If anyone had told me that my very different young adult twins would BOTH venture out of our nest into the movie business, I’d have said: “Impossible!” 

     Max and Sarah are NOT your garden variety fraternal twins, separated only by gender. Sarah’s early childhood diagnosis of an autistic spectrum disorder caused my twins to grow up in vastly different worlds. While Sarah struggled academically and socially in special schools, Max enrolled in a gifted program and made friends easily. Sarah was endlessly jealous of her brother; Max was forever embarrassed by his sister. Still, they always loved each other, but mostly from a distance—the greater, the better—to maintain family peace.
   Flash forward to age 22, when Sarah was cast as the female lead in a short film, Keep the Change, and “discovered” at the JCC’s Adaptations Program for young adults with disabilities. (See “Sarah’s Next Fifteen Minutes,” 5/30/14).  At the same time, Max graduated from Vassar in 2013 as a film major and began working seriously on a screenplay with a friend he met in rehab –after both of them became sober.  Max had joked about his twin sister having the first screen credit, but he was truly proud of her success (and perhaps even the tiniest bit jealous?) However, the pendulum swung back when Sarah graduated from Pace in 2014 and she was unable to find any job, internship or volunteer position for an entire year. Rachel Israel, director of Keep the Change, had been struggling to raise the money to expand her short film—which had won awards and been featured in film festivals—but at first no investors came forward. The script Max and his friend’s had written about rehab was presented and rejected by every television network.  End of story, right?

tickets to Being Charlie at TIFF

    Hardly!  Max and his friend, Nick, spent a year rewriting their television script into a feature film called Being Charlie, which was sold to Castle Rock Entertainment. They labored over revisions while waiting and hoping for financing.   Finally, in February 2015, their dream came true when the financing fell into place.  Max quit his day job at AOL and flew to Los Angeles to polish the script with Nick and Rob Reiner, also becoming involved with casting, locations and costumes.  Suddenly, my son, age 24, and his friend, age 22, were on the set of THEIR movie while it was shot in Salt Lake City and LA!  It seemed almost too good to be true, like winning the lottery twice, but hey, sometimes “you gotta believe.”

Nick, Rachel, Sarah and Will at the disabilities parade.
     If that wasn’t enough to make any mom burst with pride, Sarah was busy this summer helping with a crowdfunding campaign for HER movie, Keep the Change,  which also—miraculously—succeeded in raising the money necessary to start shooting here in New York in mid-August.  As Sarah’s film began shooting here, we learned that Max and Nick’s film, Being Charlie, had been accepted to the Toronto Film Festival!  How many times can lightning strike?  Even our family nest was temporarily redesigned to look like a kooky grandmother’s house (“Nest Transformations,” 9/2/15) and had a cameo role in Sarah’s movie.
Max on the red carpet!

           Last week I was unable to write a blog because Henry and I were in Toronto watching Being Charlie premiere to a sold out crowd in a theater that held 1,100 people.  As Max’s mom, I clearly can’t be objective about the movie.  What I can say is that Being Charlie contained all of the ingredients I believe make a film great: a well-crafted story of redemption where the main characters grow in addition to sharp dialogue that inspired a balance of laughter and tears. The audience gave it a standing ovation. (Never mind that the critics were less complimentary. As a writer, I know how much easier—and more fun—it is to criticize others’ art than create your own!)).  Henry and I were floating on clouds—from watching our son up on stage during the Q and A session with Nick, Rob Reiner and the entire cast—to mingling with them at the cast party. Someone asked for my Max’s autograph! A teacher from the mid-west told him and Nick she thought the film should be shown in every high school.
Q and A at premiere of Being Charlie at the Toronto Film Festival. Mas is 4th from left.

     We flew home (yes, in an airplane) to New York just in time to attend the wrap party for Sarah’s film. Now that I’m back to my ordinary life, it’s hard to believe that my twins—so completely different from each other—would both be in movies, one as a writer and the other as co-star—at the same time. Of course, Max has moved to LA while Sarah continues to live in New York, so my twins are as far apart from each other as possible while still living in the continental US.  I can’t help but feel sad that our family is separated, and my twins continue to have a distant (but oddly parallel) relationship.  Still I’m hoping one day they’ll find a way to connect more deeply. Or perhaps they already have?  Before Max left for Toronto, he visited Sarah while she was shooting and then ate dinner with her and her friends on the spectrum.  My daughter was delighted. Could it be that sharing the magical experience of movie-making will bring my twins together one day?  A mother can only hope. After all, from my perspective, I see two beautiful and distinct shooting stars, crossing overhead in the same vast sky.

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