INT. PSYCHIATRIST OFFICE — DAY
Dr. Frank: What are you doing?
Zach: [sits up on chaise lounge] I’m right here?
Dr. Frank: No, I mean at school … as you were saying.
Zach: Oh. Well, I have my classes, five of them right now. Lot of work with those, but they’re like Film and English so I can’t complain. [beat] And I write for the newspaper, The Daily Sun. I write for the Arts section: you know, movie reviews, concert write-ups, columns, pretty much anything on Breaking Bad. I’ve had a few cool interviews, too. Do you know A.O. Scott?
Dr. Frank: Zach, look out my window.
Dr. Frank: What do you see?
Zach: Central Park?
Dr. Frank: Yes. I know who A.O. Scott is.
Zach: Okay. [looks at hands] Well, I’m glad I talked to him. This was last week. Being a movie critic for The New York Times, that’s a great job.
Dr. Frank: What do you want to do with your life?
Zach: Oh, geez. There it is…
Dr. Frank: It’s the big question.
Zach: Yeah, I mean, sometimes it keeps me up at night. Like I said, I love film. I want to do something in that field.
Dr. Frank: In what capacity?
Zach: That’s the big question. I would love to direct, write or produce, or even edit. I’m not terribly confident in any of those — like, so much of directing and producing remains a mystery to me — but I appreciate that you can collaborate with so many other talented people to get one big project done. I’d love to give all that a shot. It’s just…
Dr. Frank: Hmm?
Zach: You know. I see where you’re going with this. You just asked me what I’m doing, currently, and then you ask me what I want to do with my life.
Dr. Frank: And?
Zach: And there’s not a whole lot of overlap between the two. Right?
Dr. Frank: I didn’t say that.
Zach: Well, I took a screenwriting course last semester. I’m in a filmmaking class now. I didn’t mention that before.
Dr. Frank: Hmm.
Zach: They’re not easy. I mean, I’m doing fine, grade-wise, but I am starting to realize how really good you have to be to make a living as a director, screenwriter, you know.
Dr. Frank: Good?
Zach: Well, maybe “good” isn’t the word. You have to be persistent. Like, just adamant about being a filmmaker and not giving up, always adapting. That’s what John Krokidas told me. He directed the movie, Kill Your Darlings, with Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter, in it. Have you heard of it? [cranes head backwards]
Dr. Frank: [scribbles in notebook]
Zach: [settles in again] You just have to really want it. I’m not sure I really, really want it. Am I willing to fight for it? I don’t know. [beat] Besides, I’m a ways away from being good enough. I have a lot more messing up to do before I’m ready for the big leagues. And, even then, I don’t know if I ever will be…
Dr. Frank: [raises head] I would like you to consider my first question again.
Zach: How am I today? Well, I’m here, Doc, clearly I could be better.
Dr. Frank: No, Zach, I mean the question that started this dialogue of ours. What are you doing now that you excel in?
Zach: [exhales] It’s tough to say.
Dr. Frank: I don’t think it is.
Zach: What you getting at?
Dr. Frank: You talk about wanting to be a film director or editor but you keep returning to the work you do currently, the writing you do for The Sun.
Zach: Yeah, I guess so. It’s a big thing I do.
Dr. Frank: Please elaborate.
Zach: Well, I enjoy it — to an extent. There are many pieces I’ve written that I totally disown. Sometimes they’re bland or too abstract, or sometimes I take some stupid idea I thought was novel and extend it too far. [beat] But there are pieces of mine I am proud of. Some of them have a sense of voice and conviction. To be a good critic, you need those things.
Dr. Frank: It sounds like you have had time at school to err in your writing and get better doing so.
Zach: Yeah, that’s right. It takes time, doesn’t it?
Dr. Frank: To sit here, with you, today: 14 years of studies, after high school.
Zach: Man, that’s right. Wow. What better time to mess up than at college? [cranes head again]
Dr. Frank: This is your hour, not mine. Please continue.
Zach: Yes, okay. I’m just realizing now that I’ve started on a path of journalism, and that I’ve made some headway. I think I have. To really excel in filmmaking would require starting from scratch, on a different path, which I have begun to do. But it’s tough, and I’m not sure if it’s for me. [beat] Plus, I believe great criticism is an art of its own. Don’t you agree?
Dr. Frank: [wistfully] I was a film critic for The Crimson, long before you were born.
Zach: Awesome! [coughs] Well, any advice? What path should I take?
Dr. Frank: All yours to decide. [looks at watch, slams notebook shut] Look at that, our hour is up. Same time next week?
Zach: Ah… [lies rigid on couch]
Dr. Frank: [walks to door, opens it]
Zach: Alright! [bolts up and out toward the door] Sure thing, Doc. Same time next week.
Dr. Frank: Be sure to see Diane on your way out. The month’s bill is due. [slams door shut]
This article was written for The Cornell Daily Sun and can be viewed at its original location via this link.