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Thursday 10 June 2010

Are you taking your career seriously?

I know some people who moan about the industry. They moan about how it's "impossible to make it as a director" before they've even directed a stranger on how to get to the train station. I know actors who moan about being unable to meet director's, who then go on to cancel three meetings in a row with me. The majority of people don't fail in this industry because it's hard, they fail because they're not trying.

Today I did a filming job in the morning. It was meant to finish at 3pm but it finished at 11am. Fine by me. I got paid. I came home. I was reading a screenwriting book on the way back. When I got home, I decided to watch a film. It was 'Milk'. It was difficult to watch, really challenging-- being that it's pretty much the first film I have watched which is very much about homosexuality (I mean, in 'Philadelphia' Tom Hanks is gay, but it's not as primary a thing in every scene as with 'Milk'). The film was fascinating, and Sean Penn was amazing. Then the DVD stopped working on 53 minutes. Those damn rentals. I made some lunch. Then I watched another rental, 'Look Who's Talking'. Stupid thing stopped working after 23 minutes! I got a phone call from a film festival programmer who's going to screen a couple of my short films. We talked for a bit, talked about arrangements. Tonight I watched about six Tom Hanks interviews, then two episodes of 'The Actors Studio' - one with Will Smith, and one with Kevin Costner. I wrote a film blog about Tom Hanks, I wrote a film blog about Kevin Costner. I set up a Facebook event for the film festival and invited my friends. I emailed a feature screenplay I've recently written to the Head Of Development at a medium-sized production company. He said he'd read it. I am constantly doing the work. Now, I'm not saying I'm successful. I'm just saying, I'm doing the work. I'm in the zone. I'm clearing out the movie trash.

Too many actors say they're going to make showreels, and don't. Too many actors wait too many years for too many films they don't even like anyway. Too many actors put DVD's on their cabinet and wait for some magical mystery day before doing anything to make a showreel. Jesus, there's going to be a Black President before these guys get their showreels done!

Too many people are busy. Busy running around meeting for 'coffee' and discussing projects, and quoting lines from George Bernard Shaw, instead of doing the work, creating the work, being the work, finding the work. By work I mean work, and I mean studying, and I mean chasing, and I mean living. You are too talented to be sitting on Facebook. You are too talented to be too tired to work on your business plan, or your storyboards, or your composition. You are too talented to repeatedly meet up with the same 'safe' people who are all industry-talk-but-no-action.

Yesterday, I had a free day. I had nothing to do. Luckily, I had friends who wanted to see me. One of them is a music composer who I've worked with in the past, but we've never really spent much time talking. So we met for coffee. And we talked for hours about all aspects of our industry; and all the things we talk about here like creativity, inner critics, Tom Hanks, gender issues in film, etc -- and he taught me lots about music rights and publishing. How awesome! Instead I could have been at home, talking to some girl on MSN who I don't really know and don't really care about. I learned a lot, and got to understand more about how he works and how he finds and channels his creativity. The only problem was - I paid for the damn coffee.

I know actors that are constantly late for meetings, I know film director's who haven't watched a film in four months, I know writers who know everything that is wrong with every film ever made, yet have never written one right thing themselves; not because their writing is bad but because they've never actually written anything.

The right time to do the work is, surely, right now, otherwise what's the point? If you said you'd read my script, you should. If I said I'd watch that musical from 1937 that you lent me two years ago, then now is a good time. If we said we'd go to the ocean to get some inspiration from nature for our screenplays, then we damn well should. The time is now and the time is now and the time is now. We are too healthy and too privileged and too alive to not do anything now. And if some of you can honestly say "hey, actually, I'm not healthy enough right now," then that's even more of a reason why the rest of us should get off our asses and actually do the work we were put on this Earth to do.

I know you have talent, I know you love movies. Whatever has stopped you, be it laziness, confusion, or a lack of confidence. Whatever is behind that; debt, bad parents, negative teachers, depression;- your freedom will come from your passions, from your dreams, from your talents; if only you bother to start finding them and using them. DO IT.

I beg you
Do something
Learn a dance step
Something to justify your existence
Something that gives you the right
To be dressed in your skin in your body hair
Learn to walk and to laugh
Because it would be too senseless
After all
For so many to have died
While you live
Doing nothing with your life.

-Charlotte Delbo, Holocaust Survivor.


  1. Really good post Kid - everytime I get even a little doubt, everytime I sink back into blaming the industry or my agent or my looks everytime I'm just too plain lazy to put the hard work in you post another brilliant blog and you remind me why I want to do what I want to do and why just wanting to do it just isn't enough! And for that I can't thank you enough...

    Now do excuse me while I go and sort out getting a showreel cut!

  2. Awesome, inspirational post even for people (like me) who are not looking to get into the industry. Keep up the good work!

  3. I needed this today. One thing abt your blog is that it's part of taking my career seriously. Today I've had to do lots of admin stuff but tomorrow morning I get to work on my novel, recently rescued from the hard drive of my dead computer. Not sure why it's a novel not a screenplay, think I need to see how to use my screenwriting skills in a novel while exploring some ideas from a screenplay that didn't work and then swap the novel into a screenplay. Sounds crazy written down, but thank you for being there reminding me that although I'm an activist and (not reaaaalllly) an academic, I'm a writer, a writer, a writer-- And tonight will thank you too, as I settle in for twenty hours of "In Treatment", now that the therapist in Development is all fixed up (I think).