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"From This Point Forward."

Paul Buscemi's Column for Monday October 1st, 2001. Buscemiarts@hotmail.com

It seems to me that we have two worlds now. The one before September 11th and the one after. Since that unimaginably horrific day, I have really been contemplating what I should write about from now on. I have always considered myself a writer that is half "escapist" and half "reflectionist." What I chose to write about (and not write about) changed about four years ago, after I became a father. Everything comes down to the world my children will inherit someday, and what small part I can contribute now, for that cause.

I was on target to finish my latest screenplay by Sept. 30th, but now have had to extend that deadline. Suddenly, harmless elements in my story for a "Spy Kids" audience now seem inappropriate. This has left me re-thinking what and how my writing will speak from now on.

I believe as writers we can knowingly or unknowingly shape the consciousness of the societies we live in. I'm beginning to really grasp how powerful the written word can be. When those words are further transcribed to movie and television screens their influence can be a tremendous responsibility for writers and filmmakers to bear.

You can see where my brain has been going with this. To make sense of it all, I asked many different industry professionals for their opinions. I posed a question something like this:

"With the tragic and alarming events of the past weeks, our work life seems so trivial now. Much has been said about ?getting on with our lives.' So then, what should we in Hollywood be doing right now, in light of what has happened?"

For some reason I did this by e-mail instead of the phone. This elicited all kinds of responses, which were written with such eloquence, I am reluctant to cut-and-paste them into a column here (as I would normally do). Instead, I want them to play out in their entirety as much as possible. I also want to thank everyone who took the time (which now seems more precious than ever) and participated in this request of mine. So, here we go.

"What we do as writers is not trivial. We are the voices of our age. What will be known of our time is what we choose to tell, how we speak our truth. It is incumbent on us to speak it from our hearts, from our best selves, to push ourselves to find the core of our emotions, the totality of our experiences, and share what is finest in us. To be the voices of compassion rather than vengeance, humanity rather than rage, to sing the song of mercy and patience and love. Insanity and violence arise from desperation and anguish, from the wounded soul. We must look to heal our hearts, and see ourselves in every mirror, no matter how shattered or charred. We are here, as writers, to remove the masks so we can see ourselves as one."
- Marc Scott Zicree, writer-producer.

"I considered myself a storyteller before (this) world altering tragedy and I still consider myself a storyteller today. That hasn't changed. What has changed is the type of stories I want to tell."

- Jeff Probst, Writer-Director.

I have heard many people describe the horrible images of September 11 as so unconceivable, that it was as if they were watching a movie, when they saw them. Surely, it is so hard to process such grave and terrifying images. "There is a shadow of guilt from the many movies (and) TV shows that have depicted terrorist (and) destruction scenarios," one producer said. He offered this as well:

"That brings me to what Hollywood's most significant contribution ever was during difficult times, the depression (and) times of war. Movies offered an escape from harsh reality, a forum for people to come together and collectively feel better. That becomes Hollywood's job again and no where was it more evident than Friday nights benefit show that raised tens of millions and had everyone talking about being 'moved' by the music. It was an escape. Therefore, that is our mission as idea creators, storytellers, film makers - to create a make believe world that is a place which provides a positive escape for its audience whose lives are changed forever. The truths of SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS are more necessary and more important than ever.

- Ryan Johnson, Producer.

To Be Continued....


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