I titled the first script I ever wrote, Phoenix. Before I get into why, I’ll go into why I even STARTED writing ten years ago. At the time, I was booking the same roles over and over again, which was essentially the bitchy, rebellious teenager. And as grateful as I was for the work (sometimes more-so than others), I was itching to book roles that excited me. I finally came to the conclusion that if that was going to happen, I had to take the matter into my own hands.

They say write what you know, and at that time, I was very much into dreams, my relationship, electronic music, and struggling to distance myself from an overindulgent friend group. The story of Emma, a lonely girl who lived in her imagination, naturally came to life. I wanted to create a coming of age story set against a colorful background that tackled themes like peer pressure, drug abuse, and stepping into your power. So I did what every writer who’s ever written anything important does. I started writing. We’ll often say that we want to do something and then find every excuse not to physically begin the process…

Once I started I couldn’t stop. The first draft was 150 pages long (which, let’s be honest, was about 45 pages too long). It wasn’t great. But... It showed promise. And I realized just how much I loved building worlds for my characters to inhabit. I knew immediately that I would write for the rest of my life. What I didn’t know, is how much time it would take to make a writing career a reality. From that moment on I continued developing the script, getting notes, and going on meetings for the film. During the process, my relationship dissolved and reignited countless times. Which made figuring out how the romance played out in the script extremely painful and tedious.

I was also booking other roles, making music, and took a few years off to write other scripts, which in turn, helped me become a better writer. Then three or four years ago I directed a sizzle reel for the project (which you can watch under the writing/directing tab on my website) to entice investors to hop on board. I hadn’t originally planned to direct the film, but the more time I spent writing, the more I saw every shot in my head and decided I couldn’t trust the vision with anyone else. We had a three day shoot over a weekend, and it was a beautiful whirlwind. I loved it. But ultimately, the script STILL wasn’t in the best place it could be.

So I opened back up Final Draft (a writing program for screenwriters) and realized the movie was a thriller and not a coming of age film. I also had to tighten it up and make stronger character choices. I made peace with where my relationship to the characters stood, in real life and on the page, and I disengaged from them on a personal level. I started looking at the script as a dark thriller with a fragmented timeline.

I love that this script in particular has taken me ten years, and is still just getting off the ground. I used to think I was wasting time when projects wouldn’t happen right away, I would really lose my mind over it. I now know that nothing is ever wasted. It all comes back around, oftentimes in surprising ways, and always at the right time…

“They say the Phoenix lives 1000 years, and when it nears its death, builds a nest, sets it on fire, and dies in the flames, only to rise up from its own ashes. Does the Phoenix know when it’s time to burn? Is it a choice? Or is it one of those moments you can’t pinpoint until you look back on it?” Emma

Maiara Walsh