Welcome to my Annual Thanksgiving Edition where I give thanks. Or sometimes complain a little. But mostly gives thanks.
First up... My Wife. Number one. My kids. Right there. Spectacular. Thank you.
A quick long overdue thank you to Jeff Lowell. Who a few years ago said this in a DoneDealPro posting: “As for Bob, I don't think that, given his resume, he should be handing out advice that contradicts actual industry pros.” This said in reaction to some BAD advice I gave on an IMDb Screenwriting Board because at the time, I thought I knew it all. I didn’t. Not even close.
I had optioned a couple of scripts (never made) and had a couple of small independent film rewrites (made, but never distributed), nothing big. So... of course, I thought I knew everything about screenwriting.
Then someone told me about the DDP thread and I read it. I also looked Jeff up. He’s the real deal, but then most of you know that. To have someone of that stature saying that about me by name was an eye opener. Made me look at myself and realize my ego was much bigger than my knowledge by a long shot. Made me take a BIG step back. I realized having a couple of optioned scripts, of which there are hundreds out there, does not make you an expert. Yet here I was offering black and white advice about screenwriting when I had no business doing it. I hadn’t been in a production meeting, I hadn’t ever worked with a development exec, I had barely ever worked with producers, I didn’t even have a rep. Idiot. Was talking when I should have been listening and learning.
And I'm still learning, 6 produced films later. I just had a two week rewrite session with a director (Thank you Jay) on one of my spec films that goes next year and the amount I learned from that session alone is staggering.
Do I give advice now? Yes. Hey, I have a blog. But now I give it from a background as a produced writer who makes a pretty good living at it. I also rightly label it as my OPINION based on experience and not like I walked down off some mountain with Gold Tablets. If you learn one thing from this: One unmade optioned script to your name? Look for advice, don’t give it.
So thank you to all the writing pros who took me under their wings and to executives, both at the production company and cable network level, and to producers and directors who have let me suck the knowledge from their brains over the years. You’ve all made me a smarter better writer. I hope to never stop learning.
Thank you to my Manager, John. Not with one of those big management companies. An independent guy. We’re having a pretty special year so far. And next year looks even better. Which goes to prove that, yes, even though you often strive toward a big name manager, sometimes it’s better to find one who just believes in you even if he’s not a household name. Something I think new writers need to consider when they’re looking down their nose at a person they’ve never heard of who wants to work with them, waiting for a better offer from a bigger rep that may never come.
THANK YOU to the execs and producers that believe in and support my work. There aren’t enough words to express my gratitude.
Thank you Jay Lowi. Ten years. TEN YEARS. Let’s go make a movie.
Thank you to my real life writing pals. All of you. The people who come and drink with me when I’m in LA. The writers who want to, but can’t make it. The writers I talk to on the phone and trade scripts with. The writers who I want to be successful in the biggest way. Your friendship is one of the things that makes this journey so much fun. Just know how much you mean to me. The writers on Twitter, who make me laugh and who make me happy when they share their successes.
I walked up to my wife 23 years ago and told her I was quitting my pretty successful day job to become a film actor and a screenwriter. Also maybe a radio DJ. She could have said, “Hell no.” Instead she said, “You gotta follow your dreams. But only if it takes you a couple of years.” (See why I always thank her first?)
That was enough for me. So I ventured out KNOWING NOTHING about any of these things or how damn hard it was to even be a part of them, let alone succeed. And in those first two years, I got my SAG card, did some movies and commercials, I was an actor was on a successful TV show (for 6 seasons in a microscopic part, but I was there getting paid to learn how to make movies and TV, Thank you Don Johnson), I optioned the first script I ever wrote to a production company at Warner Bros (never got made, and BOY is that a sad story), and I was on the air as a DJ on KYCY, a country music station in San Francisco. AGAIN, I KNEW NOTHING. I didn’t know how hard these things were to do so I went and did them.
I’ve had a Forrest Gump kind of life. Right place, right time. (Thank You God) Got to work for directors like Coppola, Eastwood, Fincher, Ron Howard, even Michael Bay in blink and you’ll miss me parts. But I got to watch them work. I’ve met and talked with acting heroes of mine I couldn’t have imagined meeting. They wouldn’t remember me, but I’ll always remember them. I’ve gotten walk around movie studios, and not as a tourist (although I’m sure I looked like one). The list of the amazing things I have lucked my way into is too long and boring to list. But damn... my grateful quotient is off the chart.
Finally, thank you to the readers of this Blog. The numbers who read it constantly amaze me. I appreciate you, too.
And everybody have a Happy Thanksgiving.