the first of many film
In 1971 a young, naïve every-girl PAMELA is led into an unusual audition room by a very friendly, pretty blond woman SUE who’s a few years older. Pamela is there for her very first audition as a professional actress. She notices the very impressive camera and is just so excited to be there and have this opportunity to star in her second movie. The first was a student-produced feature “Pamela and Ian” but this was the big leagues. She’s understandably nervous so when Sue asks for her things, her purse and jacket, not wanting to offend, she turns them over . Sue tells her to relax and that PATRICK the director will be in soon. Pamela is so excited as she looks in the mirror to make sure she doesn’t have the little bit of lipstick she wears on her teeth, that she doesn’t even take notice of the mattress on the floor.
Patrick, a rather odd-looking fellow with long hair and bad teeth, enters the room, greets her and they engage in pre-audition small talk. He finds out she’s far from home and proceeds to try to impress her with his accomplishments. He reveals that Sue has gone and he will be reading opposite her. She gently complains that she’s not seen the audition material to work on it. He allays her fears.
Patrick gives her the audition sides. He adjusts the lights and camera giving her time to look at the material. He asks her to take off her glasses which she hands over to him and we see that from her point of view everything is fuzzy. She’s really quite blind without them.
Patrick says “Action” and they read the scene. He says “Cut” and then manipulates her into taking off her clothes as any ‘professional’ actress would. Reluctantly she does and when they begin reading the scene again she hears, but does not see, him drop his pants. He wants to “see how she reacts when the other actor is naked.” Upset, Pamela stops the audition and he then pushes her off the audition chair and out of frame. “You know what happens next.”
Afterward Pamela sobbing, dresses and Patrick who has left the room brings back her jacket and purse . He tells her the part is between her and one other actress but that her work was spectacular. Pamela is much changed and can hardly suppress her tears. She leaves.
We learn from the end cards that Patrick was actually composer-filmmaker Joseph Brooks who won an Academy Award in 1977 for “You Light Up My Life,” the same year Pamela had a nervous breakdown. We learn that she continued to pursue an acting career that was hindered by deep-seated fear until in 2013 she discovered his true identity as a serial rapist. Armed with that knowledge she began to heal the psychic wound, won the lead in an indie film and awards for her work.
the first of many film
The events portrayed in the film happened to me as you see them. When I walked out of that audition room I told my boyfriend and my two best friends and did my best from then on not to ever think about it again. I was so embarrassed and ashamed that I silenced myself. After all, I willing took off my clothes after the director convinced me it was a necessary prerequisite to winning the role. How did I not know to get out of there sooner? How could I let something like that happen to me? I suddenly lost all faith in myself.
From that point on I went from being a high-achieving scholarship student at the University of Michigan, fearless and self-confident ,to the opposite. I was a dance minor who stopped dancing. The psychological changes in me were subtle and I gradually just came to accept once I was out of school, living in the big cities of New York and Los Angeles, that I became easily intimidated and shy. I buried the memory, suffered from bouts of depression and never associated what problems I had with that “audition” in 1971. I never stopped wanting to be an actress and a few roles came my way but I never had the kind of career I wanted. I limped along through life until….
I happened upon a New York Magazine article on the internet “The Curious Case of Joseph and Nicholas Brooks (LINK) . As I read a flood of recognition overtook me and I knew Joseph was my attacker and that I most likely was “the first of many.”
With that gift of recognition I began to take the actions a woman in her 60’s could that the young me couldn’t. I sought legal help. I filed a lawsuit against his estate (he’d killed himself awaiting trial in Manhattan.) I spoke out about it, giving interviews and telling my story in public forums. I spoke to the DA who prosecuted him. I finally told my therapist about it. I ripped the lid off my psyche, opened the wound, wrote this screenplay, won an award for it and so decided with my brilliant daughter’s help to produce and direct this film., the most healing action of all. My daughter wanted to portray me and watching her go through what I did, was the final step in my journey toward healing, With tears streaming down my face behind the monitor, I truly learned in that moment that it wasn’t my fault.
All through this process I’ve found that whenever I told someone my story, some similar event has either happened to them or to someone they love and no one was talking about it. It’s my hope that this film starts the conversation wherever it’s shown.