I wish you could hear his laugh. As booming as his blue eyes are set deep in the well that cradles his genius, it’s magnetic. Meet Scott Rolfe. Actor, Screenwriter, Playwright, Movie Producer and friend of mine.
Housed in a video arcade of old, our interview is surrounded by nostalgia and noise. More than accommodating, Scott is neither disturbed or distracted by either. Seated across from me, he graciously fields every question as though it were the one he had been waiting on for some time. Honored to journey with him and humbled to share glimpses of life through his lens…
Tell us who you are, what you do and what you want to do.
I am Scott Rolfe. Right now, I am a Certified Special Ed teacher. However, I began substitute teaching in the last year to focus on my writing. What I want to do and what the Lord has called me to do is to write full time. I felt the Lord calling me to take a risk and pursue the dream of writing and telling stories for a living. Writing is His greatest talent He gave me. It felt like a risk because I started this at age 44. I should have been 24! I’m Director of Development for Athena Pictures and I’m also head writer for Uppermost Entertainment; both are in Dallas TX. With Uppermost, I have a play coming out in July. Tickets just went on sale last week! Just go to www.ImAlwaysOnMyMind.com, the show runs on the weekends from July 24 – October 31, 2015.
Awesome, awesome, awesome! So you mentioned “writer” and you mentioned “director”…
No I’m not a director, I’m a writer and a movie producer…
Hmm ok so what does a movie producer do exactly?
It’s a very generic term. There could be a million different reasons for the term “producer”.
And in your case?
In my case, I put the parties together. And so I’m the connector, the guy who fits the pieces of the puzzle together and make it work. If they come up with a deal, I’m a full producer on the film. Now in this case, I put all the people together and I also oversee all the scripts for Athena Pictures, which means I help develop them into screenplays.
So how does that work with you being a writer and then you’re a person helping to develop screenplays? Isn’t that kind of similar?
What I do is I use my skills as a crafter of story. I’ve been writing since I was age 5. Most people who are professionals at something, regardless of what it is, start at a young age. It takes 10,000 hours for you to perform something and be considered a professional at it. My Dad was a professional writer. He started off as an actor. My parents met on the stage…
Oh cool! Your Mom was also an actress?
Yes, so I owe my life to the theatre.
What is it that inspired you to follow that path? I know it’s in your blood but there are a lot of things that our parents do, that we don’t necessarily ascribe to. What was it that made it attractive for you to begin writing at 5 and then continue as an adult?
When I was a kid, all I did was watch TV and movies because I have Cerebral Palsy. I would always go the movies. My Mother called me “the dreamer”. She’d say, “Why are you doing that? It’s not going to get you anywhere in life. How’s that going to help you?” And I’d say, “Don’t worry!” and I’d just sit there, look at her and shrug my shoulders. She would just shake her head. So I just spent hours watching films as a kid. My Dad knew that I had the talent, so he made me write articles all the time. If it were something on TV, he would say, “Write this as if you’re covering the event”, whether it was the news, sports…anything. He would make me sit and write and he would teach me how to edit it. It was then that I fell in love with storytelling. The mind is wired to tell stories, which is why Jesus used parables to illustrate His points. People remember it.
Ok so was it rough draft, 1st draft, that kind of drilling, or what was his pattern? What type of method did he use?
It was the writing process, which is “all writing is rewriting”. So you do it one time, then again and again. Sort of like an artist with a mold of clay. Well, you’re a songwriter so you understand. The first time you write a song, which I had to do for the play I’m Always On My Mind, the first time I wrote it, it was really bad! But I knew I could make it better, even though I’m not a professional songwriter. I told them, “I’m glad your standards are so low for this song!!” but they liked it. It’s a comedy so hopefully it’ll work!
But it’s just like molding clay. Just like the Lord molds us. As people, every experience molds us. That’s the way the creative process works. Regardless if its a musician or whatever. Artist, writer, actor…it’s all a process.
You are also an actor. How did you get into acting, evolving as a writer?
Acting helps. As a writer, it really helps me as an actor because I understand the actor’s process. I also know how to write, hopefully in a creative way, that will give the actor some meat on the bones. I encourage all writers who are not actors to go and take an acting class. Whether it’s improv, whatever and see how the process works ’cause that’s gonna help them as a writer.
I have a friend who’s an actress and a playwright that I’ve been working with to help raise Suicide Awareness through the Arts. She has challenged me to stretch outside my writing style comfort zone quite a bit. Through her, I’ve not only learned to have more respect for the craft, I’ve come to better understand the breadth of writing. For example, someone who writes a book but is unable to convey that same message as a screenwriter. So, what are your thoughts on different types of writing and do you have any advice for new writers on how to respect and recognize the differences?
Well it’s a major difference… Sort of like apples and oranges. In writing a play each word matters. Every word the actor uses conveys the story and reflects the personality of that character. That’s why writers of plays are treated like a king. They are. It is THE craft for a writer. No higher honor than to have your play produced. In film, the writer has no control. Film is a visual medium. Words get in the way. Plus, all writers are kicked off their script if done by a Hollywood studio. Major screenwriters get kicked off scripts. In movies, writers are disposable.
For new writers… I would advise that they read everything they can. I’m constantly reading the work of good writers. I encourage this so they pick up what they can. They should read not only the classicssuch as Ernest Hemingway and Neil Simon but for example people like my neighbor Skip Hollandsworth who writes for Texas Monthly. The 2011 film Bernie, starring Jack Black was based on a true story he covered as a reporter called “Midnight in the Garden of East Texas“.
I would tell new writers, to write. Write as much as you can because that continually makes you better. The hard thing for writers is they think their words are great when they’re not. So you have to teach yourself…(say) even though it’s my writing, I know I can make it better. Not sitting there with the first thing you write and say, “Oh it’s great!”. No, it’s probably not. But that’s Ok! You’ve got to be willing and ready to separate your ego from your writing. E.G.O meaning “Edging God Out”! You got to learn how to separate your ego from your work, and that’s very hard for writers to do.
Scott I love that! “You’ve got to learn how to separate your ego from your work”. Is that a lesson you learned from the school of hard knocks or a lesson you’re still learning?
It’s a lesson I learned a long time ago from Dr. Wayne Dyer. I’ve read every one of his books. His book Your Sacred Self, which I read about 18 years ago really struck a chord with me at the time and that was the start of my process. What you see before you today, has been part of a 20 year process. I needed to be molded and the Lord had to take out my impurities. And He’s still working on that!! (Scott then erupts into his signature roar of a laugh)
++ I thoroughly enjoyed talking with Scott, hence his entire interview could not be captured in one post! Tune in next time when he delves more into growing up with Cerebral Palsy, his desire to help raise awareness about it and how it affects his work…or doesn’t!
In the meantime…
Connect with Scott on Facebook!
Connect with Scott on Stage 32!
© Ericka Arthur and authenticitee, 2015
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Photo Credit: Ericka Arthur