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“Here’s a secret I have learned in 20 years as a screenwriter. Failure is constant for everyone. And I mean it, everybody fails at this all the time. Not just screenwriters, but I think anyone who tries to illuminate the human experience in an authentic way…I think everyone has the permission to fail a little. In fact I think that freefalling feeling you get right on the knife edge of total disaster may in fact be an essential ingredient to doing anything worthwhile at all. So the question then is: How do you reel yourself back from failure in a public way? How do you fall on the right side of that knife edge? And I guess what you need is a little bit of wisdom and honesty to look at something you’ve written that feels false, or boring or derivative, or in poor taste, or bullshitty, or inauthentic to you, and just plain not good enough. And say to yourself ‘I bet I can do better’.”
Oscar-nominated screenwriter Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich)
2013 BAFTA and BFI Screenwriters’ Lecture Series

Related post:

Aaron Sorkin on Failure
Filmmaking Baby Steps “It’s  all baby steps. One foot in front of the other.”—Sidney Lumet
Commitment in the Face of Failure —Michael Arndt quote
‘The Lord of the Rings’ Failure
Spectacular Failures
J.K. Rowling on the Benefits of Failure

Scott W. Smith

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“In 11-12 years of writing I can lay claim to this—I’ve never written beneath myself. I’ve never written anything I didn’t want my name attached to.”
Rod Serling in 1959

“No one could know Serling, or view or read his work, without recognizing his deep affection for humanity … and his determination to enlarge our horizons by giving us a better understanding of ourselves.”
Gene Roddenberry

If I could arrange for a dinner  with special guests in The Twilight Zone I love to sit at a table with Rod Serling, Francis Ford Coppola, Tennessee Williams, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, and Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody. (You can invite who you want to your Twilight Zone dinner, but these are who I invited.)

These all happen to be writers who have written and/or spoken quite well about success, struggles, and spirituality in the context of creativity and culture.

“What I tried to suggest dramatically [in The Velvet Alley] is when you get into the big money—particularly in the detonating, exciting, explosive overnight way that our industry permits—there are certain blandishments that a guy can succumb to and many do. A preoccupation with status, with the symbols of status, with the heated swimming pool that’s ten feet longer than the neighbors.With the big car. With concern about billing. All these things. In a sense really minute things really in context, but that become disproportionately large in a guy’s mind. “
Rod Serling

When Mike Wallace asked Serling when those preoccupation with the symbolism of status becomes large what becomes small, here’s what Serling said in that 1959 interview:

“I think probably the really valuable things. And I know this sounds corny,  but  things like having a family, being concerned with raising children, being concerned with where they go to school, being concerned with a good martial relationship–all these things I think are the essence. Unfortunately, and what I tried to dramatize in The Velvet Alley was that the guy who makes the success is immediately assailed by everybody. And you suddenly find you have to compromise along the line giving so many hours to work and a disproportionately number fewer number of hours to family. And this is inherent in our business.”

Serling went on to say that he worked on The Twilight Zone 12-14 hours a day, seven days a week.

When you comin’ home dad?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then
Cats in the Craddle lyrics written by Harry Chapin

Below is a opening from The Velvet Alley that first aired in 1959 on Playhouse 90 with a cast that included Art Carney, Leslie Nelson, Jack Klugman, Micky Dolenz, Dyan Cannon, and Burt Renyolds. And directed by Franklin J. Schaffner who won an Oscar for directing Patton. You can rent the whole program on Amazon. (I wonder if you go to clip six on the You Tube link you may wonder if Cameron Crowe saw this scene before he wrote Jerry Maguire.)

 

Related posts:

“The Catastrophe of Success” (Part 1)
“The Catastrophe of Success” (Part 2)

Scott W. Smith

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“I’m more interested in politics than anything in the world.  Much more interested in politics than I am in movies, art, or anything. I’m absolutely fascinated by politics and have been all my life…The truth is every piece of art is a political statement. When you deliberately make it you—the audience is going to get dizzy—when you deliberately make it you usually fall into the trap of rhetoric and the trap of speaking to a convinced audience, rather than convincing an audience. I think some movies and some books, and god some paintings, have changed the face of the world. But I don’t believe it’s the duty of every artist to change the face of the world. He is doing it by being an artist.”
Orson Welles at Q&A at USC in 1981
(Welles was most personally politically active during the ’30s and ’40s—”FDR used to say, ‘You and I are the two best actors in America.'”—Orson Welles)

This concludes a week of posts of the Orson Welles Q&A at USC after they screened his film The Trial. It’s interesting to note that in the Q&A he mentioned that he never watched his film after he made them because they are so much better in his mind.

