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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Don't Quit Your Day Job- a post by Mr. Scott Nicholson!

Don't Quit Your Day Job
By Scott Nicholson

The title is what they tell actors, screenwriters, directors, and pretty much everyone else in Hollywood with a dream and a gig as a Baskin-Robbins scooper.

It's meant as discouragement, and while usually applied to movie people, writers get hit with it from time to time. All I know is I'd much rather take my chances as a writer, and here's why...

I am a lousy actor. I couldn't even get a part in the grade-school plays, and even in the church Christmas plays I always had a non-speaking role as a shepherd. They only thing they would trust me to do was wear a robe and point at an imaginary star.

About six years ago, I visited a local movie set in a mountain hollow where a crew was filming a movie called "A Tale About Bootlegging." (check out the website) Yeah, clumsy title, should have been "A Bootlegger's Tale." Not that it really matters, since the movie will almost certainly fade away in a can somewhere, though it looks plenty funny.

I knew one of the executive producers, Brad Batchelor, so he threw me in as an extra. I was a barefoot hillbilly in the 1930's-era movie, and escorted out local mayor during a funeral procession. I also had a bit part walking around in the background in a couple of places. The movie had an actual budget, and I hung out with Randy Jones, best known as the cowboy from the Village People (he's tall) and Sonny Shroyer, who was a deputy on "Dukes of Hazzard." Fun day, maybe 15 seconds of screen time.

Apparently it all fell apart during the attempt to get distribution, and I think it was actually edited and ready to be sold somewhere but that's the last I heard of it.

Brad, who is a chiropractor, bon vivant, and actor (he was in "The Patriot"), recruited me for his own project "Against The Wind," a movie which actually looks like it may get released at some point. A trailer is up at http://www.againstthewindfilm.com.

Brad has been ambitious, utilizing international locations for his 1920's-era epic. The movie opens with a lot of World War I flying scenes, which is where I come in. I even got some lines as a flyboy, wearing one of those Rocky the Flying Squirrel caps, but I doubt any lines will appear in the movie. I also got to ride in Brad's biplane and have my bloody, injured character hauled from the plane.

At one point, I also dressed up in a guard uniform and patrolled the airfield, my helmet pulled low so no one could tell I was the same guy who used to be a pilot. And, my coolest role, I shaved my mustache, put on wire-framed glasses, and donned a doorman's cap to play a French chauffeur. I got to drive a 1918 Cadillac, a quality machine, and tell an officer "Oui, ma colonel" in mumbled Frenchy-sounding stuff.

Brad even set up an IMDB page for us actors, so I am in there somewhere, if I ever wanted to pay the "professional fee" to go in and update it and pretend like I am a real actor.

Five years later and Brad says the movie is "95 percent done." I've learned you hear that a lot in the movie business.

My third try for the brass ring is in the little-known dark-crime thriller "Buried Beneath." The title might be pretty apt, as I haven't heard anything from those guys in two years even though they live in the next county. Their Stone Silent Productions (www.stonesilentproductions.com) Web site hasn't been updated in a while, with the "news" page stuck on 2006. They are really cool dudes so I hope they can pull it together, and the movie looks interesting, about a cop who cracks up.

I have a scene where I am a member of the police board, raking the guy over the coals for not playing by the rules. He freaks out and hallucinates that we are red-eyed zombie things. If I had to guess, I'd bet this one is 95 percent done as well.

So, my acting career in total is about 10 days on the set, five characters played, and zero seconds of screen time. I am not quitting my day job.

On the bright side, my novel "The Home" is under film option and has a script and might even get made for real. I am sure they will keep me far, far away from the set. If it's not the contract, I'll insist on it. I don't want that movie to be 95 percent almost about to happen.

So I will focus on telling stories and let Brad Pitt worry about the paparazzi.

Scott Nicholson is author of Speed Dating with the Dead, Drummer Boy, and 10 other novels, five story collections, four comics series, and six screenplays. A journalist and freelance editor in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, he often uses local legends in his work. This tour is sponsored by Amazon, Kindle Nation Daily, and Dellaster Design.

To be eligible for the Kindle DX, simply post a comment below with contact info. Feel free to debate and discuss the topic, but you will only be entered once per blog. Visit all the blogs on the tour and increase your odds. I’m also giving away a Kindle 3 through the tour newsletter and a Pandora’s Box of free e-books to a follower of “hauntedcomputer” on Twitter. And, hey, buy my books and put me in the Top 100 and I’ll throw in another random Kindle 3 giveaway. Thanks for playing. Complete details at http://www.hauntedcomputer.com/blogtour.htm.


