So this happened a while back:
Oh, and also this:
I could tell you the whole story, I suppose. A nice chronological account of every triumph and debacle. But that doesn’t feel right. These months haven’t passed like the chapters of a book. They’ve zigzagged, digressed, turned the very calendar on its head. Like most of my fellow film-school alums, I feel upended these days. Hell, like most Americans.
So, let us forgo the familiar small-talk for something more fitting, a lean alternative to my flowery posts. Why, I say we compile a list! A forewarning: this has little to do with my work over the past year. Consider it instead a reflection of my mental state, a personal letter to the bright-eyed film student with delusions of grandeur. Without further ado:
A TO-DO (OR DON’T) LIST TO MY FILM SCHOOL STUDENT SELF
- Write today.
- Okay, write tomorrow.
- Arrive early —
- Night time also works.
- Don’t listen to people who say they write everyday. They’re a bunch of hacks. Write frequently or infrequently. But write with fervor. Like your life fucking depends upon it. Because it does.
- Make up excuses. You’re human. It’s going to happen. But if the excuses outnumber your words, you don’t need me to tell you — you’re a P.O.S.
- Try to write less political stuff. It alienates people.
- Definitely don’t try Sci-Fi / Fantasy unless you own the I.P.
- Try writing hi-concept, self-contained genre–
- STOP TRYING. Just listen to your gut and write already.
- Take your time before you open Final Draft. Research, outline, revise. You’ll thank yourself later.
- No. Write now without any preparation whatsoever. Let that verbal vomit flow like Frank Herbert’s Spice.
- Shout out to Denis Villeneuve for doing Dune. Please don’t fuck it up. Also, it’s okay if it’s not perfect. Stop dehumanizing your heroes.
- When you’re not writing, make money. Money is good.
- When you’re not making money, day-drink. Day-drinking is good.
- Rule of threes is (usually) good.
- Don’t misuse the word hustle. Getting groceries is not hustling. Even if you rushed.
- Don’t network. Be a person. Get drinks with your friends, your acquaintances, your enemies. It doesn’t matter. Don’t go into it, wanting something from the other person. They’ll figure it out. Fast.
- Unless/even if they come from a reputable company, it is safe to assume that the majority of reps are scumbags.
- Hollywood is full of scumbags. You might become one yourself. That’s okay. Just don’t be an asshole scumbag.
- Make something. Even if you shoot it with your iPhone, even if you’re “just” a writer, go out there and make something. For all you know, it may be the only thing anyone ever sees of yours.
- If you’re totally content, something is wrong.
- You are not allowed to be bored. You live in Los Angeles. You work in or around the film industry. You have an imagination, I hope. So use it.
- Expose yourself to the extremes. Inspiration doesn’t strike in a comfortable little cafe in West Hollywood.
- Accept that you are a cliche. An archetype. Unoriginal. Then, go out there and prove yourself wrong.
- You are capable of wonders. But you are more than likely going to be forgotten.
- Listen to advice from your mentor, your professor, your elder. Then understand that 80% of it is rubbish. Or it’s fantastic but it doesn’t apply to YOU. No one’s story is the same. You have to make it your own.
- You can be a cynic and still hope. An optimist and still doubt. As the world grows increasingly binary, your best bet is to embrace the contradictions wherever they might appear. Consistency is overrated. Unless you’re a politician. We could really use a few more straight-forward joe schmos these days.
- Don’t give advice. Especially in a list.