Movie Work is Reality

English: Downtown Los Angeles as seen from my ...

My friend, the famed horror novelist (and screenwriter) Craig Spector once shared some advice with me that I have been rolling around in my head ever since. I had just moved to New York City and I was sleeping on my aunt’s sofa. I had no idea what I was doing…

At the time, Craig was one of the few people I knew who was actually making a living with his creative work. And one day I asked him what I needed to do in order to become successful. Never one to sugarcoat advice, he simply said:

“Work more. Do more. The work is reality. Nothing trumps reality.”

Speaking from my experience in Los Angeles, I have met countless people who have a gazillion great movie ideas. But they are searching for someone else to do the work. And the paradox is this – people won’t help you unless you do the work. Why? Because when it comes down to it, very few people are actually willing to put in the necessary sweat equity into actually finishing a project.

Next thing you know, another decade passes and you wake up realizing you haven’t done any movie work. You have nothing but talk. Talk. Talk.

Big deal.

I know you work a day job that sucks. And I know how tired you are when you get home from work. But if you don’t finish your screenplay, make your short, or plan your feature this year – you might just end up making the same excuses for another decade…

Get off your ass.

Make something. Even if it sucks. It’s better than nothing.

Fighting The Urge To Quit Filmmaking

Broadway show billboards at the corner of 7th ...

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Do you ever fight the urge to quit filmmaking? Here is my story:

Picture this! You leave your small town and move to New York City so you could go after your filmmaking dreams.

Because you don’t have much money, you rent the edge of some dude’s cockroach infested kitchen floor – sleeping on an inflatable air mattress.

It gets better.

You start working with an indie producer and things are going well… You are moving towards the realization of your filmmaking dreams!

Then your college girlfriend (who is presently living in another town) decides to get a new boyfriend – without telling you! Then on Monday you go into work, only to find out that the movie project fell apart. You are now unemployed.

And now you’re looking at the last few dollars in your bank account, wondering what’s next…  How do you pay rent?

I am not sure if this sounds like a comedy. But it’s not fiction. I actually described my time in New York City. And believe me, when that stuff was happening – I was NOT thinking about making movies.

I was worried about survival.

The reason I share this is to remind you that all filmmakers are human. And even the most successful filmmakers have probably thought about quitting from time to time. But they didn’t.

Is the price of seeing your movie on the big screen is worth the headaches?

I wish I could answer this question for you. But I can’t. Only you can decide if you should continue fighting the urge to quit filmmaking.

 

Filmmaking Training From a Mentor

Mentors are role models who take a vested interest in your success. Sometimes, you meet your mentor when least expected, and they will help guide your filmmaking career.

A mentor will provide insight and will often direct you toward a successful outcome. This doesn’t necessary mean your mentor will enter into a business relationship with you, but he or she may offer necessary encouragement, advice and influence which will help you get closer to your goal. Your mentor will be there to answer questions.

Have you ever heard the phrase: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear?” Even though this sounds mystical, for me, finding a mentor has always happened without planning.

When I graduated college, one of my most influential mentors appeared in my life. After sending a resume and cover letter to every film and video company I could think of (and getting no response), I finally landed an interview with a guy named Joe Surges. Joe gave me my first job in the motion picture industry.

It didn’t pay very well, but Joe was willing to teach me everything he knew. He coached me through the easy times and pushed me through the tough times with unrelenting encouragement. When I planned my move to New York City, Joe made some phone calls.

Joe connected me with a friend who then connected me to another friend who offered me my first job.

Later, I was working on a feature. When our project completely fell apart, I found myself stuck in New York with no money and rising bills. I thought it was the end of my movie making world. Heck, I even thought it was the end of my apartment. But at that time, it was Joe who told me to quit complaining and get back to work.

His advice was the best.

Then, a year later, prior to his passing, Joe told me something that’s been rolling over and over in my mind ever since. He said, “You never know which ripple will hit the shore first.”

Since that time, whenever I’m hit with a new challenge, I play those words over and over in my mind. And through this practice, I’ve conditioned myself to find the opportunity in every obstacle.

While Joe taught me a lot about writing, directing and producing, it was his values, his life standard and his expectations which influenced me to create a higher standard in everything I do.

If it wasn’t for Joe’s mentoring, I would have never gone to NYC, would have never made a movie and would have never fell on my financial face—and recovered. Consequently, I would have never made the move to California, produced features or written these words.

Mentors have been there. They reach out and help you grow as a person. And I believe mentors are essential for our success.

How to Write Your Movie Script

… And actually finish your first draft.

Over the past year,  I have received countless movie pitches. Some were good. Some not-so-good. This is pretty typical in LA, as a lot of people say they have a screenplay.

But the sad reality is, hardly anybody has a finished movie script.

In some cases many filmmakers and screenwriters don’t even have the first draft for a script!

So I wanted to announce a new screenwriting system. Based on my decade of making movies (and prior to that, reading and writing coverage for a producer in New York City) – I am in the final stages of production on a product that will provide you with a step-by-step, fill in the blank approach to writing a movie script.

How to Write Your Movie Script

I am also going to give you some insight as to what happens on my end.

As an independent film producer, who is constantly in the hustle, I am going to provide you with some insider producer perspective on what we look for in a screenplay.

  • How do you get your work finished?
  • When do you know it’s ready?
  • What do producers look for in a script?
  • What are 7 surefire ways to get your script recycled before it’s read?
  • I wrote a screenplay – now what?
  • Would you like to sell your screenplay or produce it yourself?

This screenwriting system provides you a step-by-step action workbook and companion MP3 audio.

To find out more about the screenwriting system, go here: http://writescreenplaynow.com/