Sunday, September 18, 2016

REMINISCING: Lockport the Movie

This week’s Reminiscing came about by total fluke, and only because I was cleaning out my library. For those of you who know me, know that me and neatness do not exactly go hand in hand. I’m a disaster, and so was my library. Once I got to the point that I couldn’t get through the room without moving things, I knew it was time to take action and organize my room. In the course of attempting to organize the piles of….stuff...I ran across something that took me back to some special events that took place during my school years.

I think I was in Junior High when a paper came around about working on writing for a movie script that could possibly take place in Lockport. My friend, Scott, and I decided that this was something that we should do. We both wanted to be writers and this could be a great experience for us to learn how to be better writers. During the cleaning of my library, I found my copy of the script of the movie.

We had to meet at the library at Lockport High School in the evening. There were a lot of people there of all ages. We thought it would be mostly kids our age. There were younger and older students, as well as residents of the area of all ages. They split us into  smaller writing groups. Luckily, Scott and I were kept together. I was shy and was kind of afraid to have to interact with people with whom I was unfamiliar.

There were four of us in the group and we were given a writing assignment. Philip J. Marshall, the head writer, had the basic outline done. It was our job to flesh out each scene. One of the scenes that our group was given was about an interaction in the principal’s office. We spent a couple of nights working on it before we polished it up and gave it to the rest of the writers to read through. It got very positive feedback.

As part of the writing deal, some of us had the opportunity to go to New York City to meet some of the writing counterparts from there. It was the first time I had ever flown. Scott and I went with his dad as our chaperone. We actually flew into Newark and then rode in a van into the city. On the way in, we went through one of the tunnels beneath the river. On the way out, we went across the George Washington Bridge.

We did a little sightseeing, but not much. We had dinner at the Empire State Building. I think it was a Mexican restaurant that was below street level. Unfortunately, we did not get to go to the top of the building. I had never seen so much traffic in my life, though. There were vehicles everywhere, and everyone was honking.

We did a recreation of the “Wedding of the Waters.” We had a small container of water from the canal in Lockport, and we went to the river to mingle the waters just like they had in 1825. It was after dark, and probably not the smartest thing we did when we were there. But, hey, it was fun. And it was another chance to appear on camera.

We were at Emmet Belknap for our normal school day at that time. Several months after we finished the regular writing, the classes were assembled in the auditorium for an assembly by Philip Marshall trying to promote our endeavor. He showed a short film about the process that had been undertaken to get them to the point of asking for money from the studio.

Much of the video was footage of us sitting in the library all those evening writing in our groups. There was a bit of us meeting our NYC counterparts in their school, and, of course, of the “Wedding of the Waters.” I’m pretty sure that Scott was part of that.

Probably the coolest thing for Scott and I about the film we watched was the scene that was chosen to be used in promotional materials to gain monetary support. It was the scene that we had written about the principal’s office. James DePaiva, the actor who played Max Holden on the soap opera, “One Life to Live” was the man who narrated the whole video, as well as the actor who starred in the scene.

It was a very surreal moment to see something I had written appear on the big screen. It was one of those moments that helped to steer me deeper into a writer’s life. Scott and I both had a little extra strut in our step even though most of our classmates had no idea why.

As far as I know, the movie was never made. They never let me know if they did. When I look up Philip J. Marshall on IMBD, I do not find the movie on his list. I do find several documentaries with him as producer or executive producer.

With Sammy Dallas Bayes, the other writer on the project, I found little. Apparently, he has been the director of nearly every production at a small theater in Oneonta, New York. I have no idea how either of these guys came up with the idea or ended up in Lockport. Still, it was one of those experiences I will never forget. I learned a lot from my fellow writers.

If we ever, as a community, get another chance to work on a project like this, we should all jump at the chance. Sure, nothing may come of it, but new friends and experiences will more than make up for it. Besides, maybe someday, that movie will be made and the group of us will have bragging rights.

Craig Bacon once wrote a play with Scott and George. If you’d like to see that on stage someday, keep supporting local theater.