(Or, Dream Killers Ain’t Nuthin’ but a Thing)
If you find that you cannot get the work done within the machine, do it yourself.
In disclosure, as a writer-producer in the insanely tough business of Hollywood, I’ve fallen on my face more times than I can count. I’ve always, however, brushed off the failure and strived to move forward. I’ve had some successes and innumerable failures.
But, if the business is truly in your blood, you find a way to go on.
Gareth Edwards, director of the 2014 Godzilla reboot, had one homemade feature to his credit prior to directing the $200 million return of the giant lizard. The film was an indie titled Monsters, and it was shot for less than $500,000. Monsters was no big commercial hit, as it grossed $4.2 million globally. The reviews, however, were sensational.
The Blair Witch Project may have been a fluke success, though well over $100 million domestically can never be dismissed. What it proves yet again is possibility can indeed meet opportunity.
Frequently, though, you have to create those opportunities for yourself. The Blair Witch Project was financed and shot independently, and purchased later by Artisan Entertainment.
Another possibility? Fortunes derived from self-published books. The Martian was initially self-published, and then purchased by a major. And then the film rights were purchased and that team’s efforts earned the movie over $500,000,000 around the world.
Again, this is the exception far more than the rule, of course, but once more proving the potential of the DIY concept. Do you think Andy Weir, the writer of the novel, is (still) smiling, all these years later? I’d bet on it. His career is made.
For that matter, check out the history of Fifty Shades of Grey, which was also originally self-published.
What about YouTube? Teens and adults are making videos, silly and otherwise, that are going viral quicker than they ever could before. As a result, many of these teens now have multi-million dollar book deals, films, and TV shows in progress. They did it themselves, as opposed to waiting for others. Their visibility led to their discovery.
My own books with Steve Hillard, The Chronicles of Ara series, were optioned (since in turnaround) by Ovation TV for an eight-hour miniseries. The books were then independently published and print-on-demand, the latter typically poisonous for film or TV potential. We had sold less than 200 copies at the time Ovation approached us, and we were not available in bookstores. They had read about the first book online, then they read the book description on Amazon and the offer was made.
It can happen. That’s the larger message. If what happens reverses itself (the project doesn’t move forward, as an example), there are always other possibilities.
How many talented writers, musicians, photographers, filmmakers and other artists give up because of bills, kids, etc.? John Grisham wrote The Firm when he was practicing law. Yet another example.
Far too many creative types take the path of least resistance and give it all up for a life of security. That may be fine for them, so long as they don’t regret their choices later. I’ve seen the effects of that regret far too frequently. I’ve seen the substance abuses, and worse, on the part of friends. Severe depression is not uncommon. All too often, I’ve seen those who have been unable to handle their lack of success become desperate and then take desperate measures to deal with their discontent.
At least two friends have taken their lives, despairing over not attaining their dreams.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
I speak a great deal to filmmakers and writers primarily around the country. I’m privileged that way now, but it wasn’t always like this. Truth is, I still have to pay the bills, make time for real life and obligations, and be an adult in other aspects when the need arises. Sound familiar? I have the same concerns and worries as anyone. We all do.
So knock on doors. Sell your work. Send out mass emails, do interviews, send out press releases and don’t be afraid to subscribe to a wire service and allow them to further expose your work. Get blurbs from friends, network in person and on social media, showcase your work … ask, ask, ask. Create a scene and get yourself in the news. Create your project early in the morning before your 9–5, or after. Whatever the hell it takes to succeed, if that is truly what you want.
Advice: Undertake your artistic endeavors with a clear head as to how far you want to go. Do the same and consider how much you are willing to sacrifice to get there.
The cliche is that the law of averages will eventually catch up. Yet another cliche that happens to be true, but only if you do the work.
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