It’s also worth noting that in the last few years before Welles dies in 1985,  filmmaker Henry Jaglom recorded conversations with him at the original Ma Masion restaurant where Welles held court in his later years.Those conversation were edited by Peter Biskin (Easy Riders, Raging Bulls) and recently  published in the book My Lunches with Orson Welles. I have not read the book yet but from what I’ve read it does offer some new—and unplugged—revelations into a man who at just 24-years-old directed one of the masterpieces of cinema—Citizen Kane.

“When asked to describe Welles’s influence, Jean-Luc Godard remarked, simply, ‘Everyone will always owe him everything.'”
Peter Biskin introduction to My Lunches with Orson Welles

For Welles Citizen Kane was his mountaintop experience. The movie was released in 1941 and his journey, and creative & financial struggles, over the years have been well documented. If you were born after his death you may be surprised to learn that in the ’70s—and era before cable TV, DVDs, and Internet streaming—Welles was mostly known to the American public as the spokesman for Paul Mason wine. For his Shakespearean delivery of the line, “We will sell no wine before its time.”

An average young person  today is more likely to know Welles from his drunken outtakes from those Paul Mason commercials. The kind of video that ends up on Funny or Die and I’ve actually seen a video of the outtakes below re-shot with actors today as either a spoof or a class project.

By this time in his life the well had run dry for Welles. In a sense he had become like what became of many legends in their later years (Elvis, Hemingway, Tennessee Williams) a shadow of his former greatness. But like Elvis, Hemingway, and Williams the sun is shinning once again. The good, the bad, and the ugly has turned the man who once stood on the mountaintop to become his own mountain. Welles like a select few people in Hollywood—a place he called “a snake pit”— has become through appointments and mythology reached the status of legend and icon.

In the spirit of who “Who was Charlie Kane?” and “Who was Rosebud?” — Who was Orson Welles?   Biskin and Jaglom I imagine have added another chapter to the growing story of the man now sometimes called Citizen Welles.

The final scene of The Lady from Shanghai is perhaps the most autobiographical truthful metaphor in all of his work. It is ultimately impossible to find the real Orson Welles among all the fun-house mirrors he so energetically set in place.”
Henry Jaglom

And to end this full circle, I found a quote online from Jaglom’s talks with Welles that touched on politics.

“Politics is always corrupting. Even saints in politics. The political world, in itself, is corrupt. You’re not going to satisfy that urge to spiritual perfection in any political movement without being betrayed and without betraying others. Only service, direct service, say, helping a lot of starving kids in a Third World country, is impeccable.”
Orson Welles
My Lunches with Orson Welles

And instead of ending with the a scene from The Lady from Shanghai or a clip of one of Welles’ films I thought you might enjoy this clip of Welles talking about Ernest Hemingway.

P.S. If you happen to be in the Orlando area, the Enzian Theater will have a Saturday matinée of Citizen Kane tomorrow (1/11/14) at noon.

Related links: The USC Spectator Spring of 1982 about Welles visiting USC

There is an entire You Tube Channel dedicated to Citizen Welles which includes the  90 min doc—The Complete Charlie Kane.

