case in point: At the con, one of the actors gave a heart-felt speech in which he told the story of how he came to the conclusion to do this *bad thing* and why he did it and he ended up asking forgiveness in the end. It was probably a good 3-4 minutes long. On screen it was maybe 20 seconds.  The meat of his confession was left on the cutting room floor. But that didn’t matter because the viewer got what was going on with just that 20 seconds on the film. The extra 3 ½ minutes wasn’t necessary to understand this was a remorseful guy trying to make amends.

As I recalled all the fun (and exhaustion) from those days filming, I began to see where I could draw parallels from my experience as an extra and apply them to my writing.

CHANGE YOUR CAMERA ANGLES: Don’t be afraid to experiment with your scenes. Look at them from different angles. Would the plot be better served if someone else was speaking? Would the scene have more tension if it were outdoors while raining instead of on a comfy sofa? Would the character react one way externally and another internally? Move things around. Change things up. Look at your scenes through a close-up lens, then zoom out to wide angles to vary them.

USE YOUR STAR: I tend to love my supporting folks a lot—they’re the ones that typically share news the protagonist needs, or they argue with the MC, or simply add the comic flavor to a manuscript.  All that is fine, but don’t forget who your star is. Your protagonist’s reactions should be driving the plot. I mean, Jason Bourne needs to be taking out people with nothing but a bendy straw, not his best friend. (Well, if he had a best friend.)

EDITING IS CRUCIAL: That backstory about your MC scarred childhood when he stepped on a frog and is now terrified of frogs isn’t necessary. That is, unless he comes face-to-face with a hideous slimy frog. (Which is the worst thing I can imagine.) As writers, we bring our characters to life. And we often cannot do that unless we KNOW these characters. It’s fine for them to have a backstory, just keep mentions of it brief. If’ you can say it in twenty words as opposed to 350, then say it in twenty words. It makes things tighter and the reader will be less likely to wander away. Spend time really cutting out what isn’t competently necessary to drive the plot. Case in point: That car chase scene down the Las Vegas Strip? Paul Greengrass did not share why Jason Bourne took the particular car he did and the story of the guy he “borrowed” it from.What we say was Jason Bourne getting in the car and speeding away like a boss. That’s all we needed.

 

Keep writing and kicking butt like Jason Bourne!

Pimpin’ My Bio for #PitchWars

Hey there! Though this isn’t Tuesday, I’m blogging for a specific reason today. Welcome to the #PitchWars bio of Michelle Collins, YA writer, voracious reader, occasional blogger, and fulltime fangirl of many things. To learn more about me, follow me down the rabbit hole yellow brick road cobblestone path strewn with boyband t-shirts, gerbera daisies, and zombies.

Follow Me Four

I’m a married mom of two kids who are older than I care to mention. We recently moved back home to Arkansas after a year of living in Vegas, where I got to do a lot of cool things. These things definitely do NOT stay in Vegas.

I met my favorite author, Jennifer Armentrout (and her hunka-hunka cover model and all-around delightful human being, Drew Leighty.)

Jen and Drew

I was an extra in a movie with my favorite actor, Matt Damon. MATT. FREAKIN’ DAMON. And I have to say, he definitely earned his reputation for being the nicest guy in Hollywood. He was super. (Look for me in the convention scene!)

Bourne movie

And I also got to finally meet one of my favorite bands, O-Town. Yes, O-Town from MTV’s Making the Band. (Nope. I do not consider my love of these guys as a guilty pleasure. Not even a little bit.) They’re the hardest working, most down-to-earth and appreciative band I’ve ever met. Go see them, if only for nostalgia’s sake. They do not disappoint. Townie for life!

Me and my boys

KMore about me: I’m a card carrying Sci-Fi geek (my complete collection of Empire Strikes Back collector cards qualify me). Some of my favorite fandoms are: Doctor Who, Firefly, Game of Thrones, Buffy & all things Whedon, Star Trek, The Walking Dead, Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Marvel Universe, X-Files, & The 100. Here’s where I come down on the important issues: Ten over Eleven (and light years beyond Twelve); Picard over Kirk; Spike over Angel; The Order of the Phoneix book, The Deathly Hallows movie;  and Bellarke forever.

