It was a bit messy at the beginning. I had to hand round my ethics forms, give a quick update on the progress of my PhD (the larger context for Development), assign some small parts. I struggled more than I'd thought I would in a room filled with people I knew; I was clumsy. Too many days alone at the table, tapping away on my laptop.
But I enjoyed it. A little. And it was lovely to be able to say that the Victoria Foundation will be our charitable umbrella, so donors—here and in some overseas countries—get tax benefits. To be able to mention Women Make Movies and fiscal sponsorship, that we're experimenting with a model that may also work for other women filmmakers here.
Then the actors read. It was just like Monday, when two of the actors practised. The 34 pages I selected—the arc of Emily's story—took on a life of their own. Again. Wow, I thought. These actors, all of them also writers and/or visual artists and/or directors, will do it extra specially well, add so much. They are wonderful. And they all live in Wellington: they know the city, the seventh main character, intimately. This matters, to me anyway.
Then at the end, as I was thinking, Will that end work? How will it work? there was this sudden noise. People clapping. With enthusiasm. I love to clap, almost as much as singing Happy Birthday To You. Am often the first to clap, with delight. But I had to will myself to clap. What was that about, after that beautiful reading?
And then, as the audience spoke up, something more astonishing happened: the range and generosity of the responses told me (among some other stuff) that there's an audience for Development. I was so glad Erica was there, the producer and shining anchor, taking copious notes and then chatting with everyone after the reading, because I was stunned.
So on Saturday, the first rainy day for a very long time, I put on my green boots decorated with stars and lightning, unfurled my umbrella and went down to Oriental Bay to get a newspaper. Stood on the seawall, looked at the people hurrying along the footpath, at the waves and the seaweed. And ran the promenade & beach scenes through my head.
Looked up at the art deco apartment-for-sale that I imagine is Emily's apartment. Would the owner let us use it—no trucks, a very small cast & crew—as a location, before it changes hands? Or would Iris at the window—blowing Emily's rape whistle—be invisible from the beach? Obscured by that big pohutukawa tree?
Stop it, I thought then. We've got enough ticking clocks; that apartment will be sold and occupied in no time at all.