Scott W. Smith

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“Anybody who goes into film has to be a little crazy. And has to be ready for every kind of disappointment and defeat. And must be grateful for any kind of evening such as this that he can get out of it. It’s mathematically almost an impossible medium to succeed in on any sort of important level.”
Writer, director, actor Orson Welles (Citzen Kane) during Q&A at USC in 1981 after screening his film The Trial 

That’s the quote for today. Whatever success this blog has reaching readers over the years is due to standing on the shoulders of some of the most talented people in the film industry. I see my niche as mainly being a conduit for their insights. I actually don’t know the total number of people I’ve pulled quotes from since 2008, but I’m sure it’s over 500.   Welles’ quote does remind me of many similar thoughts on the craziness and difficulties of the entertainment industry I’ve used on this blog in the past. Here are 22 of them for you to ponder:

“It’s an accepted fact that all writers are crazy, even the normal ones are weird.”
William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid)

“I got into screenwriting for the best of all reasons: I got into it for self-therapy.”
Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver)   

 “I don’t dress until 5 p.m. I have a bathrobe that can stand…Yes, I am divorced. One writes because one literally couldn’t get another job or has no choice.”
Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind)

“If you get rejected, you have to persist. Don’t give up. It was the best advice I ever got.”
Anna Hamilton Phelan (Mask)

“I spent 18 years doing stand up comedy. Ten years learning, four years refining, and four years of wild success.”
Steve Martin (Roxanne)

“Really, normal people are not attracted to this business.”    
Madonna (on the music business)

“Lawrence Kasdan has three unsold specs. Shane Black has films he wants to get made he can’t get made. When every studio passes on your project, let me tell you, that feeling of being on the inside disappears fast.”
Terry Rossio (Pirates of the Caribbean)

“You make your first feature and you just assume the next one will be easier, but it’s kind of not, unless you have an absolute blow-out success and someone will write a check for pretty much whatever you want to do. And it’s not the case. You kind of have to start from scratch really.”
Joel Hopkins (Last Chance Harvey)

“If you’re not hot in Los Angeles, it’s a very lonely town…It’s a lonely town even if you are hot.”
Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show)

“Success is very hard. Nobody prepares you for it. You think you’re infallible. You pretend you know more than you do. Pride goeth before the fall.”
Peter Bogdanovich

“I am widely regarded as the ghost of a writer, a ghost still visible, excessively solid of flesh and perhaps too ambulatory, but a writer remembered mostly for works which were staged between 1944 and 1961.”
Tennessee Williams in 1977

“It doesn’t seem that long ago I had hopes of being the hot kid, selling my first story in ’51 when I was 25. I got on the cover of Newsweek in April 1985, and was seen as an overnight success after little more than thirty years.”
Elmore Leonard in 1998

“I graduated from Northwestern. I had no money. No one had any money. So I got a day job, shelving books at the Northwestern University Law Library. Every morning I would work from nine to five and shelve books, for ten years. Every single day for ten years.”
John Logan (Any Given Sunday)

“For every writer I know that lives high on the hog I know twenty who buy their bacon at Costco.”
Josh Friedman (War of the Worlds)

“I think every writer harbors—secretly or not-so-secretly—delusions of grandeur. Still, when you’re starting out, it’s hard to imagine how you’ll ever ‘succeed.’”
Oscar-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine)

“After nine years of writing screenplays without success, I believed only bad things were going to happen to me.”
 Lawrence Kasdan (Raiders of the Lost Ark)

 “Don’t try and compete with Hollywood. Take your lack of resources and make it work for you.”
Edward Burns (The Brothers McMullen)

This is what I believe to be true. This is what I learned in the hospital. You have to do everything you can, you have to work your hardest, and if you do, if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining.”
Pat (Bradley Cooper) in Silver Linings Playbook by David O. Russell based on the novel by Matthew Quick

“Don’t give up. You’re going to get kicked in the teeth. A lot. Learn to take a hit, then pick yourself up off the floor. Resilience is the true key to success.”
Melissa Rosenberg (Twilight)

“For me, it was a matter of years of trying to develop my writing in the same way that some people spend years learning to play the violin.”
Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption)

“By 1995 I was literally down to my last dollar. I called dad to ask for money, which was like pulling teeth. He wanted to know when I was going to get a real job. My car was stolen, so I was riding a bike. I thought I’d end up working in Starbucks.”
Ken Nolan (Black Hawk Down)

“There are no shortcuts. There is only hard work. Perseverance. Luck. Craft. Failure. Success. Mistakes. And yes, dreams that come true.”
Bob DeRosa (Killers)

Related Posts:
The Breaking of Peter Bogdanovich
How to Become a Successful Screenwriter (Tip #41)—Micahel Arndt
The Secret to Being a Successful Screenwriter—John Logan
Don’t Waste Your Life (2.0)
Rejection Before Raiders
The 99% Focus Rule (Tip 70)
Write 2 or 3 Scripts This Year(Tip #87)

