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Friday, October 24, 2008

Final Guest Blog: Hilary Graham

So, where to begin? My trip to LA is coming to a close and I am totally exhausted by it all, but my mind is also racing from all that I’ve seen, done, and learned this week. First and foremost, I want to say that any of you who entered the Silver Screenwriting Contest this year and didn’t win—enter again next year. You WANT to win this prize. The cash is nice, sure, but the real prize has been this trip. Not only have Julie, Andrew, and Margaux set up tons fabulous meetings with producers and A-List screenwriters (Blake Snyder, Steve Faber, David Arata) they been amazing supporters of my script and my career in general. When I was complaining yesterday of how I don’t really have any writing community in NH that I can bounce ideas off of, Julie said to me in her nurturing way, “that’s what we’re here to do for you.” Clearly, The Script Department is more than just your average script consulting service. Sure, they’ll give you great notes, but they are devoted to shepherding writers in every aspect of this business. I now have a team of talented, insightful WRITERS behind me who actually have a stake in helping to pave the way for my success. I absolutely cannot underestimate the importance of that kind of thing. Talk about priceless. Thanks to them I am more than just a name of on cover page to a slew of working producers in this town. Shit, I had dinner with a friggin’ Academy Award nominated screenwriter last night (David Arata). Some of the relationships I made here this week (thanks to Julie and the gang) may just be the very thing that breaks my career.

Oh, and just one last point about how full-service they have been in crafting my Whirlwind Adventure in Hollywood. Leaving no stone unturned, they also made sure I was in all the hip LA places inhabited by a Successful Screenwriter so that for these few days I was actually living in that world. From drinks with Blake Snyder at Chateau Marmont, to lunch with the Script Department at fancy-shmancy dining room on the Paramount lot where we sat across from Tony Shalhoub. (By the way, I highly recommend the grilled scallop and peach salad.) Oh, and a special shout-out to Margaux who was kind enough to take me to the soundstage where they were shooting her episode of PRIVILEGED. So much fun to watch them rehearse!

Okay, dinner with David Arata. The man has a great energy—calm, thoughtful, sweet. He was humble and encouraging, and his take on this business couldn’t have been more different than Steve Faber’s. Two different successful writers - two different takes. So, what’s the lesson here? That there is no one set path to make your way in Hollywood. One thing David said that I found interesting was that, “there’s no place to rest.” Meaning that even at this stage in his career (which includes an Oscar nomination!) he doesn’t feel “safe,” or like the business is easy, or that he will always get work and not just fade away into yesterday’s news. When he said that fear drives the creative process, I don’t really think he meant it as a joke. Thinking about this notion, my first reaction is, holy frigging shit. But when I think more deeply about it, I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing. I think as writers, we know first-hand that the thing that fuels our creativity isn’t necessarily all unicorns and daisies. Where does out drive to create come from? Where does ambition come from? I don’t really have the answers to those questions, but I think the fact that you’re always trying to make it in this town, the fact that it never stops, may sound crazy and absurd, but in a way, is really just like life.

Well, I guess that’s it for now. I am taking the red-eye home and have big plans to lie around in my PJs and watch cheesy TV for the next couple of days. Then on Monday, I hit the ground running. Again, my many thanks to Julie, Margaux, and Andrew at the Script Department for choosing me, and for arranging this amazing, unforgettable trip. When I sell my first spec for mid-six figures against high-six-figures, I promise to guest-blog again and share the good news. ;)


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hoeft13 said...

Well played Hilary! I have enjoyed living vicariously through you. I wish you all the best and if your screenplay gets optioned, I want you to continue your guest blogs throughout the process. Let us ride this wave with you, o.k.

Anonymous said...

Nice blog, when i get some free time i'm definitely going to have to skim through all your other posts.

Until then...

E.C. Henry said...

Congradulations, Hillary. Glad to hear you had a good trip, and made some in-roads in your career.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA