I’m a big believer in positivity.
(I know this surprises you!)
But I think without some clear cut basics, we cannot attain our goals no matter what our goals may be.
My turn in screenwriting came during the 1988 Writer’s Strike. After struggling to get into the WGA, the strike, and lack of non-scab work, sent me back to my hometown. It was just 90 miles away from L.A. but far enough to feel like I’d been exiled to another world. I’d had mixed success in writing. My scripts were all over the place. I had “experimented” with what might now be called the YouTube route by making my own video with friends called The Blank Show.
And my writing partner at the time and I had written our brains out, churning out script after script. But our high water mark was writing — and seeing produced! — the first interactive movie ever, called Police Academy 4.5, an amazing experience where I met my buddy Phil Goldfine and Paul Maslanzky, both inspiring figures.
Otherwise I had very little to show for all my hard work.
When my father passed away that year, and the strike ended, I decided this was it. Do or die. I was very broke. But with help from another good pal, producer Tommy Lynch, who hired me to write a number of Kids Incorporated episodes, I kept body and soul together. And I had a vision!
I got a desk and an office for cheap in downtown Santa Barbara; I lived on $900 per month; and for some reason I got index cards upon one of which I wrote my goals:
“I have sold a million dollar screenplay. I have a three picture deal. I have an office on the lot.”
At the time, this was insane. I had no idea how to do these things. I think at that point, I had an agent, but because of my lack of saleability, she was just someone to touch base with occasionally.
I had another index card. Upon this I wrote: “DISCIPLINE – FOCUS – POSITIVE ENERGY”
This, it seemed to me, was a winning triumverate. But I was making this up as I went, so what did I know?
Discipline meant that I would rigourosly work hard every day and meet daily goals. Focus meant I would direct my efforts toward one goal: selling a script. And Positive Energy meant to me, that no matter what the results of my efforts or the day, what the news was, or how the pitch went, I would see only the good.
I become Mr. Glass Half Full.
Within four years I had attained all those goals. It was one day while unpacking my stuff, after moving back to L.A. and into an office on the Disney lot, that I found those cards. Amazing! I thought. How clear I had been and how clearly I had achieved each one.
This from a guy who at the time I wrote those out, had to scramble to find change in the cushions of the couch to buy a cup of gourmet coffee once a week — my big treat!
I think those opportunities are there for all of us. And as we look out on the landscape, the more specific we can be, the better. When we target our careers and our scripts, we see a vision that becomes the truth, so it’s important to pick well.
And dream big.
What is your discipline? What is your focus? What is your mental outlook?
Mine is posted up on my computer this morning. Brand new. Let’s see if vision will meet opportunity… again!
p.s. And speaking of opportunity, as a favor to a producer friend, I am helping him look for original screenplays that are best described as “true stories of inspiring women,” not set in any period prior to the 1950’s, that are finished scripts with no attachments. If you have anything in your quiver that meets this requirement, please contact me at my personal email: [email protected] Have a great writing day!