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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hard Times - No Better Time to Write

I think everybody is feeling that ripple of fear being cast in all directions by the troubles on Wall Street. It isn't easy to remain optimistic when markets are crashing and people are out of work. What happens on Wall Street affects us all. That's so much more apparent to me at this stage of life than ever before. So much for your burgeoning screenwriting career, right? Better get a part time job at the Piggly Wiggly, right? Wrong. There never was a better time or more important reason to keep writing.

You know what I do when I feel down and I need a distraction? I watch a movie. Comedies in particular have been my in-home therapist when I just needed a good laugh. And sometimes I just need a good cry. I credit WHAT ABOUT BOB for giving me the first real belly laugh in weeks about three years ago when I was on the floor with depression about an event that had occurred in my life. Death therapy, Bob! It works! If even for that short 90 minutes, you can be distracted enough to laugh and remember what's good about life - that's a damn good 90 minutes.

More Americans per capita went to the movies during the Great Depression than ever since. Hard times - and I mean horrible, Dorothea Lange, John Steinbeck hard times actually brought audiences to the theaters in droves. Because for the price of, I don't know, ten cents, you could be distracted for a little while. The Great Depression set the the ascendance of Hollywood as the National Dream Machine in stone. To this day, Hollywood is one of the tiny minority of businesses that actually benefit from economic had times. That and arms proliferation but that's another, more depressing blog post. With such uncertainty in the air, escapism is a great business to be in.

If you feel one iota of guilt about potentially making money in entertainment when others are suffering, stop right now, rush to the video store and rent SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS, one of my all time favorite movies.

So often aspiring writers are just so weighted down by the lottery-like chances of actually selling a script. It feels completely hopeless and overwhelming. Like putting quarter after quarter into the slot machine, hoping against hope you'll hit the jackpot. But sometimes you feel like you're scraping the bottom of the bucket and raiding the kid's piggy bank. Rifling through old purses. You know the drill.

Impatience, day jobs, family - other pressing realities not to mention just plain running out of optimism can take a toll on aspiring writers.

But you really could be that one writer with that great script which gets everybody really excited. You really could have a career ahead of you. Yes, it takes time, it takes skills, it takes talent and connections - but it is entirely possible. Because without all those specs flowing into Hollywood everyday, the machine would chug to a halt. And audiences would be the poorer without really great, entertaining movies to see. Movies are humanity looking back at itself and laughing, crying and coming to terms. They deliver inspiration, catharsis, vicarious adventure and romance and sometimes just a great way to kill two hours thinking about something other than your utility bill and the fact that the car needs another repair. Movies are affordable therapy.

Hollywood needs you, aspiring spec writers. It may not woo you with flowers, it may at sometimes seem cruel and uncaring. But it needs you. Particularly when economic times are hard. Redouble your efforts this fall and winter, to put your nose to the grindstone and finish that script and start another. Be jotting down ideas. Think of it as your patriotic duty.

That is all. Now get back to work.

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Anthony Peterson said...

Amen to that. Reminds me of the time I coached my sons Under 7s soccer team in the cold hard rain. The kids wanted to give up, but I told them their competitors were home on the couch sipping hot chocalate with their mommies.

If you want to get ahead, you have to do what the other guy isnt prepared to do.

They finished training that night with some serious memory burn:

"If its raining, we're training".
or maybe it was "If it bleeds, we can kill it"? I forget. Something like that.

Laura Reyna said...

I always think of movies as crack...

and everyone still needs their drug-- more so in a down economy. Hehe...

Good post. Thanks.

chaia said...

Just thinking about Sullivan's Travels totally makes me cry. Yes. Entertainment is important.

I woke up feeling unsettled and just watched Baby Mama and fucking lost my shit the hardest on one throwaway line at the end, when Amy Poehler is in labor, being wheelchaired to the delivery room and she smacks the hospital security guard and yells something like YOU WON'T TAKE ME ALIVE, PIG!!!!!

Ah. Sheer poetry.

Third World Girl said...

And I can't help but think this is the perfect time to exploit new opportunities creating the next "Lonely Girl 15" or something. Seems to suit the spirit of the moment.

After all, somebody's gotta keep entertaining "Main Street". Wall Street has its thousand dollar massages to keep them chill. ;-)

tammy stark said...

Mwaah... Just what I needed to read... Thanks for giving me hope... love you!

Anonymous said...

Gotta listen to the voice of the angels when they whisper perfectly in your ear...or wink down from the silver screen...or blog from the heart with uncommon and ever timely grace... Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Too true. And "Wallstreet" echoes your sentiment, Julie.

These big Index-funds need places to put money. And it ain't going into housing. Or the stock market or emerging markets or currencies or anywhere - the whole world has the same financial cold.

So what were they talking about just today? Index funds that bankroll indie-films (10 mil or less) And for the very reason Julie stated. The movie industry does well in bad times. After all, if you can't afford to jet off to Paris right now, you can always pop in a movie.