My zombie apocalypse team would consist of Daryl Dixon, Jon Snow, and Spike from BtVS.  Yes, they will brood the zombies to death and finish them off with their hotness.

My favorite authors are Jennifer Armentrout, Veronica Rossi, Stephen King, Marie Lu, Madeleine L’Engle, and who doesn’t love JK Rowling? A favorite books list would include A Wrinkle in Time, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Divergent, The Lux Series, Brave New World, & To Kill a Mockingbird. I also adore the Shadow and Bone series, which I use as a comp for my #PitchWars entry.

I’m entering VALLEY OF MIST AND MEMORY this year. It’s a YA historical fantasy based on ancient Mayan culture that was inspired by a dream and an episode of Ancient Aliens. The manuscript is a magical retelling of the Mayan creation myth told in two POV’s—a girl from the valley who believes the Four Elements guide her and a prince from the mountain who’s directed by the stars. They must overcome their differences and team up to find the “somewhat disputed” thirteenth crystal skull before it falls into the wrong hands, specifically the prince’s crow of a brother, who’s determined to gain the skull’s power and destroy the valley.

Oh, and there’s kissing in it.

Hot kissing. We’re talking literal fire here.

(Because it is completely impossible for me to write anything that doesn’t have a lot of kissing in it.)

My Pinterest board for this manuscript is here.

For the pimp portion of your evening, allow me to sell myself to my potential mentors.

smooth move baby

Though I’ve been a writer since I could form coherent thoughts, I’ve been formally attempting this publication thing for about four years now. I’m an active member of SCBWI and have an awesome group of crit partners who dig this story! (That’s got to count for something, right?) I’ve done contests and have come close, but haven’t found the right agent yet. I’m hoping this MS is THE one. I have not queried this MS yet, so it’s shiny and fresh for everyone to see. (Or it will be!)

Personally I’m a quick writer, hard worker, and will give it my all (…Or nothing at all.  O-Town.) Though I’m a sensitive soul, I’ve always understood that honest critique is the best way to improve and I Want it That Way. (Backstreet Boys) I’m fully ready to receive any comments/suggestions/criticisms/gifs. My mentor can expect me to respond to these things with a good attitude/honest questions/my best effort/and possibly boyband lyrics.

And this has been my life and times. The truth is out there. So long and thanks for all the fish.

so long dolphin

WRITERS with polished manuscripts: You can find more information about Pitch Wars on the amazing Brenda Drake’s website. Check out potential mentors and get your pitches ready by August 3!

Chasing After Motivation

Recently I was struck with a great motivational quote from what some would say is an odd source–a tweet made by a member of O-Town.

You remember O-Town, right? MTV’s Making the Band reality show where attractive and talented young men lined up to audition for their chance at stardom…back in the good ole days of Boy Band Supremacy.

(Are you singing “All or Nothing At All” right now? You should be.)

Yes, O-Town is still making music and touring. And yes, I have a ticket to see them in Vegas. YES, I am insanely excited about that. But this isn’t a post in which wax poetic about how amazing this particular boy band is. Maybe I’ll do that another time.

This is a post about motivation.

Last Wednesday O-Town member Jacob Underwood so aptly tweeted the following:

If you wait and want, you’ll spend a lifetime waiting and wanting. GO GET!!!

It really struck me because he’s right.

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a child. It was one of those unattainable dreams that I answered when adults would ask me “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I never really thought I would actually do it.

Fast forward to adulthood: (I promise I am an adult) After having tried this writing thing seriously almost four years and not finding that big break yet, I can get a little discouraged. I have writer friends that are securing agents and getting book deals, indie publishing and I am thrilled for them. But sometimes it becomes difficult to not land in the “But why not meeeee?” zone. When I get there, it’s hard for me to pull out the WIP and make myself make it better.

But that’s what I have to do if I’m going to succeed.

Just this morning I emailed my crit partner whining about needing to finish line edits on this manuscript, and rewrite my pitch for another. I didn’t want to do either of those things. It was too daunting to think about it. To me, the fun part is the first draft where the words and images come easy. The rewrites are challenging. But the rewrites are where the magic happens.

