There’s always the next step.
The problem with filmmaking – as in life – you never reach the top. Let me put it another way – there are ten million people on the same set of stairs as you – all trying to reach the top. Each one of them thinks they are one or two steps away. But each step they climb reveals more steps.
Except for those people at the top. They taunt and tease us. Some of those people only had to climb 4 or 5 stairs. Some of them climbed a hundred. A thousand. For each of us, the journey is different. And that’s what sucks.
To make it in film, you can’t follow a path and be successful. It’s not that simple. There are schools – but that doesn’t mean you’ll make it. You can work your way up – but it doesn’t mean you’ll make it. You can have famous parents – and that certainly helps – but it doesn’t mean you’ll make it.
In film, there is not really a version of the guy that plays the coffee-house once a month and calls himself a musician.
There’s made it – and not made it.
Sure – there are a lot of people who exist on the fringes of the business. Even a wedding photographer is a photographer. But it’s not what we all are here for is it? We have a burning desire to tell our stories. To get our films out there. But how can we do it when the dream we chase is so elusive?
9000 films were submitted to Sundance this year. 200 got in. Maybe 10 get distributed. That’s 8990 broken dreams. And of the 10 that made it – let me ask you: What’s the last Sundance film you saw? That you remember?
Orson Wells said: To paint, you need paint and a canvas. To make movies, you need a bank and an army.
This is not easy – what we strive for. Which is why so few make it.
Even when you’re a successful screenwriter – when you’re making more than 1 million dollars a year – it seems you write more things that don’t make it to the screen than things that do. There are millions of scripts are written each year. And while more movies are getting made now than ever – that’s a lot of scripts that are sitting around collecting dust.
Like mine. Like yours.
Everywhere you go, everything you read, says “write a great script – and the doors will open.” If every movie that was made had a great script – I might be more inclined to believe this – but it seems like “write a crazy blockbuster script that defies logic, is based on toys from the 80’s and has a hot girl in it” might be a better path to take if you want to make it.
Here’s what I know.
You can’t control anything in this business. Insecurity and confusion is the oil and gas that make this car run.
So what do you do?
Each day you wake up and try to put words to paper and story to script and emotion and character to film and hope that someone out there sees what you see and they pull you up to the top of the stairs.
Here’s my path to success:
Desire to be a filmmaker
Start making short films
Go to film school and get masters degree
Make a film
Win numerous awards in over 15 festivals
Sit back and wait for offers
Start to grip on commercials
Move to art direct commercials
3 years after film – someone finally offers me a job. Cutting down 100 episodes of a bad sitcom into a 10 minute clip reel.
hired to direct commercials
hired to produce documentary series
hired to produce/direct documentary series
hired to direct bad drama series
write my own script
raise 1 million dollars to shoot it
try to get 1 million more
end up with two major stars attached and film greenlit at 10 million dollars. with a start date.
stars leave to do 120 million dollar film
get job doing infomercials
The next step?
…to be continued.
It’s a long way to the top of the stairs. Or its a short way. Problem is we’ll never know. Unless we stop climbing.