Tuesday, February 19, 2013
How I got here
My book on screenwriting is almost finished, I've gone over it at least six times and always find an error or a typo. Getting a real editor would cost over $1000 and I really don't think I'd make it back, so I'm the editor.
A week ago someone asked me to define the "breaks" that I either found or ran into, that carried me to a reasonable amount of work and that continues to this day and tomorrow.
The breaks in question are things like making something that got attention, meeting someone who enabled me to climb up a few more rungs, stuff like that. I finally made up a short list that explains how I got to where I am. Or as I like to say it, "a race to the middle". Us Canadians tend to be humble.
Break One: My first break came when I was looking for a summer job while going to college in Detroit. I went to the gov't employment agency and they offered a few office jobs and a job in the mailroom of my local TV station. But they were permanent jobs. I always liked TV and radio and figured I would lie my way in and leave at the end of summer like many students did.
I got the job and it started on a Monday. I walked into the office and some kind of magic began to happen. And when I walked into a darkened studio with big TV cameras hanging like dinosaurs, I realized one thing. This would be my life.
Break Two: One summer I got a leave of absence and my wife and I went to the Banff School of Fine Arts for 2 months, I for film and she for photography. Working at the TV station I already knew more than the instructors here but it was more about a great road trip for us. That's when I met Phil Borsos, a truly talented filmmaker. That meeting would become a company we formed in Vancouver and where we made Cooperage, a short film that won awards in Athens, Sydney, Chicago, American Film Festival and won the Canadian equal of the Oscar and also became a finalist in the 1976 Academy Awards.
That short film opened the doors for both of us, Phil made The Grey Fox, and I made my Ghostkeeper movie. That pushed us upwards into a different league. I met director Paul Lynch who knew of Phil and I and he read a script of mine and then proceeded to get me an agent in L.A.
Break Three: I entered a lottery for Green Cards, the much sought-after immigration card that so many wish for. The lottery was a one-of for Canada and I sent a single letter and got my card. That changed my life totally as I moved to L.A. in 1990.
Break Four: I wrote a screenplay called Emperor of Mars, which, if you follow this blog, you'll know that it was my breaking in screenplay to Hollywood and I got meetings with every studio and network and production company in town.
A student once asked a friend of mine how he could be as big as my friend was in the business. My friend said it was easy; just start at a TV station and work 35 years.
Simple, isn't it? Just have to work 35 years, some years are great, some are awful and most are okay. I am where I wanted to be when I was 8 years old. Can't argue with that.