Say Goodbye to Cole Abaius — Why I’m Dropping My Pen Name
This is going to boring. So watch out.
I’m sitting on the edge of a 2-month-old couch from IKEA that has a convenient little tray attachment for coffee or the light kind of laptops that won’t be built for another 4 years. It’s brown. If that matters.
It’s August 2006, and I’m fresh off the boat in Los Angeles — dumb enough to get a decent apartment and to think I’ll be working in production by the end of the year. I’m looking at my 476th Craigslist posting about movie jobs/gigs/free work/desperation and an honest notice from some schlub in Ohio is asking for film-passionate folks to write for his blog.
There are two things to know here. One, I thought the idea of writing movie reviews would be excellent daily practice for a skill I was trying to develop (and still am). Two, I’ll never really know why I responded to Neil Miller’s posting in particular. Maybe because it was different, or because I was almost auto-responding to any and all work at the time (including a porno shoot that told me all my PA duties would be normal…until I asked for the third time and talk of “washing equipment” came into play), or because the horribly designed blue layout spoke to the Picasso/Miles Davis fan in me.
But I responded, and Neil set me up on the site. I don’t even remember him asking for a writing sample in those days.
I only had one strange provision: I wanted to use a pen name.
Here’s where I wish I had a really fascinating story, but I just don’t. Over the years, my pen name (Cole Abaius) and real name (Scott Beggs) have been open secrets (guests on the podcast often called me “Scott” during shows), so I’ve had a lot of people ask about it. Unfortunately, the story is this: sitting on that cheap IKEA couch somewhere north of Wilshire but west of Normandy, I wanted a pen name because of the slim chance of losing a job because of my critic work.
It was naive and silly and it’s stuck with me. Although I’ve heard of a few awkward situations for crew members who also write reviews without fake names, I can’t ever really justify choosing one beyond youthful idiocy.
So since there’s no knee-shaking excitement to the backstory, I offer you a few fake stories to choose from that you might like better.
I’m switching back to using my real name on FSR because:
- The final member of the Stony Creek Lithuanian crime family I testified against all those years ago is finally dead.
- “Cole Abaius” is a real person who was just outed by Fox News as a CIA operative, and I just can’t deal with the hassle right now.
- Smoke monster.
So there you have it. By the end of 2006, I was writing for Film School Rejects as Cole Abaius and working as a PA on various fashion shoots, commercials and music videos as Scott Beggs. I started production coordinating and would end up working an Oscar ceremony and standing guard over the Iron Man set before I left Los Angeles. I was still dumb to pay for a decent apartment, though.
I’ve officially changed my name to my real name. “Cole Abaius” is no more, so make sure you’re following @scottmbeggs, emailing email@example.com and don’t get too weirded out when you see my name next to Cole’s picture on the site. It’ll feel like putting on a wet tuxedo at first, but we’ll all get used to it.
The point is, I never did go work for that porno shoot.