So I ignored my huge pile of new books that I got at the RT Booklover’s convention and focused on Jacob’s tweet that’s been post-it noted in between my “We Bought a Zoo*” inspirational quote and “JSS**” reminder. I turned up the music (O-Town’s Chasing After You, specifically. I defy you not to love that song.) and I set about GOING and GETTING.

I’m pleased to say that I got a lot done and I’m even closer to my goals.

If you’re a writer that’s struggling with motivation, I challenge you to find your own boy band. Or heavy metal band. Or classical orchestra. Whatever you’re into. And if music doesn’t work, use magazine photos or poems or inspirational quotes with cat pictures. Whatever you find, grab onto it and don’t let go. Keep writing through the hard stuff, keep querying, smile through rejections and write some more. Don’t sit back and wait for something great to happen to you. Like Jacob says, GO GET!

 

*From WE BOUGHT A ZOO. (Imagine Matt Damon saying this): Sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty second of just embarrassing bravery and I promise you, something great will come of it. 

**Just Survive Somehow from THE WALKING DEAD

 

 

Water Day

Today I’m celebrating World Water Day. I’m taking a moment to be grateful for all the good things water gives us.

I wrote about the water crisis last week, so I won’t start spewing facts and statistics at you again. They’re available on water.org if you’re interested. I recommend taking a look as soon as you can. Check out the introduction video on the site. I hope it’ll open your eyes like it did mine.

I’ve been aware of water.org for a few years now but only recently after doing some research for a couple of novel ideas that I have, did I come to fully understand what the organization does and how it impacts communities across the globe. They’re doing good work to provide lasting solutions to the water crisis.

Personally, I’ve found myself very grateful for my toilet. Seriously. It’s not something we talk about in civilized conversations, but maybe it should be. Because I have a clean toilet I can use any time I want. (And I use it a lot because I pretty much mainline Diet Coke.) But what if I didn’t have a white porcelain throne and instead had to squat in the mud where seventeen other people have squatted today? Suddenly a new role of Charmin seems more precious than gold.

Millions of people are dealing with this every single day. And it breaks my heart. And that’s why I support water.org and celebrate World Water Day. Because how can I turn a blind eye to something so fundamentally important to every living soul on the planet?

Visit WaterDay.org to celebrate Water Day with me. You can create your own photo to share what water gives you. I’d like to share a couple with you- mine and Matt Damon’s.

 

And because I like to put feet to my words, I’ll share something I was inspired to write after seeing a water.org photo on Instagram. It’s not easy for me to share this because it’s not a complete scene or story, or even fully edited, but it’s what came to me.  I hope it inspires you to do something. Share. Donate. Celebrate. Think. Give thanks. Act.

 

Six hours. Six hours isn’t bad as long as she begins in the morning just as the dew is starting to form in the fields. Six hours over dusty, rock-laden paths beat down by the footfalls of a thousand other women who came before her.

Six hours. Three each way.

Every day.

Without ceasing.

A yellow plastic jug trails behind Darsha, leaving a chalky mist in its wake as she trudged from the outskirts of the slum she calls home toward the place where she will gather today’s water.

As the sun peeks over the horizon creating a hazy golden glow on the fields, Darsha temporarily forgets where she is and what she’s doing. For a brief moment, she rests on the shore of some nameless crystal lake with her toes dug into the mud and the cool water trickling over her shins. But as the odor of the men squatting in the field beyond her assault her nose, she remembers and picks up her feet.

Six hours for her family.

Six hours for life.

Only six hours.

The day has twenty-four. 

 

The Tides of March

When I first hopped onto the internet today, I was met with several “Beware the Ides of March” posts and references. And that was great because it’s absolutely the first thing I thought this morning when I saw the date. Who doesn’t love a good Shakespeare reference? In fact, I was going to blog something about the Ides of March today, but I changed my mind after I saw this video.

Hey there, Matt Damon, most talented and brilliant actor in the world, whatcha talking about?

Please allow me to explain.

In September 2015 the UN General Assembly set 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) meant to further the gains made worldwide in stamping out poverty and injustice. You can see the complete list HERE.