Carol said...

A barefoot hillbilly, huh?


Diana said...

A man of many talents! :)

Eric said...

Note to self - never appear in a movie with Scott Nicholson unless you want it to always be 95% done. :)

calseeor (at) gmail (dot) com

Heather said...

Look at you, you've done it all! Very awesome Scott.

I'm 95% done with Murdermouth. ROFL No, not really, close to that though. Just had to throw that percentage in.

Kippoe said...

Yes the film is rough I have wrote, shot, directed, edited,and played some roles in movies it is a tough business and the way the economy is it's not easy to budget. Not that writing is not a easy gig either. Writing is more of a solitude adventure of your own time, where filming requires you to take the time from others of who you hope to have a finished piece to show for their hard work. Either way I'm glad to be part of both worlds.

Randy said...

How many time I've wanted to quit my day job!


author Christa Polkinhorn said...

Hey, I got to play the princess in a fairy tale once in a school production (I was about ten). Downhill from then on as far as my "acting career" is concerned. I think I saw a picture of you as the French chauffeur on one of your websites (or maybe I dreamt it). You looked très chique!

Kaitlyn (Kaitlyn in Bookland) said...

Scott is just amazing, isn't he?


Regge Ridgway said...

I plan to sign up as an available extra for movies filmed in my area near Hollywood. I have met a few who do that as their day job and have a blast. You can earn a little folding money as well. Just don't speak to the actors and you won't get bounced. Lol. Reg

Pink Panther said...

Guess there's no chance seeing Scott on the big silver screen, is there? A tragedy for the movie world... :)
You can reach me at luvpinkpanther@gmail.com

author Christa Polkinhorn said...

Okay, it's "très chic" - gee, I should know better.

chey said...

Good that you kept your day job!
chey127 at hotmail dot com

Brenda said...

It would be cool to see you in a cameo in The Home. varbonoff22 at cox dot net

Monster A Go-Go said...

Hi Scott,

I just have (as usual) some thoughts and observations--and even some insights--into what you said:

"In the church Christmas plays I always had a non-speaking role as a shepherd. They only thing they would trust me to do was wear a robe and point at an imaginary star."

It was while playing the shepherd that you first discovered the joys of goats. Remember? It was all quit scandalous and shameful. You kept disrupting rehearsals...one time, during the scene where the little angels walk on and sing "Away in the Manger"---you were "Away in the (next) Manger" causing quite the commotion. That's when your poor family was so embarrassed that they moved 4 counties away. O' the humiliation...

" I was a barefoot hillbilly"

Oh yes, your cameo role where you were playing yourself. Your finest hour!

" tell an officer 'Oui, ma colonel' in mumbled Frenchy-sounding stuff."

Oh is THAT what you (think) you said? It was so mumbly, the censors certainly did NOT hear it that way. That's the real reason for the film being held up---the amazingly obscene thing sounds like you are propositioning the officer. In fact, what it sounds like you are saying is so scandalous, it's the reason the whole "Don't Ask Don't Tell" thing is back in news and courts! I mean, when I first saw the film clip myself, with you saying that---I was beyond shocked! I've heard of some twisted, kinky things before, but what it SOUNDS like you are saying was a new oh-my-God-that's-disgusting LOW! Stick with the goats and leave the service men ALONE!

While the idea of "The Home" being made into a film is great news, I'm more excited about your secret diary being optioned by "Animal Planet--Late Night"! O' my!! You naughty, naughty boy!


Cathy M said...

Great post, Scott, and the comments by all your fans were a hoot to read.

caity_mack at yahoo dot com

Estella said...

95% done for how long????

kissinoak at verizon dot net

JenM said...

This kind of makes me wonder how many unfinished movies are just floating around out there. Probably less now then there used to be thanks to the wonder that is You Tube.

jen at delux dot com

Candace said...

Wow, you really do everything!

candace_redinger at yahoo dot com

Kristie said...

Wow! An actor, huh? Pretty cool! I have never had that desire. I'm not very photogenic in photos so I'm not sure how I would look on film.


Weston said...

Great news about the house. Hope it eventualy moves beyond 95% done. I also always love seeing what monster has to add to the discussion.



Jeff said...