Scott W. Smith

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“Everyone has a big but. Simone, let’s talk about your big but…You can’t just wish for something to come true—you have to make it happen.”
Pee Wee Herman
Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

“The reason why most [comedy screenplays] don’t work is they’re not about anything.”
Oscar-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3)

The screwball comedy (living cartoon?) Pee Wee’s Big Adventure is a guilty pleasure for many. I just recently saw the Tim Burton directed film for the first time and think I know why it has such a strong following even though it was released back in 1985. It not only addresses everyone’s “big but”—which I’ll look at in a minute— but it’s a simple story well told.

1) The opening scene begins with Pee Wee doing what he loves to do best—ride his bike.
2) In the first 10 minutes we are introduced to the quirky hero and his colorful world.
3) In the set-up we understand that Pee Wee’s bike is special to him and he wouldn’t sell it for any amount of money.
4) At the 19 minute mark he learns of his stolen bike. A clear inciting incident.
5) Pee Wee’s goal is simple “To find my bike.”
6) He begins a quest to get back what was taken. (Just like John Wayne in The Searchers and Liam Neeson in Taken.  Active hero=Thumbs up.)
7) Along his journey he meets many bizarre characters, including Large Marge—an 18-wheeler truck driving ghost.
8) There are as many roadblocks as there are set-pieces (Western, Biker, James Bond, Godzilla, Beach, etc.).
9) It has a clear ending and Pee Wee returns from his journey a better man.

When the answer to “What’s at stake?” is just a stolen bike, they get by with it because;  A) It’s a comedy, and B) Pee Wee really loves his bike.  And to show his emotional attachment to his bike they have several dream/nightmare sequences that actually gets mentioned in one book.

“Anxiety is a particularly frequent subject of dreams, both in real life and in films. The anxiety dream sequence is typically portrayed as a state of paranoia, in which everyone and everything is menacing and destructive, and the dreamer is confronted by his deepest fear. In Tim Burton’s Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Pee Wee is plagued by terrible nightmares in which his bicycle is destroyed. The dreams cue the audience in to the emotional intensity behind Pee Wee’s anxiety over his beloved bike. “
Psychology for Screenwriters by William Indick

For Pee Wee to lose his bike for good would be a sort of death.

But where the screenwriters Phil Hartman, Paul Reubens, and Michael Varhol really nailed it is in theme. Three different places in the film, by three different people, the words “I’m a loner… A rebel” are spoken. I won’t totally spoil it for those who never seen (or heard of) the movie, but by the end of the film Pee Wee is “humbled” and sees the need for community.

Kind of like the movie 127 HoursSay what? Am I the only one to make that connection?  James Franco starts out riding his bike and boldly proclaims, “I can do everything on my own.”

It you want your movie to be remembered 30 years from now it better be about something.

“Artists are magical helpers. Evoking symbols and motifs that connect us to our deeper selves, they can help us along the heroic journey of our own lives.”
Joseph Campbell
Pathways to Bliss

“Stories are equipment for living”
Kenneth Burke

Which brings us back to the big but.

When I was first told about Pee Wee’s Big Adventure it was a friend paraphrasing Pee Wee— “Everyone has a big but—what’s yours.” Not as in big butt of the Sir Mix-A-Lot variety, rather what’s the “big but” that’s stopping you from doing that thing you’ve always wanted to do. (“I want to _______, but ________.”)  For Simone it was leaving her jealous boyfriend and living in Paris.

For you it’s something else. What’s the “big but” that’s stopping you? Simone was inspired to live her dream and my guess is that audiences over the decades have been inspired by Pee Wee’s words of encouragement: “You can’t just wish for something to come true—you have to make it happen.”

Or as the German writer Goethe put it, “In action there is power, grace, and magic.”

Speaking of magic and bicycles—and if Pee Wee is too silly for you—check out the classic Italian film The Bicycle Thief.  

Happy New Year. And thanks for being a part of this journey. A journey that at times is like a bike ride in country with Pee Wee Herman, Joseph Campbell , Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and  John Wayne riding along side us.  Hope these posts help you and your writing. Here’s a little related JB quote and song to finish out the year.

