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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Your "and then" Moment

Maybe it's because I'm generally cheerful and definitely Irish but so many people have been coming to me lately, feeling discouraged. Writers, directors, producers, friends. Maybe it's the feeling in the air about the economy, maybe it's the bittersweet feeling of Autumn, maybe it's the delayed World Series game last night - but so many people are feeling a bit down right now. To which I say - hey! What about your "and then" moment? No, I don't mean and theeeeen like in DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR? Although that was pretty funny.

No, I mean the "and then" moment that tends to be right on the coattails of being on the brink of giving up. A dear friend of mine, a director, just had an "and then" moment about a week ago. He was feeling so down and then out of the blue, he got a gig directing a movie. Boom. Landed in his lap. Or another friend of mine who was feeling at the end of her rope when her manager called; the script is at ICM and they had great notes and it's going wide. Or me. I was having some feelings of frustration and what-the-hell-am-I-doing last week when a) so many Rouge Wavers wrote in with words of incredible kindness and encouragement (thank you to each and every one of you; I may not have replied but I read your comments and I was touched) and b) a prominent and very successful businessman called me out of the blue and wants to meet this week to discuss taking The Script Department to a whole new level. Wow! That call came right when I needed it!

Just the other day somebody told me the story of Ellen Pompeo (Grey's Anatomy) who had packed her apartment and her car - ready to leave town. And on the way out of town, she went to one final audition. For THE MOONLIGHT MILE. She got the part and the rest is history. You hear so many stories like that, particularly in entertainment. Who knows, maybe Isaac Newton was depressed when he sat under that apple tree?

So if in any area of your life, you are feeling down and out, ready to throw in the towel, just know that you could be on the brink of your "and then" moment. And what if you quit just before that "and then" magic strikes? What if, sometimes you have to get to your lowest point before opportunity and inspiration rings your doorbell?

Everybody feels this way sometimes. It's life. But to all those writers out there, I really mean what I say in my Script Department logo (which I borrowed from one of my favorite movies, GALAXY QUEST), never give up, never surrender!

Do it for me, do it for all of us. Keep writing, keep creating. I can't wait to hear your "and then" story. Now, by Grabthar's Hammer - get back to work.

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PJ McIlvaine said...

Boy, this post fits me to a T. Lately I've been feeling very down and out, doubting myself and my choices. I could use a "and then" moment very soon.

Anonymous said...

Never give up? Never surrender? Really?

God I hope you're right Julie. I live by that. But doesn't determination get sad at a certain point?

See, I'm one of those idiots who COMMITTED full time to becoming a screenwriter. Four years ago.

I had been pretty lucky in life up to that point so I decided to cash in some of that luck, take off from life and write "the next big screenplay." And what's crazy, my Wife was and is all for it. And she's smart. What could she possibly be thinking? Anyway, back to my "and then."

My first script - friends and family freaked out on it! They all just knew it would be a movie. But that's what friends and family are for right? It was a great story but it looked NOTHING like a script.

Second script - I got closer. I let other screenwriters review this one. And they loved it! Eventually it made it to a short list in consideration for production by a small company. But they went with a more established writer.

Third script - even better. Tighter, funnier, a bigger idea, could be shot on a budget. So what did I do with it? I put it on the back burner and wrote my fourth script. At this point, my Wife got worried.

"And then" she read my fourth script, I just finished it. And now we both know that all this time and effort was worth it - I'm finally the writer I set out to be four years ago.

Now the tough part.

We tripled our efforts, reading are researching every avenue as to what to do with this script. And then it became more obvious than ever - we're outsiders. We live in Santa Fe, Not L.A. The odds of us getting this script past all the firewalls and into the right hands, are staggering. Staggering.

And then I found your article. You reminded me of what we set out to do and why we never gave up and that EVERYONE in the industry faces these challenges, in one way or another.

(que Rocky theme)
So I don't have the happy "and then" that you were looking for, but I'm ready to dig in on this part of it and never give up, never surrender.

Joe Ed

amy said...

From a wikipedia article on Lawrence Kasdan: " Upon graduation, Kasdan was unable to find a teaching position, so he became an advertising copywriter, a profession he found so loathsome he refused to bring a second child into the world until he escaped it. Still, he labored at it for five years (even picking up a Clio Award along the way), first in Detroit and later in Los Angeles where he tried to interest Hollywood in his screenplays." He was at the Austin Film Fest last week and said how much he hated his job and no one would buy his stuff and it's all he ever wanted to do. And then someone bought My Bodyguard and he was talking to George Lucas about Empire Strikes Back and writing some story about a guy named Indiana who has a whip...

Anthony Peterson said...

Thanks Julie. I think every writer has to go through their "dark night of the soul".

Its part of the refining fire that burns the dross, and ultimately produces gold.

Its just hard living in the second act of my life!

E.C. Henry said...

I have lots of "dark night of the soul" momments. Mostly it's lack of access anxiety. Not being born into money, tooling away in obscurity. Does anyone with any real power to actually do something with what I've written even know I exist?
At least Ellen Pompeo got auditions. Some of us never even get to that point.

There are levels of pain and endurance one must suffer through as a pre-pro writer. A key memory that humbles me and keeps me from complaining to much is the guy I met at the Sceenwriting Expo who had written like 20 scripts, and was still on the outside looking in. He looked SO unhappy and forelorn. My heart went out to him.

My mom and dad are my biggest supporters. I'm blown away by how supportive they are when I'm at my worst. The longer I'm at this "writing thing," the more I'm convinced -- THEY deserve the Oscar more than me.
One of the other things that keeps me going is that I still discover things when I hunker down and write. I'm still able to suprise and entertain myself.
Sadly, I must admit that I find I write the best when work is going horrible. I don't know why that is. Maybe this is God's way of yinning the writer's yang. I've yet to exerience that place where my work life, my writing life, my personal life, and my spritual life are all going well at the same time. BUT I'm still plugging along, waiting, hoping, for my own, "and then" momment...

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

Julie Gray said...

Thank you everybody for such interesting, heartfelt comments. Good luck Joe and Amy and EC. And PJ - keep your chin up, girl. Who luvs ya? xoxo

Joe Public said...

For those who have not seen this clip yet, there's a lot of future in not giving up.

Click the video icon for The Battle At Kruger.

Battle on little buffaloes!