Ground Hog Day 2016.
Multiple random voices from LA colleagues springing up around me in the last two weeks … “Direct a feature …”
It’s so weird. Everything else in my career, I chose to do. Drum corps, lawyer, writer, teacher, video game nerd, whatever. But directing — regardless of whether I am great or horrible — it is something the universe decided I do. Which is fine, because I enjoy directing, but I didn’t come to LA to direct, I came here to be an entertainment lawyer, and that part of the game is going fine. I arrived in La-La land with no thoughts of directing anything.
But I got seduced into screenwriting, which looked so easy and fast and fun at first, that I found myself paying $ 5,000 to sit in class at UCLA to learn from genius screenwriting professor Scott Gorden and others … wondering how screenwriting all looked so easy and fast in the first place.
Voila, I left UCLA with a couple of scripts, one of them dynamite, a vampire film set in Berlin, on the last day of World War II. This script (My Immortal – The Vampires of Berlin) won the Terror Film Festival, the novel was ranked #3 by Entertainment Weekly, lots of people love the story.
But as a producer, trying to get a director to read the script was a time of intense frustration. Mind you, years were going by and directors were writing my script off, because it was a “period piece” (historical) and I was a new screenwriter. I was getting nowhere, and I was done asking people to check it out .Please read my script.Please read my script.Please read my script.Please read my script.Please read my script.Please read my script.Please read my script.Please read my script.Please read my script.Please read my script.Please read my script…. What the hell is this?
I hit the wall over lunch at the Cannes Film Festival. I announced that the film industry was officially fucking stupid, I had a great script that nobody was going to read, and I was going back to lawyer land, where it was safe and sane, without all the bullshit and chaos of Hollywood.
My producer pal looked up and said — “You know what your fucking problem is?”
Dramatic pause. No.
“You wrote My Immortal, the script. You planned the music. You picked the cast and you diagramed the damn scenery. You even wrote the novel. You have the entire movie figured out, top to bottom. You have the vision. You are the Director.”
I laughed out loud. The idea was ridiculous, as if he told me I was a cattle rancher, astronaut and drum major of the Hawthorne Caballeros, all at the same time.
So, I went back to LA after that kooky episode of Cannes, kept going with the vampire movie producer mission as-is. Please read my script.Please read my script.Please read my script.
A few weeks after that, another colleague in LA said the same thing to me, out of the blue. You should direct a movie.
I dismissed her too. But I started to think about it, and began to research what directing a movie was all about. I spent time on set, and began read to everything I could find. I thought, maybe I can do this.
When the third person told me I should direct, the scene became absurd. It was as if the Universe was telling me to direct, not my colleagues.
So, I gave up
I surrendered to the universe, and decided to direct a movie.
And I also decided that if I was going to walk the plank of dramatic failure with all of my colleagues looking on, I’m not going to direct with subtlety, nor aim for anything lower than the level of “take over Hollywood and ruin it for everyone else.” Go big or Go home.
Where this venture goes, we’ll see.
But for the record, I originally got on the bus as as a happy passenger. If one director would have taken the time to read my script, I would never have gotten into the driver’s seat.
But that’s what happened. Now, look out.
Seatbelt = on.