“I bought a red bike shortly after I decided to stay in Key West, and it served me well. Key West has changed drastically from the days when you didn’t have to lock up your bike, but it’s still the best place I know to ride.”
Jimmy Buffett

 

P.S. If you ever kicked around Burbank, California back in the ’80s you may get nostalgic when you watch Pee Wee’s Big Adventure because they shot some scenes there. Places like the former Golden Mall (“Beautiful downtown Burbank”) and the old drive-in (also used for shooting Grease). And there are many other interesting layers to Pee Wee’s Big Adventure including Oingo Boingo’s Danny Elfman composing the music, and cameos by Milton Berle, Morgan Fairchild and Oscar-winning producer Tony Bill (The Sting).

Related Post:
Writing from Theme (Tip #20)
More Thoughts on Theme
Screenwriting the Pixar Way (Part 2) Just learned yesterday via my WordPress annual report that this now almost 3 year old post was the most viewed post this year.
Starting Your Screenplay (Tip #6)  “As long as the protagonist wants something, the audience will want something.”—David Mamet (The Verdict)

Related links: Did you know there is a Bicycle Film Festival. (I once made an award-winning short film called Bicycle Dreams that I wanted to submit to that festival, but I forgot. One of my big buts.)

Get A New Story: What’s Your Story About Not Writing? by Jenna Avery at Script

Scott W. Smith

 

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“Coliving spaces develop unique cultures based on the location and people chosen, their mission statement, and house activities. The underlying culture gives birth to serendipitous connections between residents who share similar values and passions.”
Jessica Reeder

The Artist

If you’ve been following trends in Silicon Valley then you know about Live+Work Mansions (also called Live+Work Space). Basically large homes where entrepreneurs, creatives, and the like live and work together for a few days, weeks, months, or longer. The thought being that dividing where you work and where you live is old school. Plus the fact that the cost of living in California is high, this is an affordable/reasonable option to gather with like-minded people as you work on your business start-up or creative venture. (Or if you work at Google or Apple and don’t want an hour and a half commute.) Think of it as a commune for the 2000s.

I don’t know when the phrase “Live+Work Mansion” hit the scene, perhaps the pharse was coined a few years ago by a cleaver realtor when there was a glut of McMansions on the market due to the downturn in the economy. I do know the concept seems to be growing.  (Here are some examples; Rainbow Mansion, TheGlint, Langton Laboratories.)

I also don’t know if there are similar set ups for filmmakers in LA, Austin or wherever—but I imagine there are. When writer/director Shane Black (Iron Man 3) was starting out he lived in the ’80s version of a Live+Work Mansion known as the Pad O’ Guys. A group of 10-12 guys and girls who were like mined in wanting careers in filmmaking. Here’s how an LA Times article described the place back in 1990:

“The center of [Shane Black's] social life is the Pad O’ Guys. Conversation at the Pad, a cross between an L.A. Algonquin round-table and a bull session by a couple white guys hanging around a mini-mall, ranges from banter about great-looking babes to semi-serious discussions of favorite movies. “We’re not totally geeks, but we used to be,” he says by way of explaining the bond that keeps a core group of 10 or 15 guys and a couple of girls together seven years after finishing college.”

Several screenwriters emerged from the Pad O’ Guys including Ed Solomon (Men in Black), David Silverman (The Simpsons) and Jim Herzfeld (Meet the Parents). Here’s how Black himself described the Pad O’ Guys helped him early in his career:

“I would do odd jobs. I was a temp guy. I worked as a dispatcher for a computer repair company and I was just writing on the side. I hung out with a group of buddies—about a dozen, some girls, but mostly guys. And together we had this group that all talked about movies and met late at night. There was a sign in the window “Open 24 hours” and it really truly was. Anytime you wanted to stop by there was somebody in there doing some crazy thing—making a movie, arguing about a film, we had our own game of Jeopardy where we’d invite all the chicks over. We were the geek fraternity, we were the nerds. It wasn’t a true fraternity, it was just 12 people who loved film. Of those 12 I’d say 10 succeeded in a fairly substantial, maybe even spectacular way, and helped each other on the way by reaching back down the ladder and pulling someone up a rung. And in turn that person helping their friend. I think for that reason it’s important to surround yourself with as many friends who are like-mined, people that you share this passion for film with, who think along the lines as you do. Get a group of like-minded people together, not for the purposes of networking—it’s not about using—it’s about finding friends who are as excited as you are—and that makes the odds [of succeeding] quadruple. Start a writer’s group or join a writer’s group is my usual advice.”
Shane Black
2005 talk to students in Minneapolis

