The First Taste of Success – timing:
(a) “The first few years I was writing low-budget movies. I worked (for) entities making movies for next to nothing. It was great because they actually got made. You finally hear how dialogue sounds in the mouths of actors, and get a sense of how your ideas really don’t work when they’re finally thrown up there. You learn a lot right away. But after about four or five years, it felt like it was a dead end… I thought I owed it to myself to write a screenplay that I really liked – to give it my best shot before I left the industry. I came up with an idea, and worked it out with my partner, and sold it right away.”
(b) “Being part of a spec auction, where your agent is calling, and you have no money, and they’re saying ‘They just bid a hundred thousand,’ ‘They just bid two hundred thousand…’ It’s like winning the lottery for something that you actually did, as opposed to luck. It’s a really, really thrilling feeling… The thrill that you get from those sales – it just feels like you’ve been validated somehow… Now the thrill comes from watching the final product.”
(c) “In the film business, there is never one breakthrough moment. It’s always a series of moments.
You never really succeed. You always fail at a higher level. As a screenwriter, the first level of failure is you can’t finish your screenplay… Then you finish the screenplay and nobody wants to read it. Then you get somebody to read it and they’re not interested. You get them to read it and they’re interested, but you can’t sell it. Then you sell it, but it’s not made into a movie. Or it’s made into a terrible movie that you’re embarrassed to be associated with. Or, you know, you hit the jackpot. You get the movie made, it’s a critical success, it’s a box-office success – and everybody turns to you and says, ‘Okay, you gotta do it again.
You’re always climbing that mountain.”
Excerpted with quotes from (a) John D. Brancato & (b) Zak Penn & (c) Andrew W. Marlowe
Tales from the Script (2010)