I had the bright idea to fill my Career Day time slot at St. Helena Elementary by having kids stand up and read a few scenes of my latest screenplay, “The Wedding Photographer,” in character. What better way to introduce them to the world of writers? Fourth graders, I figured, have strong enough reading skills and self-confidence that I’d have no trouble finding volunteers to play the roles of Dillon (the protagonist) Sheila (his mother) and Sienna (his girlfriend). They loved it but it turns out they can read faster than I expected. One little girl flipped right past my carefully selected scenes.
“Miss Teresa,” she politely called out, “there’s a bad word at the beginning of the middle part.”
“Must be a typo,” was my lame response as I quickly gathered up the scripts to head to my second session: Mrs. Washington’s second grade class.
I asked the teacher to select the strongest readers since I wasn’t sure if they’d know how to pronounce all the words. They were all excited, except for the girl assigned to play Dillon’s girlfriend. Turns out in real life, she hates the boy picked to read Dillon’s role and was mortified even to stand next to him. But when she realized her scene involved turning down his wedding proposal, out came the hip, the lip and the loudest voice you can imagine.
“I’m sure it (the ring) fits,” she snarked, “It’s just you and I – don’t.”
The whole class howled with laughter. And according to my first official focus group of under-18-year-olds, I’m golden. If only I could take them all with me out to LA this week to help me sell “The Wedding Photographer.”