Shane Black credits his writer friend Fred Dekker as the guy who reached down and pulled him up a rung by giving his script “to his agent to pass around to see if anyone liked it.” After Shane’s early success he and his buddies lived in the Fremont Place house/mansion used as George Valentin’s home in The Artist.

P.S. If you can shoot and edit video I bet you could live in Live+Work Mansion for free producing videos for entrepreneurs in the house. (Plus you’ll pick-up quite a few business skills and connections along the way.)  So many creative options these days.

Related Article: Hacking Home: Coliving Reinvents the Commune for a Networked Age by Jessica Reeder

Scott W. Smith

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“One of the things that [then Oberlin College] President Starr said to me, which stuck with me, was —’look out into the world and see if there is a gap that needs to be filled, see if there’s something you really want to do that isn’t being done, and then go and do it.’ And that you don’t actually need additional degrees in order to do that. And that really rubbed true to me especially since I probably couldn’t have gotten into any graduate school in the country given my low GPA when I was here at Oberlin. So I took that as a firm piece of advice.”
Two-time Oscar winner Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) on advice he got as a college student at Oberlin College
(And what set the philosophy major in the direction of journalism, which led to screenwriting.)

Scott W. Smith

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“A number of people who know my story have been quick to seize upon it as a rewards-of-virtue narrative–all that effort and persistence, they tell me, was bound to pay off. In this view of the world, character is destiny and success is the logical–almost inevitable–consequence of hard work, patience, and a shrewdly applied intelligence.

That is not how I see things.

From my perspective, the difference between success and failure was razor-thin and depended–to a terrifying degree–upon chance, serendipity, and all manner of things beyond my control. A thousand things could have gone wrong in the five years it took to turn Little Miss Sunshine into a movie, any one of which could have destroyed the project.

Yet at every turn the script was met with good fortune; every setback was revealed to be a blessing in disguise. I was lucky to stumble upon the right agents, who got it to the right producers, who chose the right directors, who cast (perfectly) the right actor and hired the right crew. A single misstep in this concatenation and the film would have been made badly or, more likely, not at all.

Which brings me–in a roundabout way–to Richard Hoover, Winning and Losing, and the underlying concerns of Little Miss Sunshine.

All of us lead two lives–our public lives, which are visible to others, and our private lives, which are not. Richard is obsessed with the values of public life–status, rank, ‘success.’ His view of the world, divided into Winners and Losers, judges everyone–including himself–accordingly. These values have become seemingly inescapable–including himself–accordingly. These values have become seemingly inescapable in our media-saturated culture–from American Idol, to professional sports, to the weekend box office reports. Everything, it seems, has become a contest.

The problem with this worldview is that it neglects and devalues the realm of the private–family, friendship, romance, childhood, pleasure, imagination, and the concerns of the spirit. Our private lives–invisible to the outside world–tend to be far richer and more gratifying than the rewards of public life. We would do well, as poets and philosophers have long advised, to turn away from the bustle of the world and cultivate the gardens of our souls.”
Michael Arndt
Little Miss Sunshine: The Shooting Script (Newmarket Shooting Script)
From the Introduction Winning, Losing and Little Miss Sunshine

Somebody say amen.

