I got a message from Stu.
We weren’t close, but we’d have random conversations at church.
He was directing EXAM which he’d written and was producing himself – with money he’d made screenwriting for Hollywood.
It did well and won a BAFTA Award nomination for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer.
Stuart was one of those rarities. A British screenwriter who had done what most British screenwriters considered their ultimate goal / desire / dream…. he had broken through the walls of Hollywood.
And now he was directing his own script – Exam.
I remember him telling me at The Six o’clock service at SPOS that he’d just cast such and such an actor…who was supposed to be the next big thing.
And I remember thinking:
I’m the next big thing, mofo, and you can’t even see it.
Even then, I was still sure, somewhere, deep down in my heart, one day I would return to my acting career and become a movie star.
At least in Cambodia I could continue to develop my screenwriting skills.
I’d just won 3rd place in a South West Screen screenwriting competition and had received my prize from Mike Leigh at the London Screenwriters Festival.
But, as much as I loved acting, I had made peace with my inner self. I was about to set sail for Cambodia, give up the dream of becoming a professional actor and serve Jesus doing what I could to combat child sex trafficking.
Was there any job more important? I couldn’t think of one. To me, what I was going to Cambodia to do was the ultimate heroism.
I received a message from Stuart.
He had a friend in Cambodia who could maybe help me when I arrived…
I didn’t think, in 7 years time, I would write to him begging for help, destitute and dying on Phnom Penh’s dirty, polluted, drug addicted streets… breaking bad in Cambodia…a missionary on meth…
And that in Cambodia…I, myself, would be examined…