You might try to get onto the screen with a Civil War movie, as your picture on one of the first posts looked very 1863ish and you have re-enacting experience. A lot of very successful actors got their big breaks at a significantly greater age than you. So just keep plugging ... but, don't quit your day job. I have heard that writers are often criticised that they do not have "real" day jobs! After reading Leo Leonni's "Fredrick" (see http://www.randomhouse.com/kids/lionni/books/Frederick/101916/), I have had no doubt that writers are to be held up as important, contributing citizens to us all, regardless of whether they can also act. So stand tall and keep your head up (unless you are a golfer!)

Jeff White whitejw@ameritech.net


you don't really want to be an actor...too restrictive for you....they have to follow direction and speak the words of others ...writers get to speak their own word, set their own scenes. much more freedom! spvaughan@yahoo.com

May said...

Writers write, actors act and that's how it works *giggle*

mayarend -at- yahoo.com.br

Ashley said...

Great post!


Also don't forget to check out my amazing giveaways located at the top of my blog posts.

Ashley's Bookshelf

lorraine_lanning said...

I was the Virgin Mary in my 6th grade Christmas play, only because I had long dark hair. Public elementary school too, that sure wouldn't go over well today.


Neal Hock said...

I've driven past a location where they were shooting a movie. Does that count for anything?


dor said...

Wow. I really enjoyed the post and all the comments.

dorcontest at gmail dot com

Maria Elizabeth Romana said...

When people film these movies that never get released, where do they get the money? And do they actually pay the actors and crew members who work on them? Or do they call up all their friends and ask them to help out for the fun of it? I find this all very interesting...

linz said...

Great post! Thanks for the contest!


Douglas Dorow said...

Thanks for sharing!

dwdorow at gmail dot com


stacey said...

Wow almost and Actor more then I can say about my self.

murcam49 said...

I got about 2 seconds of airtime in the movie "Convoy" back in the late '70s. What fun, eh? Stand around and wait.

author Scott Nicholson said...

Murcam, "Convoy"! I remember it (well, not your part. My family was into the CB craze for some reason.

Maria, a lot of people go into movies as speculative ventures. Some are wealthy and want to be "producers," others get fast-talked into spending money, and some are just plain tax write-offs. Of course it's so cheap now anyone can do a Blair Witch but unless you are the first to a good idea, it's easy to get lost. And someone somewhere still has to market it.

I have a feeling Brad's will get finished but I wouldn't be surprised if most of my scenes get cut, because he probably has 100 hours of footage!


Inanna said...

OMG "Convoy!" Kris Kristopherson! lol

I had a friend who was an extra in Dawn of the Dead. He also played one of the garbage men in Creepshow. :)

inannajourney at gmail.com

J.T. Cummins said...

Scott,you can be in one of my movies anytime -- though I doubt I'll ever care to make another. But like all those talented actor-table waiters here in Hollywood, hope does spring eternal. Don't ever stop dreaming.

J.T. Cummins

Karen Bell said...

You make movies sound like that box of half finished crochet projects in the back of my closet.

(still hoping for that kindle)

booklover0226 said...

Well, while I wait to see you on the big screen; I'll keep busy by reading your books!

Tracey D
booklover0226 at gmail dot com

Michael L. Martin Jr. said...

There's no business like show business. I hope "The Home" gets made.


deanna said...

I would LOVE a Kindle DX. Thanks for the opportunity to win one! :)

P.S. Click on my name for my contact info. ;)

Sharon S. said...

I was in Willmington, NC during the late 80's when they were making movies there . I had lots of collage friends who got to be extras in movies with Arnold Swatz...(the CA governer guy ). As well as some cool horror movies like Pumpkinhead.


Variety said...

Consider me entered. Sadly, I have nothing to add to the conversation.


Anonymous said...

You have taken me to another site I did not know about and will follow. Thanks!
Nadine stacypilot at yahoo dot com

Ima said...

Funny post, Scott! Good luck with The Home. Maybe they can get Brad Pitt for it :)

dreamer dot ima at gmail dot com

Shelbie and Amanda said...

What a fun guest post!

Icedream said...

Fingers crossed that everything works out prefectly with "The Home".

waitmantwillie at hotmail dot com

EVA SB said...

My mother always wanted me to be an actress, poor woman. I wanted to be an accountant.


Bibliophile said...

Great post - I hope it's not your presence that hexed the movies...

sailorwind said...

So in a Tale of Bootlegging, did you get to wear a hat?

sailorwind at gmail dot com

Missie said...

LOL! I always had non-speaking roles, too. I get to nervous.

I've always wanted to play a Zombie in a movie. I think I'd be pretty good at it. Just walk about slowly and hungry. Not much different from what I'm doing now. :D

Thanks for the post! Very funny.
missie at theunreadreader dot com

Rabid Fox said...

