Happy New Year, friends and colleagues. I hope each and every one of you had a wonderful holiday season, and are rested and ready to embark on 2017. As we dive into the new year, I wanted to share my column, “Going Bionic.” My posts are designed to benefit those in the motion picture industry, little with a bit of positivity infused podcasts based on my eclectic, amazing and sometimes bittersweet life as a person with a disability.
Many of my articles are strategy-based, so they can be applied to any form of business. Furthermore, many of them are written as I travel to the most significant film festivals and film sales markets. These include, but are not limited to, Cannes, Berlin, Toronto, Sundance, FilmArt in Hong Kong and Tiffcom in Tokyo. Thus, they are written while I experience them in real time.
Before we tangle ourselves into today’s edition, I’d like to announce my little pick-me-up podcast called “Limping On Cloud 9. ” We are on iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher. Additionally, here is our website:
Now back to our regularly scheduled article…As I recently watched a ESPN 30X30 documentary about June 17, 1994 (which was the day O.J. Simpson fled his home in a white Ford Bronco), I realized June 17, 1994 is also the graduation date printed on my MFA from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Hot damn, it’s been nearly 23 years since I cut the film school umbilical cord and journeyed into the abyss of real life. While I’ve been blessed with an enriching career, I never thought it would take me 23 years to get here! Thus, today we’re going to discuss five things you should consider while managing your career expectations. Welcome to “Going Bionic,” and more importantly, welcome to 2017. Here we go!
Understand That Hollywood’s Starting Point For You Is Different Than Your Self-Imposed Starting Point
The one thing I hear time and time again is how painstakingly long it takes filmmakers to get to their career going. Some key moments that can jumpstart a career include writing a screenplay that wins or places at a reputable screenwriting contest, or having a film noticed at a major film festival. However, while you may have rewritten your script 38 times over nine years before it got noticed, or whether you had to make 11 short films and two feature films before your “first feature” gets noticed, (I’ll explain that in a sec), Hollywood views your career start date as when you first achieved distribution from a reputable entity. This means that regardless of how long it takes you to get noticeable distribution, the powers-that-be will still see you in fresh new writer and or director whose public career just started.
Have a Clear Goal
Just saying “I’ll do anything, just give me a job,” may get you your first gig, but it may not get you closer to your goal. So, make sure you have a career goal in mind, and marry your goal with a well thought out plan to reach it. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to let people know your future intensions. This is because if you’re a smart, hard worker, your bosses may look out for key opportunities that are inline with your aspirations.
Understand What You’re Willing To Sacrifice
One thing I can assure you is that things always take longer than you want them to, so be prepared to endure the clutches of cinematic poverty for more than a few years. Trust me, it’s going to suck for at least some period of time, and you’ll want to quit the entertainment industry at least 14,000 times as you climb your career ladder. Furthermore, you may lose relationships, your confidence and even a few friends who don’t understand why you just don’t give up on your pipe dream and “get a real job.” But, if you remain smart about your decisions, focused and relentless, you will ultimately reach your goal(s). You’ll also most-likely look back at your early days of struggle as being the time when you had the most fun.
Don’t Make Your Timeframe Unrealistic
While it’s possible you could shoot out of the gate and reach the A-list instantaneously, it is not the most likely situation. What is more likely is reaching your goal after years of struggle. Oddly enough, many film industry friends of mine tell me that I’m “damn lucky to be where I am 20 years out of film school.” This rings odd to me, because I always thought I’d be at this stage three to five years out of film school. Thus, don’t beat yourself up over how long things are taking, because film careers are like fine wines; they take years of aging to become amazing.
Have An Open Mind To Opportunities Outside Of Your Goal
While it’s always good to have a clear goal in mind, you should also be open to well-respected entertainment opportunities outside of your specific are of interest. For example, don’t shun a TV, cable, or online opportunity, just because you think it will detract from you being seen as a filmmaker. The bottom line is, earning good credits in areas outside of your specific area of interest will get you a lot closer to your ultimate goal than doing nothing will, so make sure you keep an open mind to all creative and career-enriching possibilities that come your way.
Okay, friends, that’s what I have for you today. But, before I go, I know your Monday wouldn’t be complete without a funny YouTube video. Enjoy, and thank you for lending me your eyes!