Unfortunately, I haven't had much time for playing or hanging out with my dolls as I would have liked to have this summer, considering I've been having to spend so much time on my screenplay. But lately, I've been reminiscing about how much they helped me through my life, and I came to a pretty interesting conclusion about how my American Girl doll obsession led to this filmmaking career I have chosen to embark on.
You know how it feels when you get to play with your dolls? You pick out what doll you want to play with. You style her hair, dress her in a nice outfit, and take her to whatever accessory you feel like playing with. You get to play out whatever story you feel like putting your doll through. Does Maryellen want to go to the diner today? Sure, she can go to the diner. Does Corinne want to ski? Of course she can ski! Do you want Tenney and Logan to go on a date? That can happen, too! (And I made it happen. It's the most viewed video on my YouTube channel, even though I made it five and a half years ago.)
But overall, you're able to make pretty much whatever you want happen with your doll happen, and you can act out those stories with your dolls through play. And writing is kind of the same thing! You're able to think about what problem you want your characters to have - even in play, dolls can have problems, such as Y2K coming for Isabel and Nicki, struggling with school like Kavi, even the Great Depression and World War 2. You come up with what you want your character - your doll - will do about it. You are able to make your own setting - your own playset that you can play with.
Every movie made is just someone playing with their own dolls, with their own playset, with their own story that they want their dolls to live in. Unfortunately, since there aren't many female directors and writers out there, and the ones that do exist aren't much of doll collectors, no one has really made that connection yet.
For years, I pretty much LIVED that connection by making American Girl stopmotions. I knew that when I grew up, I would want to become a filmmaker. And now that I'm growing up and getting closer to making that filmmaking dream a reality, with people at Hollywood agencies actually talking to me about my first script (pinch me! Also yeah that's why I took down the Rebelle AGSM - sorry guys I'll put it back up once the real movie is done), I'm thinking about how much American Girl got me to this point. Both in the literal sense of "my final AGSM movie was the starting point for my first real movie", and the figurative sense of "Wow. Playing with dolls is pretty much why I love filmmaking."
And that's exactly what I want to do. I want to play dolls for the rest of my life. Literally, of course, but figuratively, I want to play dolls with actors and a film crew, and be able to play in all kinds of playsets - from the more mature ones that American Girl would never sell, to the wondrous fantasies of more family-friendly ones, from the ideas that I come up with on my own and turn into my own dolls and sets, to the sets that would come from other people's ideas (Mattel and Zagtoon, please call me when I become a real filmmaker!)
But the point is, for me, I just realized why I love writing and filmmaking so much. And I'm tearing up writing this post, because I know that thanks to this decade of loving American Girl, I have been able to discover my purpose in life.
I love filmmaking. I love American Girl dolls. And I love them both for the same exact reason. And I want them both in my life for the rest of my life.