Friday, December 18, 2009

2009 - a wacky kind of year

Since my last post, 100 work weeks on Avatar have ended, Tintin work has started, I have drifted roles again, from Matte Painter to production in costumes (I know??!!), and the one-hour TV show that I've been writing with Producer Joe (prolific Hollywood producer who's been the first big fish to put faith in me) has blossomed into writing a spec pilot for a possible series that none other than James Manos is now consulting on. Imagine my thrill and surprise.

It's been a hellova year.

As of yesterday at 5pm, I am officially on holiday. Work has shut it's doors and asked us not to come in for the holidays, which gives some sad insight into the workaholics that are abound in this industry. Of course, I don't feel I am one of them, despite what people say. Workaholic comes with more negative connotations than alcoholics. Like I can't find a real life, so I depend on my job to fill the emptiness inside. Let it be known, I am not empty. I am happy. I have a life. I just seem to work a lot. It's different. So there. And I am relieved and overjoyed to be off work for 3 weeks. I only plan to go into work once, maybe twice while on holiday.

Year One of trying to sell something I've written has been a bumpy, exhilarating, deflating ride. But I feel that I actually got somewhere in the end tally. I'm happy with the progress of Year One. I am excited to see what happens in Year Two. Excited and terrified. Mostly excited.

Some things I've learned... for this was the original point of my blog... to share things I've learned along the way, and hopefully get back tips from other writers as well. Which I have. And I thank you.

Right, what I've learned....

Right Attitude:
In order to stay sane in a world of make believe, superstars and the one minute pitch, I found a fine concoction of determination, good humour, common sence and a dose of whimsy works well. It's the business of entertainment. An oxymoron from the get go. Oscar Wilde said Life is too important to be taken seriously. So is the movie business.

Don't be Desperate:
I'm happy I kept my day job. Don't get me wrong, I want to write for a living. Obviously. But I also want to eat. In nice places. With nice wine. I don't want to resent writing if I couldn't afford to do those things because of it. So, I've made nice with my job. I've stopped saying how much I have to get out and do what I really want. I've come to realize that I'm already doing it.

Don't Piss Anyone Off:
Hollywood is all about connections. If someone is being a dick, and all you want to do is tell them to piss off, don't. Seriously. Take the hit. Do the time. Work hard with your head low and bum up. Treat everyone like they could be the one to help you land a deal. Because they could be. Bad reputations are death.

Get Support:
I love being around my writing friends. They all have war stories. They all have interesting perspectives. Writing might be a solitary act, but it's like falling down the stairs. It's only funny if someone sees it.

I've read a ton of books this year. And I've gotten heaps of info and insipration and reality checks from all of them. There are so many awesome books out there. So much help available. One of my favorite quotes is from "Breakfast with Sharks" (of course, now i can't find the damn quote to confirm this, but what the hell, correct me of it I'm wrong). Micheal Lent said that no one ever fails in Hollywood, they just give up. Which brings me to...

Don't Give Up:
I now look at this endeavour like a marathon with lots of breaks, not a sprint. It's a process of connections, rejections, advice seeking, following leads, and waiting. Pushing, and knowing when not to push in order to save a relationship is important. But above all, not giving up. It's all part of the process. Every rejection goes into the pile of necessary rejections. Every bit of priase and encouragement pushes the door open just a bit further. No one phone call, or email is going to end with a million dollar check. It takes perseverence, a thick skin, and unshakable hope.

Writing Gets Good In The Rewrites:
Learn as you go. Be open to self critisism, but don't let it cripple you. Kill your darlings, as McKee says. Be brilliant, but don't stall if you're not. That's what rewrites are for. And always, no matter what, be willing to improve your script. Even if it means putting it away for a while. Don't settle. Be happy with what you've done. Because if you're not, if you get an incling that something isn't working, then I'd bet my bottom dollar, you'd be right. Ask for help. Join a writing group. Pay for a critique. Read a book called "Rewrite". Polish the f*ck out of it until it sparkles. I have found that the rewrites are my favorite part.

And lastly... above all else...

Have Something to Say:
It goes without saying that writing is a lot of work. It's frustrating, and makes your head hurt. My all-knowing new mentor has told me, you have to love what you're writing about. You have to have something to say. Otherwise, what's the point? 10% of the 10,000 writers in the WGA are making a living writing. That tells you how hard it is to do. Manos told me something, and he told me to remember it, and I will. He said that "No one cares about your words. They care about how you see the world." What a trip, huh?

So, my cheriched blog pals, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday. Thanks for playing with me this year. See you in 2010!