|Posted by johnnieraz on March 9, 2025 at 6:00 AM|
By John Rezell
Late December more than a few years ago when I was substitute teaching, I had this dream:
I'm subbing and this dude is following me around, peeking in windows, hiding behind bushes. Finally he shows himself. It's Jim Carrey. The actor Jim Carrey.
Now, I have a celebrity in my dreams about once every 10 years or so. So when I get a cameo, it gets my attention.
Carrey walks up to me sitting on the bench at the playground during recess, and says he's doing a movie on substitute teachers. He wants to get the inside scoop. I say, sure, no problem. Just give me a call. I give him my phone number. He walks away, and the kid next to me says, "Why didn't you tell him about your script?"
I say, well, I haven't really written it yet (and it's all formulating in my head as I'm saying this in the dream). The kid, by the name of Ryan, is in a fifth grade class I've subbed for. Ryan says, "You know it's great. Just tell him about it."
The dream ends. I wake up buzzing. I start writing like a maniac. I write the first 35 minutes/pages of the script. It's Jim Carrey coming to school looking for a sub, and he runs into me, Mr. Raz. I write a scene that really happened to me as a sub, with Ryan, since the whole script is based on true experiences, depending on how you label a dream, whether it's a true experience or not.
The major scene I write is when I took Ryan's class down to music. A few minutes later, one of the trouble makers is getting hauled off to the office by the music teacher, so my class is in there alone with their recorders (we called them saxettes).
I go in, and restore order. Ryan has the attention span of a gnat. Always goofing around. Nice kid, but he has these issues and kids always picks on him. So I conduct them. To their amazement I know how to conduct with a baton. We play Jingle Bells.
Ryan is screwing off like he's Clarence Clemons, so I ask him if he'd like to come up and play in front of the class. He says, "YES!!"
So he gets up, and plays a great version of Jingle Bells. Then he asks to play another. I say yes. He plays Amazing Grace nearly perfect, with dynamics and everything. The class, who knows he's the top screwball, erupts in spontaneous applause. A standing O. They're amped as well as shocked.
I use it as a chance to point out that everyone has their special interest and talent. Life is all about finding your place. And I tell them someday they'll pay 50 or 100 bucks to see Ryan play his sax or piano or guitar or whatever. Ryan is, it appears for the first time, the toast of the class. He's beaming with pride like I've never seen before. He's on a cloud.
Back to real time, I'm writing like crazy. I finish that scene in the script. I decide to take a breather. I mean, this whole thing is just ripping from my fingers like magic.
I figure, I need a break. Heck, I don't know anything about Jim Carrey, other than what I've seen in his movies. So I better do some research on the Internet. The first page I call up is this page.
And I read this quote from Jim Carrey:
"It started in second grade. I was in music class and we were practicing for the Christmas assembly. One day I started fooling around by mocking the musicians on a record. The teacher thought she'd embarrass me by making me get up and do what was doing in front of the whole class. So I went up and did it. She laughed, and the whole class went nuts. My teacher asked me to do my routine for the Christmas assembly, and I did. That was the beginning of the end."
- Jim Carrey
I nearly passed out. I have to write this script, I thought. The cosmos is talking to me. To have my own Amazing Grace moment like Carrey's at school with someone is wild enough. For it to be at Christmas time with a Christmas song? Really? Pinch me.
Well, you know me. I follow my own path. So suddenly I take a normal, everyday story that everyone would reject as too simple, and the next thing you know, I'm writing about everything else bizarro that's ever happened to me since I'm basing the whole damn thing on my life.
There are so many unexplainable moments like the Carrey connection that have made my life so amazingly fun to live, yet so impossible for anyone to believe. I packed a lot of it into that script. All about that fine line between reality and fantasy, where nothing can top walking that tightrope. I live on that tightrope.