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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Guest Blog: Hilary Graham

At 9:00pm on Wednesday, after a long day of meetings, I go downstairs from my lovely hotel room at The Farmer’s Daughter (another wonderful part of my Silver Screenwriting prize!) to meet Julie and Steve Faber at Tart for drinks. I’m completely exhausted, but I’m very excited to meet Steve because (among other things) he wrote THE WEDDING CRASHERS, which I adore. This will be my first meeting with the big time screenwriter and I’m curious to hear the perspective of someone who is actually living the dream. Not to mention the fact that he personally knows Owen Wilson. Plus, the whole thing is really a “bonus prize” and Steve’s agreeing to meet me because he’s a good friend of Julie’s. So we’re scheduled for drinks, which is very cool, but it gets better. Steve’s actually read my script, FREEBIRD, and get this—he likes it! He even goes so far as to use the word “talented.” Of course, he has some notes, but I’m quickly getting the feeling that this is good. I was talking yesterday about the value of Fairy Godmothers and I think I now need to amend that to Fairy Godpeople.

Well, when Steve, Julie, and I sit down I’m pretty beat—still a little bit on east coast time, spent from chatting and the energy drain of having to be totally charming all day long. But about 60 seconds into our meeting, it’s like someone’s put the paddles to my chest, and I’m pretty sure I hear a voice yelling “Clear!” But when I look across the table it’s just Steve Faber talking and smoking cigars. Remember that old E.F. Hutton commercial? “When E.F. Hutton talks—people listen.” That’s how I feel in Steve’s presence. I’m pretty sure I was slack-jawed and wide-eyed for the better portion of our meeting. Here is a man who really knows how to succeed in this town and he’s sharing his experience with me in the spirit of helping guide my career in the best possible direction. Amazing. And if that wasn’t generous enough, he keeps trying to share his appetizers with me. Before meeting Steve, Julie had told me that he was incredibly supportive of new talent. Now I am feeling the effects of that advocacy. This isn’t the kind of thing you can glean from a book, and I can only hope I adequately expressed my gratitude to Julie for hooking me up with Steve, and to Steve, for sharing his time and wisdom with me.

Steve Faber is a living manifestation of Life in Hollywood: The Successful Screenwriter who has literally seen it all. Aside from being an incredibly talented writer, he is a straight shooter and a tour de force. Smart, funny, deep, real, and a natural born storyteller. You know that scene in THE WIZARD OF OZ where Dorothy discovers the man behind the curtain? That’s how I felt last night as Steve told me story after story about his experience as a Hollywood screenwriter. As Steve talks I feel like I’m walking deeper and deeper into the belly of the beast and that the map I’ve been relying on to navigate this town is some completely useless scam sold only to tourists.

Though I am completely overwhelmed with this sudden overload, (not to mention the fact that Steve repeatedly reiterates that I MUST move out here if I want to make it happen) I can’t help thinking what a gift this night has been. What a gift this trip has been. Of course, I say that from a place of gut-wrenching neurotic questioning. I have run myself ragged over the last three days, driving all over this crazy city, workin’ it the best I know how, and now I can’t go to sleep without first downloading my thoughts. It’s 3:00am in NH so my husband is definitely asleep but my mind is reeling. How am I branding myself as a writer? Do I move to L.A.? Should I listen to the advice of others in terms of which of my ideas are “saleable” or do I just ignore everyone and trust my gut? I feel like I already know the answers to these questions but I need to churn for a while until I can accept the truth. I have five meetings tomorrow so I better get some sleep. I can’t wait to meet David Arata (CHILDREN OF MEN) at the end of my day. I’ll report back with more Tales from Hollywood tomorrow, unless my brain should happen to explode first….

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Anonymous said...

Sounds like you're having an amazing, fun and exhausting time. Thanks for keeping us all updated and excited for what could be in store for any of us someday. Congrats!


Anonymous said...

I am sooooo jealous. Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Julie, do you think the prizes for the grand prize winner will be the same next year?

Luzid said...

Advocacy - that's the goal I'm striving for, not the big spec sale. Sure, I want that, but more than that I hope to find someone who believes in my potential enough to give me guidance. I've been fortunate to get a glimmer of that from both you, Julie, and Pilar. It's a reassuring gift that commands my gratitude.

When my dream are made manifest, to do the same for others down the line... that would be so rewarding.

Hilary, you are without question a great writer. Love your voice. You'll go far.

(Apropos of nothing, I find it amusing that the captcha word I had to type to post this was "proze".)