Zero seconds of screen time. Ouch. Ah well, at least the book thing seems to be working for ya.


A.P. Fuchs said...

When I started off as an artist, I used to think that whatever your art, you’d only focus on that one craft. Writers write. Artists draw. Actors act. No mixing them. None.

Then you get older and you realize that--as pretentious as it sounds--artists tend to drift from one medium to another, even if just to learn they’re not as good at it as they’d like to be.

There’s a freedom in that, one that’s more fulfilling than just sticking to one craft only and rolling with it even if that one craft is successful for them.


BLOOD OF THE DEAD and ZOMBIE FIGHT NIGHT just $2.99 for the Amazon Kindle.


Beth said...

Congrats on having your script optioned!! That's truly a big deal.

JC Phelps said...

Congrats on the possible movie of your book. I hope it makes it to the big screen 100% finished!


hendy said...

Well if you do decided to quit your day job you might try your hand as a stand up comedian.
hmhenderson AT yahoo DOT com

Wanda said...

I loved reading this post! And a great giveaway, too! Please enter my name in your draw. Thanks!

Linda Kish said...

Maybe you should stick with writing. Your humor is great.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

byonge said...

Hmm, I already gave up my day job. Uh Oh.


fickleinpink said...

not brave enough to quit my day job yet :)

but a KINDLE DX would be so cool! Please include me in the draw!

xoxo, Ficleinpink


bettycd said...

Wonderful news that you have a film option on The Home. Here's hoping it goes all the way

Margay said...

You are a renaissance man! Is there anything you can't do?


Chrizette said...

Love the post - and the tour :)

baychriz at gmail dot com

Chrizette said...

Love the post - and the tour :)

baychriz at gmail dot com

Jason Fedelem said...

Still following the tour

web at jasonfedelem dot com

katklaw777 said...

Increasing my Kindle chances...interesting post, thanks.

author Scott Nicholson said...

My presence doesn't have much to do with getting movies made--the reality is it is amazingly hard work and it's a miracle ANY movie gets made, much less a big, beautiful one that changes your life or the way you think.

You can find a few pictures of me as a barefoot hillbilly on my Web site--I am going to do a post on my own blog (http://hauntedcomputer.blogspot.com) soon so I can feature all the pictures.

And, yes, I do more--coming up on the tour will be a post about my "career" as a musician.


Horror Books with Greg said...


Good luck on Home getting made as a movie. Even if it happens, I'm sure I'll still prefer the book.

As for acting, well, you may never make it past the cutting room floor but it sounds like you had a lot of fun.

--Greg the Undead Rat

theundeadrat (@) gmail (.) com

Michelle @ The True Book Addict said...

I was big into drama and plays in high school. In fact, I had leads in most of the plays so naturally that was my first ambition...to be an actress. I was even accepted at a couple of colleges for performing arts, but my parents divorced and I had no help with applying nor on the financial side so I gave it up. I only regret it sometimes. I now content myself with reading and writing. Hoping my novel will be "discovered" when it's finished. Maybe one of my dreams will come true! Great post, Scott!


Anonymous said...

glad you're sticking to writing.

Julie pjtansey@hotmail.com

Gail said...

Doesn't Stephen King often make a brief appearance in movies made from his books? A precedent has been set, Scott, go for it!
Gail in Florida
cowgirl3000 at gmail dot com

Dale said...

Good luck Scott with your movie projects.

dalelmurphy AT gravesidetales dot com

Hank Brown said...

"Against the Wind" sounds like my kinda' flick.

I think this Kindle giveaway is about 95% done, ain't it?


Twitter: MachineTrooper

author Scott Nicholson said...

@gail yes King has appeared in a lot (though not all) of his movies. He is a worse actor than I am!

@Hank, no, we're only 30 percent done. This tour is a marathon event and only the strong survive!


Sarah E Olson said...

I know I can't quit my day job but I'll still dream about it!

saraheolson AT yahoo.com

Andrea I said...

This is a different post as usual. I din't know you had so many movie adventures.


Sophia said...

Haha wow interesting post :)

sophiayunjin @ gmail . com

author Scott Nicholson said...

Thanks for entering, everyone. Comments closed at 75 for this blog. Please visit What Book is That often.

Thanks for hosting us, Emily. I hope everyone joins future stops on the tour.

Scott Nicholson

vindel said...

Wonderful idea!


Miellyn said...

Jeannine D

jpearson said...

awsome! having a blast reading!


Karina said...


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