Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Be Seated For This

We've been holding off on telling anybody about this until we knew more for sure. But over the weekend there was enough confirmation that we think it's time to let everybody know what's been going on behind the scenes over at Johnsonland. So....

We're moving to LA!

Maybe not - probably not - permanently, but for at least a year. It seems that in addition to being magic, hilarious and phenomenally sweet, Claire is also movie star potential. We found out for sure Sunday that she's been picked as one of three child leads in the next Robert Zemeckis film, called Eve. (Her part is May Fairy 1, and she's geeked about that) We have to move to do the movie. If you don't know Zemeckis, he made Forrest Gump, Castaway and Contact (all three of which I loved) and he's been experimenting with a new kind of animation technique that mirrors real actor's faces in Polar Express and Beowulf. Eve is going to be in this photorealistic/animated vain, but it will look exactly like Claire because the computers will monitor her face. They want Claire to train with a speech therapist first. Her name is Julie Senoke and she's supposed to be one of the best. She's also going to prepare Claire for the very unique work of child acting, especially the longish hours. She's kind of like a child actor mentor and she's worked with a lot of famous kids. I've had a few hour+ conversations with her and I really trust her and think this is going to be an amazing experience for Claire on so many levels.

They're renting us a house in the Laurel Canyon area, near Zemeckis' preproduction studio complex. I guess these films take a very long time to make, much of which is done in pre-production. So we will be out there for a while. But in addition, Claire will be signing with an agency connected to Zemeckis' film production company and there's probably good reason to assume she will move into other projects once this one wraps. IF SHE WANTS.

Claire won't start Kindergarten classes in the fall as we had planned, but will have a private tutor, which should be infinitely better. Plus this is essentially a kids movie. There is, like, only one adult in the cast (Ian McKellan from X-Men), so she will stay socialized with all the other kids present in the cast and in the families of the crew.

Another benefit - and this is not the criteria we based the decision on - is that Kirsten and I will finally be able to get out of debt. The salary that Claire makes is all hers and will sit in a fund that will essentially pay for her college and then some. But they've set us up with a ridiculously generous living stipend to pay for accommodations AND allowed us the use of one of the houses attached to the Zemeckis production empire, rent-free. Which means we will get to keep most of that living stipend.

As you can imagine, there are a ton of things to think about and we're trying to think of them all. For the most part we've been under the assumption that this wouldn't go through so maybe we're a little underprepared! For one, Kirst will have to quit her brand new job. (We're both going to try and plug the Zemeckis connection for writing gigs in the area.) I'm on a month-to-month lease so that's not an issue. Who knows, this could be a net benefit for us as well as Claire. But still, it's all really sudden and we've got a lot of work and preparation to do.

How did this happen? Three weeks ago scouts visited a bunch of day cares in Oakland County - none of us even knew this was going to happen - and Claire's was one of them. I'm going to assume that Claire was being the ON version of herself that day because they've told us out of all the Oakland County Schools, she was the only kid they followed up on. Then they contacted us to set up auditions. They wanted to do them the weekend of Kirst's move and I wasn't really taking it seriously and just told them I couldn't. But they insisted on doing it as soon as possible and so we did them last Tuesday and then again on Friday. Claire stayed ON, which I still don't understand (she must have some kind of ambition we didn't know about), and we got the callback Friday saying probably and Sunday saying definitely. It's insane.

I'll be posting about these crazy events as they happen. It should make for a few great reads. I feel like I'm forgetting a lot and I'm sure I am. To me, as crazy as all of this is, it somehow makes sense in the context of my life. And in the crazy life that Kirsten and I are building with Claire.

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