The casting agent said all I had to do was show up and the role of the prosecuting attorney in 'Lincoln Lawyer’ was mine. I remember that call very distinctly. It’s the call every actor waits for, as they drag themselves from audition to audition. The difference was that a week before I had decided I was not going to act any more.
Shocked? You should have heard the riot act the casting agent read me. After she calmed down, she explained that the first actor they had selected (yes, I wasn’t their first choice) was in rehab, without expectations of returning to the industry. The second (by then I was really starting to appreciate my choice of no longer acting) had picked up the lead in his own feature.
I was their third choice. "Just show up for a final read" they said, which I found odd, since I had never read for them in the first place. Someone had submitted me to them.
Many actors will think I was insane for not taking that role, but even to this day, I have no regrets with my decision to no longer act. Yes, I still do interviews for my indie film magazine, but no actual acting.
Why, you ask?
The answer comes in a few pieces. First, I never thought I was that great of an actor. Yes, I did a lot of work as an extra and even a featured extra. I did bit parts, etc. I first appeared on TV at the age of seven, in a cooking show in the Pacific Northwest and it wasn’t hard to collect up 300-400 roles in plays, TV, movies, live performance, etc., but it was nothing more than a hobby to me.
The second piece is probably the most important part of my decision. I came to the realization that I was never that good of an actor. Because of that, I believed (and still do) that those with a lot more talent and passion for their art and that side of the business deserved the roles much more than I. It made me feel like I was betraying the industry that I loved. If just for that reason alone, it would have been be easy for me to step aside.
The third piece to the equation was more about wanting to make a true difference in the industry.
Though my professional writing career, which started out in journalism and somewhat by accident, quickly led back to my passion for film. Knowing I was a decent writer and had been a ghostwriter for several politicians and journalists for their columns, a friend called me with a request. Take a look at an associate's script and give him some notes. I agreed and quickly found the issue, fixed it and sent it back. A short time later, I received a package with some cash in it. 'Nice', I thought to myself.
Soon, I had another call, then another and another. This soon became a regular occurrence. I have to admit, the money was nice. I was getting paid to do something I truly love. Pushing the pen. Then I received a call. This person needed some help with the scripting of a live event and wanted me on location. So, a short plane ride later, I was neck deep in a nightmare. Not only was there to be a live event, with dinner, but it was to be filmed and the producer was nowhere to be found.
An associate of mine, knowing I was familiar with the film industry, offered my services and I soon found myself running a three camera crew and getting everything up and running in time for the event. It was then that the actual producer showed up, feathers ruffled, due to being given the entirely wrong location. Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri. Apparently the line producer didn’t know there was a difference.
The producer, grateful that things were in place, took over and the rest of the show came off without a hitch.
Upon arriving home, I found an overnight package with a nice stack of cash in it and a thank you note from that same producer. A month later he asked me to help him out with another project. Soon he was referring my services over to several of his associates and I became a ghostproducer (yes, there are even those out there making projects happen under the name of others).
Until a few years ago, the only time my name was brought up in a production meeting was when something was going wrong. Not because of something I had done, but rather my ability to come in and fix things. Be it as a ghostwriter, or as a ghostproducer. This was due to my ability to overcome setbacks and complete things.
When I was randomly attacked, about six years ago, I dealt with traumatic brain injury. I lost the ability to write, speak, or do pretty much anything. It was only after extensive therapy that I was able to recover from this setback.
You might consider it a horribly, life altering experience, and you might be right. To me it was more than that though. While I was lying in bed, going through therapy, and more importantly, realizing my mortality, I came to one conclusion. Yes, I had made good money as a ghostwriter and ghostproducer. Yet, when I really looked at things, there was something missing. I had no legacy to leave my daughter. Nothing, except for some acting credits that I felt I didn’t really deserve.
It was that day that that I decided to change my entire life and how I looked at my business and industry. I would no longer take food out of the mouths of qualified and passionate actors either. I’d stick to what my passion was. Writing and producing. This time with my name attached to the work.
Consider it a power trip, if you like. In acting you do as you are directed. As a writer you create the initial story. As a producer, you bring all the pieces together to get that story told, by the director and those great actors. By combining the role of writer and producer into one, I can make sure the story is solid and that all the pieces are there, so everyone can do their jobs, and at the end of the day get paid on a great project.
It may sound naive, but even now that I’m fast approaching 40 years in this business, I still have that childlike love of movies. By giving up on the hobby of acting and leaving it up to those with the passion and amazing talent for it, I can do so much better for my industry by focusing on my passion of writing. It allows me the opportunity to give them something that I believe to be worth their time and talent. Add to it the skills needed to bring all the pieces together. To create projects as a producer that are fiscally viable, while enjoyable for not just the viewer, but everyone that worked so hard to bring it together.
Do I regret my decision to no longer act? Not at all. In the five years since I stopped ghostwriting, I’ve sold or optioned 32 screenplays, mentored some amazing people, produced projects with some fantastic talent. It was that decision, due to that attack, that has since allowed me to create something that will change this industry I know and love forever.
And let’s be honest, you really wouldn’t like to see me on the big screen!
About Scott C. Brown
With a strong background in the film industry and having appeared on TV for the first time at age seven, Scott has spent a lot of time in front of the camera. This has allowed for a better appreciation and understanding of the demands required behind the camera. Now, as a writer, producer, director, publisher, and distribution agent, this experience is key in developing solid and successful projects. This also includes guiding those that are seeking to make their own projects a success.
Scott’s attention and energy are now spent on bringing projects to fruition, with a focus on producing and writing.
Having stopped ghostwriting over five years ago, Scott has sold and/or optioned 32nd scripts under his own name, the first was in 2015.
Scott is currently adding investors to a slate of micro-budget feature and series films. The slate, entitled ‘The Indie Vision Project’, is a unique dynamic of traditional and new media thinking. With distribution already secured for the entire slate, the first two films, with a market valuation well over production costs, have already started receiving offers. Set to scale-up operations, the next dozen films are currently in development, preproduction, and production.
As a producer for other filmmakers, Scott actively works to change the outcome of projects by bringing his years of experience and extensive connections in an effort to make them fiscally viable and ready for distribution. You can network with Scott on Stage 32.
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