High point / by Vanessa Fiola

**The next 12 days I'll be posting 500 words a day here as part of a creative writing challenge. Join the FB group.**

Every year I set intentions for myself. One of my favorite things to do at the end of the year is to go through that list and see what I've followed through on. Some years deliver everything I set my sights on, while others fall short. Overall though, this is a good strategy for me. 

Last year, one of the items on my list was to take on a new creative challenge; something that I have never done before. That goal collided with one of my best friend’s--she had written a couple of feature length screenplays along with a short film, and what would you say if I asked you to play one of the leads in the short. I haven’t acted since I played a dog detective in 4th grade, so I considered this more or less within the spirit of my objective.

While I have a flair for recounting stories with dramatic effect, I am no actor. Knowing that I’d be the only non-actor on set, and surrounded by 3 of my closest friends who are, I studied my handful of lines for weeks beforehand. I ran lines, as they say.

The film was low-budget, so we agreed that we’d book an appointment at NARS beforehand instead of paying for a make-up and hair artist for the entirety of the shoot. It was that or cut into our Sweetgreens food budget. In retrospect, I should have packed a sandwich and sprung for the artist, because that Sqirl bowl wasn't worth the disaster that ended up being my face. My NARS guy took the whole stage makeup thing a little too seriously. I arrived early to the shoot and my friends tried to hide their shock with a courteous “Oh, you have so much makeup on, I don’t recognize you” thing, It was worse that I thought. After I generally made everything about me for about an hour, Sachie, (rhymes with Cartier), who also wrote, co-produced and starred in the short, felt sorry enough for me that she attempted to reapply it about 30 minutes before we began filming.

The shoot was long—about 10 hours. We shot it using a technique called “one shot” which means that there is only one camera, and that you have to deliver the entire thing in, well, one shot. If anyone messes up, everyone starts again. This is where memorizing my lines came in handy, though I wasn't without my share of flubs. The director (also an acquaintance) employed what I later learned to be Method techniques. I had no idea what that was, but I googled it afterwards and it turns out that Dustin Hoffman was a giant dick. Overall though, I felt creatively alive one long Sunday night at the beginning of May, and did something I never would have planned.

I saw an early cut of the film. Normally I would be drawn straight to my flaws, and in this case, the lighting didn’t do me any favors. But this time, my initial reaction was one of pride—I did something I was scared to do and I didn’t suck.

The film made it into two festivals: Studio City and the International Women’s Festival in Miami. I went to the Studio City opening, housed in a tiny theatre. (So did Kirk and Alexis because they are great and I love them.) You guys, there is something sorta intoxicating about seeing your name on a big screen, even if I had to buy my own glass of $4 box wine.
Here it is.