Related Post: Rod Serling and the Corrupting Influence of Success

Scott W. Smith

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“You write your first draft with your heart. And you rewrite with your head.”
William Forrester (Sean Connery) in Finding Forrester
Written by Mike Rich and directed by Gus Van Sant (both who are based in Portland, Oregon)

“It helps to live in LA, but it’s not imperative.  I was living in Portland, Oregon when I got my first break (“Finding Forrester”), and given the fact we had three kids, my wife and I really wanted to stay here.  We’ve made it work ever since, though it’s certainly a double-edged knife.  On the plus side, we get to live in Portland, a city I’ve loved since my college days.  On the minus side of things, general meetings and pitch sessions require a trip to LA; sometimes lasting several days.  Oftentimes, the general meetings outnumber the pitches, simply because there’s so much turnover within the industry.  Familiar faces you’ve worked with in the past don’t always stick around, and I find myself constantly meeting new folks who will make the decision on whether a project moves forward.
Screenwriter Mike Rich (Finding Forrester, Secretariat)
Do You Have To Live In L.A. To Make It As A Screenwriter? by Alfredo

P.S. That Mike Rich quote is the perfect way to celebrate the 1,400th post today on Screenwriting from Iowa…and Other Unlikely Places. As I’ve said before on this blog, Iowa is a metaphor. A place far from the core. It could be Iowa or Ojai . West Des Moines, West Africa, West Covina—or West Portland. Most importantly, it’s not where you live but what you write. Rich got his first break when he won a Nichol Fellowship in 1998 for his script Finding Forrester. 

Below is a WordPress summary map that shows where readers of this blog are located. And while I only have one view in places like Kyrgyzstan, Mozambique, and Gambia—it almost covers the globe. And these are just the 2012 numbers. Thanks for reading, and may you keep on writing wherever you live.

Related Post:

Mike Rich & Hobby Screenwriting
Screenwriting Quote #145 (Mike Rich)
Why You Should Move to L.A.
Why You Shouldn’t Move to L.A.

Scott W. Smith

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“Kindness is free.”
Garry Marshall

Garry Marshall survived bad health as a child. He survived long cold winters in Chicago as a college student. He survived a tour of duty in Korea as an Army soldier. He survived producing stressful TV shows. He survived bad investments that almost forced him into bankruptcy. He survived making a few bad films to make a few more good ones. He survived critics, cancer, and canned laughter.

He did all of that and lived to tell about it. In two books actually (Wake Me When It’s Funny, My Happy Days in Hollywood).

Garry Marshall is a survivor.

I’m not sure why of all of filmmakers in the last 100 plus years Marshall became the first one that I spent an entire month writing about on this blog, but I suspect it has something to do with his incredibly long run as a producer, director, writer, and actor spanning stand-up, radio, television, books and theater. (What no blog? Garry call me—we can play some basketball and then grab lunch at Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank and talk blogging.)

If you look at the peaks (The Odd Couple, Pretty Woman, Happy Days, Fonzie, Julia Roberts, Robin Williams) and the longevity of his career—it’s been an amazing run. Factor in how he was able to balance all of that with his personal and family life and you have one amazing life well lived. A true Hollywood survivor.

“The truth is that I always wanted a more stable life than my intellectual idols had. People like Arthur Miller, Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Sylvia Path, Anton Chekov and Albert Camus all had unconventional family life. I was a product of the 50s and was charmed by The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best, and the drawings of Norman Rockwell. Whether they were true or not didn’t matter. I wanted to come home to a wife, children, and a sane family dinner hour. This is probably why I have been married for forty-nine years and have three children and six grandchildren.
Garry Marshall
My Happy Days in Hollywood (written with Lori Marshall)

And he’s not done yet, he just sold a new TV show. As I was looking for a fitting way to end a Month of Marshall (technically started these posts last month) with an exclamation point, I came across the clip below where Marshall is brilliant—though less than kind—as a TV executive giving Louis C.K. a little Hollywood pep talk.

P.S. In light of the Frankenstorm damage to Marshall’s hometown of New York City (and the surrounding areas) it is a good time to be reminded that “kindness is free.”

Halloween P.S.—Here’s a scary picture for you. This is an old Nikon lens that’s older than two of my interns this semester. It had been in retirement for many years until I had a need for it last year when shooting a video project. I originally bought it in Miami or L.A. back in the ’80s. It’s seen its share of battles, but it still captures sweet images. Talk about a survivor…

Related links:

Flaming Rejection
Screenwriting Quote #171 (Garry Marshall)
Garry Marshall’s Directing Tips (Part 1)
Writing & Rewriting “Pretty Woman” (Part 1)

Scott W. Smith

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