How am I, at 33 years of age, approaching 34, ever going to succeed at what has always been my dream of becoming a successful screenwriter or filmmaker? Years have gone by and I’ve accomplished very little in that regard. I’ve done a lot of other great things: married the girl of my dreams, obtained an accidental though profitable and mostly rewarding career, gotten out of debt, had three dog-children, and I’ve seen my wonderful step-children grow from pre-teens into young adults.
Creatively, however, I’ve moved very slowly, and accomplished very little. Nineteen ninety-eight through 2001 was a very prolifically creative time for me. I wrote three full-length screenplays (Rage, No More Tears, and Turnabout); came up with the ideas for many others (Walking Shadow, The Tasha Files, ReVisit, The Whispering, Rift, and The Space Between); placed second in an L.A. screenwriting competition; worked on four different local independent film projects; started filming Turnabout; filmed (though never edited) two documentaries; starred in seven community theatre productions; built a couple web pages; and started writing a couple plays.
Since 2001, in the past seven years, however, I haven’t done too much. I finished filming Turnabout, but it took three years just to do that, and I still haven’t completed the editing of the damn thing. I’ve only written one more screenplay – Rift – and I’ve only completed one other scriptment, ReVisit. I’ve only starred in two community theatre plays. I’ve reduced my weight from 207 pounds down to 187 (wait, that’s not a creative accomplishment; I’m definitely reaching now) … and, well, that’s about it. That’s all I’ve accomplished. In seven years. Seven years in which I’ve gone from 26 years old to 33. The original goal was to complete a movie before I turned thirty, and I completely missed that boat.
So where do I go from here? Do I give up on the idea of ever becoming a successful Hollywood or independent filmmaker or screenwriter? Do I live the rest of my days a happy IT Director of a law firm, and just enjoy watching other people’s movies on DVDs? Listening to their commentaries, watching their documentaries as they live the life I wanted so badly? Do I read their published journals or biographies and experience their lives vicariously? Or do I still try to do something about it? Is there still time left?
So, first of all, the thing I need to get past, obviously, is the age issue. Who cares if I’m 34 when I break into Hollywood? Or 37? Or 44? Does it really matter? Just because Rodriguez, Smith, Tarantino, Welles, Cameron – and most of my heroes – got their starts when they were still in their twenties, doesn’t mean that my path will necessarily follow in that direction. I may end up becoming an “overnight success” when I’m in my forties. If that’s how it’s meant to be, then that’s how it will happen. I’ll arrive at Sundance, my film, whatever film that happens to be, will become a success, and they’ll all be waiting there at some eating establishment, Smith, Tarantino, Rodriguez, with open arms, and they’ll be like, “Hey, we’ve been waiting for you for years, you slacker … where the hell have you been?”
Yeah, I wish.
So, okay, we get past the age thing. It might take me another ten, fifteen, even twenty years to become recognized, to become a success. No big deal. That’s just the way it will be for me. So, what’s next? How do I get there? Will it be through Turnabout? Or through another low-budget feature that I haven’t even dreamt up yet? Or will it be through writing? Will I win some competitions? Become a Nicholl fellow? Or will I bypass all of that and just get an agent? How will it happen?
This is all boiling down to me trying to figure out where to place my creative energy next. We’ll work out the specifics of that in the next blog.