Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Think of it as Film School...

...when you're starting your career. The beauty of film school is that it's an incubator for people to have terrible projects. And trust me, everyone's first project is a disaster. so is their second, third, and fourth.

It doesn't matter if you are an actor, a director, a cinematographer, or a writer, you will invariably SUCK when you start your career. If you are beginning in a career in entertainment, look in the mirror and tell yourself, "I SUCK".

Don't worry, there is an upside, because you are SUPPOSED to suck. The only way you become GOOD at something is to do it A LOT! and I mean A LOT A LOT. For example, every actor in LA is in some sort of acting workshop, even working actors go to classes to improve their craft. Because they know that it's a constant process to improve and that in every class they get just a little bit better.

When I first started working, I was on hundreds of projects feeling my way, and getting to a point where I thought it was time to direct. And my first three shorts were a disaster. This was a professional cinematographer, who had been on hundreds of shoots, and when I edited everything together, it was tragic. Luckily, I moved past it, and eventually became comfortable enough in my own skin to direct a feature and a couple TV shows.

So, why do I bring it up...because you should let yourself suck. Don't expect your first script to be perfect, or your first directing experience to be flawless. It's too lofty to think you should be great from the outset. Allow yourself to suck for a while. Now, if you've written ten scripts, or directed ten movies, and you're still terrible, that's another issue.

Since moving to LA, I've found that just as many people SAY they are something as actually are doing something. It's very easy to call yourself a writer because you've done a script, or a director for having directed one short film. However, the truth is that Actors act, ALL THE TIME. Writers write ALL THE TIME, directors direct ALL THE TIME, and producers produce ALL THE TIME. And THAT is how they get better.

Just remember this, STEVEN SPIELBERG'S first movie sucked. If you could get your hands on it, he would be embarrassed. There may be flashes of genius, but he worked, and worked, and worked at it before he even got a small break. I heard a statement a couple months ago that a new writer will gladly give their first script to anyone, while a professional writer will never show their first script to ANYONE. Once again, because even professional writers SUCK when they start out.

At UPC, I read a lot of scripts, and its pretty easy to see who the professional writers are and who are the people that don't have it yet. The professional writers have all the tricks to make their script pop, because they sucked for a while until they learned how to do things. It's not that the other writers aren't good, but there is an intangibility to the writing that stands out with a professional writer.

And that is what film school provides, the ability to suck without fear of reprisal, the be atrocious without fear of repercussions. To be given a grade, and a way to grow into a career, to develop your eye and your voice. So, when thinking of your career, think of it as film school. Let's say a writer writes five full features in film school. Well, you should give yourself at least five scripts to develop yourself as a writer, instead of sending out your first script as gold.

Remember, it's okay to SUCK. It's okay to need more work, because everyone does. But, it's important to know your inadequacies, and be working towards changing it. And as I said in a previous post, it could take between 5 and 10 years to be discovered in this business, and some people are never discovered. Everyone in this city has one thing in common, they used to SUCK, and now they are at some level of not SUCKING quite as much.

Remember, YOU SUCK, and that's okay.

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