It includes things like eliminating poverty, ending hunger, quality education for all, renewable energy, sustainable cities and communities, good health, and economic growth. All lofty and worthy goals that we NEED to support.

As I was looking over the list of SDGs something struck me. Most of the goals on the list are not really obtainable without first conquering SDG #6 – Clean water and sanitation.

With a background in education, I’m invested in seeing quality education for all. But how can we teach children if they aren’t in school because they have to travel miles every day just to reach a clean source of water? Moreover, how can we end hunger when there’s no water to grow sustainable crops? Or how can we keep everyone healthy when entire communities live in fear of the bacteria invading their water supply?

We can’t.

If you’ve ever taken a Gen Psych or Sociology course, you’ll remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs. (Are you picturing a triangle? You should be picturing a triangle right now.) Maslow stated that people are inherently motivated to achieve certain needs. At the very base of the triangle lies BIOLOGICAL and PHYSIOLOGICAL need. It includes air, food, water, shelter, warmth, sleep. If those needs are not being met, there’s no way anyone is moving up the triangle where you find safety, love, esteem and self-actualization.

Did you catch it? Access to clean water and proper sanitation is a basic human need. According to water.org 1 in 10 people lack access to clean water. And 1 in 3 lack access to sanitary toilets.

I’m not okay with those numbers.

I know I’m starting to sound “crusadey” with this. (And I’m okay with that, by the way. I will never apologize for who I am and what I think.) But I’ve been researching the water crisis and specifically water.org for months now and it’s given me a new perspective that I want to share with as many people as I can. While I don’t have the fans that Matt Damon has to bring awareness to this cause, I do have voice. And I’m using it.

Think of it as trying to change the tide on the water crisis. (See what I did there? Tides of March. *nods*)

If you’re interested in more info, check out water.org

And join me in celebrating Water Day next Tuesday. Water Day

And you can help for FREE by donating a photo here. Johnson&Johnson DonateAPhoto

 

YOU KNOW HIS NAME

No less than 14 people texted, emailed, messaged, called or Facebooked me on Sunday regarding my reaction to the trailer for the new Bourne movie. Since I’m currently simmering my WIP and have no new writing things to share today, I thought I’d use today’s blog to become a movie critic.

Er, movie trailer critic

I tuned into the Super Bowl to wait for this trailer. No, I am not ashamed of that. I was in the movie. I think that makes it okay. I had done enough research to know that Universal only bought 60 seconds of air time, so as soon as I saw the Universal logo pop up on the screen, I knew this was it. I literally jumped up off the chair and screamed. (My poor long suffering husband. I love him a lot for putting up with my enthusiasm.)

I can’t imagine what I’m going to be like when I’m sitting in the theatre waiting for the movie to start on July 29. I’d apologize to my friends who’ll be with me, but I don’t have to. They’re used to me and love me anyway.

For the record, the scene which I was an extra in, is not in the trailer.

Check out the Jason Bourne trailer for yourself HERE.

Here are my thoughts from beginning to end, as I saw it the first time–breaking it down, frame by frame, if you will.

