"It's nice to meet you, Emilia. How have you been?" June smiled at the middle-aged lady sitting on the couch in front of her.
"It's been a while since we last met. I have been fine. What about you?"
"Same old," June smiled, "How was the ride? Thank you so much for taking some time out for me."
Emilia shook her head, "The ride was fine. And no need to say thanks, I have been bored for the last few weeks. And when I saw your message to schedule a lunch to discuss something important, I was genuinely surprised. What is it, June? What have you been up to recently?"
June smiled, "Well, I have been busy with the shooting."
"Oh, what kind of movie are you working on this time?"
"Horror?" Emilia nodded upon hearing this, "I gotta say, horror is your lucky charm. Which studio is producing this movie?"
June gave an awkward chuckle, "Well, it's just to say it's a new production house, and the budget is also quite low."
"Oh," Emilia frowned, "What made you agree then? The script must have had something for sure."
"Yeah, I liked the idea, hopefully, the audience likes it too."
The frown on Emilia's face loosened, "Fingers crossed. But a low-budget horror movie? Are you planning to replicate Will's success?"
June didn't have an answer for it. And seeing her silent, Emilia leaned forward a bit, "Well, if it's not you, then maybe it's the director. Who's directing this movie?"
June remained silent.
"Uh, Ahem," Clearing her throat, she replied, "Well, I am the director."
"Oh? wait, what?"
"Yes." June gave a weak smile, "I am directing the movie."
Emilia stared at her, "Really?"
"Are you acting in this movie?"
"No? June, aren't you an actress?"
"But you want to direct movies?"
"Yes?" June shrugged, "I can't direct movies?"
"No, dear, of course you can," Emilia shook her head, "But aren't you the person who once told me you want to act for your whole life? Then why did you give up on your dream? Did you forget the years of struggle you had to go through just to get a few small roles and your lucky break into the [The Blair Witch Project]?"
"Then, what compelled you to start a production house and become a director?"
June sighed, "Is this even important? Are you not interested in hearing why we're meeting here?"
Emilia nodded, "I am. But I am more curious about what's going on in your mind."
"Nothing's going on." June shook her head.
Emilia smiled, "No, a person who's about to accomplish her dream doesn't give up at the last moment. Something must have happened, and I am concerned about you, June."
June shook her head, "Nothing happened."
"Is it Will?" Emilia didn't beat the bush anymore.
Actually, she already knew what June was up to these days, and there was already some speculation about this among the fans. One of the reasons Emilia had decided to accept June's invitation was because of this reason itself. She wanted to make sure everything was alright.
And when Emilia mentioned Will's name, June shook her head.
"No, it has nothing to do with Will. He never interrupted my career, in fact, he's the reason why I am where I am."
Emilia smiled, "I think it has everything to do with Will."
"What do you mean?" June frowned, "I just told you—"
"June," Emilia interrupted, "We have known each other for almost three years now. Even though we only were part of one project, we have become good friends and trust me when I say this, I think I somewhat understand you. And let's be honest, I was aware of what you were doing, I just wanted to know the reason from you."
"There is no reason." June replied, "I just want to do it."
"Really? Is it not because you are chasing Will?"
"...what do you mean?"
"I mean exactly what I said." Emilia replied, "From what I see, you don't see yourself as someone worth Will's attention. And that's why you have given up on your dream and want to focus on getting the 'right' to stand on equal grounds as him."
"…" June remained silent.
She wanted to deny Emilia's words, but somewhere in her heart, she knew what her friend was saying was true.
And seeing June's reaction, Emilia knew she had hit the mark.
But she wasn't here to fan the flames. Rather, she was genuinely worried about the former. June might be half her age, but Emilia felt they both had a similar mindset, and that was also why they hit it off so well together.
And now, seeing her dear friend like this, she had to talk to her about this.
"June," Emilia put her palm over June's, "You're being too judgemental on yourself. You're as good as you have to be. I am not here to make you change your mind about getting back to acting. Instead, I want you to not make it a trial or a test for yourself to see if you're worthy."
"But I… I don't know."
"June, understand what I am trying to say. If he didn't think you weren't good for him, would he have kept you by his side for all these years?"
June lowered her head, "But have you seen how much hate I get? I never bring up this topic. Not do I act like it's bothering me, but it does. I am a human, after all. I did nothing wrong, yet there are many haters. And it's not even because of my professional work. Rather it's because of my personal life.
"Will and I have been together for quite a long time now. And not that I am insecure about my relationship, but because of me, he bears also has to bear the criticism. They say Will can do anything right, but he lacks in making personal choices."
"You really think Will ever thought about what others think about him and you?" Emilia stared at the former, "Are you letting the words of internet strangers affect you?"
"I try my best not to let them."
"June…" Emilia smiled at her, "You're a strong woman, and strong people have a strong sense of self-worth and self-awareness; they don't need the approval of others."
June nodded as Emilia continued.
"And once you recognise your self-worth, nothing can diminish your confidence."
June smiled, "Thank you."
Emilia shrugged, "I just had to talk to you about this. Again, I am sorry if I put you in a spot. What you're doing is not wrong, but it's the mindset with which you're going at it. Think of it as an adventure, not a trial."
Emilia then leaned back on her chair and said, "Alright, now that this is out of the way, let's deal with the elephant in the room. Why did you wish to meet me so urgently?"
June cleared her throat, "Well, I want you to become part of the movie which I have shot."
"I can't act to save my life," Emilia chuckled.
June shook her head, "I want you to edit the footage."
"Yes. The movie I have shot is of the horror genre."
"Oh," Emilia frowned, "what kind of footage."
"...found footage?" Emilia raised her eyebrow, "Blair Witch?"
"Yeah, something like that." June replied, "But it's more about a couple moving into a new house and then deciding to put cameras throughout the house after finding some strange things happening throughout the block."
Emilia asked, "That's intriguing. What's the movie called?"
"Paranormal Activity." June replied, "The budget is low, but I am very confident in this one."
Emilia took a breath and replied, "Alright. I will have a look. How many hours of footage do you have?"
"More than 60 hours," June replied, "Two months later is the film festival, I was hoping we can make a submission by the end of this month."
Emilia nodded, "Alright, let's have a look at it after lunch. Who are the actors, by the way?"
"I am going with new actors," June replied, "I have learned a lot from the Blair Witch shooting, so I am trying to implement those ideas in this movie too."
Emilia nodded, "As long as there's no blatant copying to the plot, we're good to go."
Dream Vision Studio.
The lift opened on the fifth floor, and a young man walked out.
He was in his late twenties and was wearing a formal dress, although his hair was a bit unkempt.
As soon as he stepped in, many pairs of eyes turned toward him.
There was a reception table at the end, and beside it were five men of his age.
They stared at him emotionlessly. With a gulp, he trodded forward and walked to the reception.
"I am here for an audition."
"Ah, welcome. Please fill this form here." The receptionist took out a form, "And take a seat."
"May I know your name and the part you're here to audition for?"
"I am Oliver Leblanc Queen." The young man replied, "I am here to audition for the part of Joey Tribbiani for the [Friends] sitcom."
I have not forgotten the bonus chapter which is due from last week. I just need time to get my life straight, because something always comes up whenever I try to get back to old writing schedule. And because of the win-win, and wsa, I can't even prioritise MHS before my other two books or else they will lose the chance to get features.