March 06, 2007

15 Seconds

By Dan Keston © 2007

This year I accomplished one of my life's goals when I got a movie into competition at the Sundance Film Festival.

With minimal experience and a microscopic budget, I found a way to make a movie about kids and guns that was not only interesting enough to be one of sixteen selections out of five-thousand entries at the most prestigious festival in the world, but also the topic of a story on NPR and the lovechild of the largest gun lobby in Washington. And outside of the excruciating experience of watching this disturbing film with my parents (and subsequently my wife's parents) and the less than stellar reviews of film critics, the approval of Midwestern teenagers and the division of Lionsgate that bought it made me feel that this MIGHT just be one of my fifteen seconds of fame.

Or at least it was a MIGHT until, during a party that was kicking into gear at about 2:00AM on the first Saturday, P. Diddy, Mos Def, Pharell, and Damon Dash, while rapping on stage, started simultaneously chanting the name of my movie to the crowd while the crowd screamed it back. That was the moment when the MIGHT became a SURE.

Now a few weeks later, with the Park City dust and my nerves all settled, I can't help but think about all of the things that have happened in my life and, more importantly, how many of my fifteen seconds I may have already used up.

Conversely, I wonder how many I might have left.

I know that I used up a second during the 1984 AYSO soccer city semifinals, that's for sure. As the star center forward on the Meteors and goal scoring L'Enfant terrible of the Pacific Palisades league, I was so good that one of the coaches in the junior league sent his cadre of 8-year olds to watch me play so that they could learn how to score. It was wonderful – not necessarily wonderful to peak athletically at 11 – but wonderful to be honored for my prowess at such as a young age.

Anyway, it was a still a one – one tie in the semis with Culver City after overtime, so despite our "2-4-6-8-who-do-we-appreciate" effort it came down to penalty kicks. Squared at four PKs apiece, it came down a single last kicker. Me.

It was surreal. I think Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings” was playing. The only motion was slow. I looked left and shot right. The goalie let out a fractured nooooooo!!!!! but it was too late. The team rushed me. The Meteors had moved on.

But a second was gone.

I also remember being 16-years-old and sitting on a beach in Antigua with a half-naked girl named Tara. I was there for the summer with eleven other American kids, helping the tiny island rebuild itself after Hurricane Hugo. All morning I would build fences and dig ditches (which is odd because I am Jewish), but in the afternoons, we had free reign over the isolated, endless beaches that stretched back and forth across the coast (before massive hotels would take it away).

Tara was half Indian, half hot something else. Who cares, I don't even remember. What I do remember, however, is sitting alone behind a dune with nary a soul anywhere in sight and an entire beach to myself making out with my first love.

That had to be a second, too.

Then there was the day when the advertising agency I was working for asked me to kill the Taco Bell dog (people liked the Chihuahua but the commercials made them think Taco Bell was dog meat, which of course, it is). How f-ing cool is it to be the guy who killed the Taco Bell dog?

I'd say one second cool.

And this year, at some point, my wife is going get pregnant and then have a baby - which I'm sure will be absolutely "magical" - and if I don't appropriate a second for that I'll never hear the end of it.

That's five seconds right there…almost gone. And as I relish my Sundances, score my goals, kiss my loves, kill my icons, and raise my family, I gain memories that make me happy but ultimately sadder because one-by-one I lose my dreams... they become experiences... and will never happen again. At least not in the same way.

I have 15 seconds. The countdown has begun.

Dan Keston is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.

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