  • Opening chord: Ominous and dark. Just like Jason Bourne. I like it. It sets the mood perfectly. And it makes my heart race because it just feels like something big is about to go down.
  • Bam, Bam, Bam: Massive dude goes down in the three strikes! I stinking love the beats of the music matching Bourne’s punches. Wait. Is Matt Damon not wearing a shirt? I’m going to have to investigate that upon second review. (2nd review: Nope, he wasn’t wearing a shirt.)
  • YOU KNOW: I love the font. Yes, it’s weird to have a powerful opinion on a font, but I do. It’s my favorite kind of font—strong and graphic. I even like the regular/bold aspect of it. At this point in the trailer, I started holding my breath. I was thinking, “What do I know? What? What do I know?”
  • HIS NAME: Yes, I do, movie trailer. I know his name. As far as taglines go, I think this one is fantastic. It reads as almost a mic drop before the movie. YOU KNOW HIS NAME.  (The purist in me would like to remind everyone that we learned his name is actually David Webb in The Bourne Supremacy. But he’s not David Webb anymore now, is he?)
  • And the intense drumbeats build up to “My God, that’s Jason Bourne.” I made a sound that was somewhere between a squeak and sigh because I couldn’t do anything else. I was out of breath! I loved the delivery of this line. He may have just as well said, “Well, crap. We’re in trouble now and e’rybody gone die.”
  • Matt Damon’s face inside a cool graphic. What I enjoy about that is that it hints at the technological thread of this movie. I’m okay to confirm that since Matt Damon has said in interviews that technology and privacy in the “Post Snowden Era” are featured in this film. Which certainly matches up to what I saw on set.
  • Oh hey, Tommy Lee Jones. You look like the requisite embittered CIA official that (incorrectly) thinks he can match wits with Jason Bourne. Oh well, it was nice knowing you.
  • Jason Bourne gets physical with a chair: My prediction is that he wipes the guy out with only one leg of the chair. He just really doesn’t need the whole thing.
  • “I know who I am. I remember everything.” Just check out the intensity of those eyes. Jason Bourne simply has nothing left to lose. Everybody needs to run and hide. Oh Matt Damon, how I adore your delivery of these lines. You really are an Oscar-worthy actor.
  • “Remembering everything doesn’t mean you know everything.” That’s Julia Stiles’ voice! I’m excited that she made it into this one. I think she’s going to be key in this film. It was hinted that they had a “connection” and past in Supremacy and Ultimatum due to her role in Treadstone. I hope they have several scenes together.
  • Nighttime car chase down the Las Vegas Strip thankyouverymuch: I was there literally minutes after they finished filming that scene. That’s where it first hit me that I was actually doing something pretty monumental by just showing up to be in this movie.
  • “The world is at war. We need the perfect weapon.” I feel like these lines are the pivotal call to action for Bourne. Matt Damon has said that the movie will pick up in real time and we’ll find out what Bourne has been doing since 2007 and the end of Ultimatum. I suspect that something or someone will make David Webb put the Bourne persona back on. (And whomever that is, I’d like to shake your hand.)
  • And Bourne’s in the desert (I hope he’s wearing sunscreen. Wouldn’t want his exceptionally ripped abs to get sunburned.) This time…this time y’all, it only takes one punch to bring a fella down. Proving that in the time between 2007 and 2016 Jason Bourne (consequently Matt Damon) has indeed, been working out.
  • Close up on Bourne. Oh, he is not happy. And the thing about that shot is the intensity of it. Shudder. Now, normally I am not a fan of lens flares. (Looking at you JJ Abrams). I tend to find them distracting. But look at that end shot. He can’t even help it. When Matt Damon is not smiling, that smile is somewhere deep inside him longing to come out. The result is a beautiful rainbow. I am so thankful that the lens flare made it in the trailer. I already wanted to hug you, Paul Greengrass. Now I want to hug you and give you cookies.
  • Title card: JASON BOURNE: There’s a lot of opposition on the internet about the title. People don’t like that it fails to follow the formula. But I love it. I think it’s powerful. And as I said above, I think he’s going to choose to be Jason Bourne instead of running from it. And that’s a new development. Matt has said this film will be the conclusion of the first three. Well, I’ll let him say it for himself instead of paraphrasing. This is from EW.

 This is the completion of this journey that started in the Bourne Identity. It’s part of the first three [movies], it’s not a whole new chapter. It feels like the conclusion, even though we’re not saying it’s the conclusion, it feels like the conclusion of my identity journey. It goes deeper than Ultimatum, basically

(Note: when I read that, my little fangirl heart pitter-pattered at the possibility of more Jason Bourne movies in future. Gold stars for effort to Jeremy Renner for The Bourne Legacy, but Jason Bourne is just in a class by himself. And so is Matt Damon. If the story is good and Paul Greengrass agrees to direct another Bourne, I, along with millions of others, will show up for it. Like, I am totally fine with The Bourne Declination, where Jason Bourne spends his golden years in an retirement  home chasing pudding-stealing curmudgeons on his walker, then taking them out with a bedpan.)

jason-bourne-poster

Maybe you’ll see me on July 29. But even if I don’t make the final cut of the film, I’m grateful that I got to do something amazing and witness a couple of the most talented filmmakers around and had a blast doing it.

Not Just Another Tuesday. AKA That Time I Was In A Movie With Matt Damon

I pride myself on using clever titles, but try as I might, I couldn’t think of anything that fit the epic scope of what I did last Tuesday other than to simply say it like it is.

Last week, I crossed something off of my bucket list. I was a movie extra. And not only was I movie extra, but I was a movie extra in what will probably be one of the biggest movies of this year. And I was a movie extra in a movie starring my absolute favorite, most talented and well-deserving-of-any-kind-of-accolades-you-can-give-him actor of this generation, Matt Damon.

It’s been a few days now and I’m still grinning, well as wide as Matt himself.

MD smile

(NOT MY PHOTO. Sadly. Credit: Giphy)

I can’t publicly post where I was, what I was doing, or anything having to do with the movie. And I wouldn’t. That’s not solely because of the nondisclosure agreement I signed, but also because of the respect I have for Matt, Paul Greengrass, and the production itself. I’ll be able to share a few details after the movie premieres, but until that happens, I can tell you what it was like for me to be enclosed in the same space as one of the biggest most recognizable movie stars on this planet. (And you know, Mars.)

To begin with, I did not meet Matt, speak to Matt, take photos of Matt or otherwise engage personally with Matt. Nor did I meet any principal actors or production crew involved with the movie. What I did do is get to see them work for two days. And I think that’s the greatest Blessing from this whole experience.

There were a lot of extras to deal with in this particular scene. And not once did I see any person from the Director down to the poor PA who was tasked with getting us water dismiss us or treat us with anything but respect. In fact, Paul Greengrass and his Asst Directors went out of their way to explain what shots were being filmed, pump us up for the scene and regale us with stories while the cameras were being repositioned. I can’t say what it’s like on other movie sets, but I’d bet all the money it’s taken to rescue Matt Damon in movies that it isn’t like that on every movie set. To Director Paul Greengrass, every single person in the room was just as vital to the movie as Matt Damon. And that says so much. I felt it every time he spoke to us and the crew.

And then there’s Matt. Anyone who knows me knows I have had straight up genuine respect for Matt since Good Will Hunting. (I even blogged about Matt. More than once.) Last week it was very rewarding to be able to look at the guy and KNOW that every ounce of respect, every award, everything he’s ever been given is absolutely deserved. He’s got the reputation of being the nicest, hardest working guy in Hollywood because he is the nicest, hardest working guy in Hollywood.

Again, I want to stress I had no personal interaction with him, but I was there when he walked on set and told a room full of people how absolutely important we were for this scene. And how he’d been there as long as we had (HOURS) and that he couldn’t express how much he appreciated our work and our attitude and our respect. At that moment, he went from being one of the biggest celebrities alive to just a guy wearing a black baseball cap and carrying a Starbucks cup. He was there to work. We were there to work. So we went to work.

And it was thrilling to watch him do what he does. It was just as entertaining to see the crew operate and feel the love Matt and Paul Greengrass have for each other. Their commitment, and in turn our commitment–as seemingly unimportant as it was–to the creative process gave me an experience I won’t forget. Ever.

I have no idea if my face will show up on the big screen or not. Even if I end up on the cutting room floor, I’m thankful for experience.  It’s just not every day that you get to spend almost 12 hours with Matt Damon. And I have to say that Post-Damon Depression is a thing. The struggle is real, y’all.  I find myself thinking, “What do I do with my life now?”

MD what up

(Also not mine. Giphy again.)

Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme, but true nonetheless. I’ve been watching a lot of movies and tv in the past fews days and I’ve found that I’m completely fixated on the background players. Sometimes, I have to pause and watch again because I’ve missed something in the action due to focusing so hard on the extras.

This made me realize that Matt and Greengrass were right. The faceless people, the miniscule details, the minutia that encompasses “everything in the shot but Matt Damon” give authenticity. They add to credibility of the characters and ground them in reality so we can sit in the theatres and root for them. They build the world that we’ve shown up to see.

I’m going to apply that concept to my writing. And I’m going to notice it in movies. And I’m going to do my best to honor it, because I truly felt honored by having the experience of being one of them.