Lately, as I work on my various projects, a thought has been creeping into my head: it’s time to write something really damn good. Something meaningful. Powerful. Not this fluff I’ve been toiling away at lately, silly comedies and thrillers that I hope Hollywood might like. No. I need to write something really solid, that says something to the world. Tells a story about the human condition. You know those movies. The ones that inspire, that provoke, that make a lasting impression on audiences and the world of cinema in general. Maybe not the kind that win Academy Awards (those are usually fairly lame) but maybe the ones that win a prize at Cannes. You know those films.
The only catch is I can’t think of what that movie is. I have a few ideas, but none of them have jumped out at me yet. They’re still too fuzzy, and I like to at least have some idea of the characters and the world they inhabit before I jump into the script. Ideas are no problem, it’s the execution that’s the hard part.
Meaning. Yes, that would be nice. The thought to me again this afternoon as I was standing in the middle of Park La Brea, a bizarre gated housing compound in the middle of West Hollywood. One of my writing partners and I had taken Stephanie, an actress who will be playing one of the roles in our teen comedy, out to lunch. She’s been in L.A. for the past two months, starring in a film that a friend of mine is producing. We had just bumped into Jeff, the executive producer, and we were listening to him ramble on about how his latest movie had been mentioned on “Regis” and bla bla bla. It occurred to me that I and so many other people I know spend a lot of time and energy writing, thinking and creating films that have a high likelihood of being complete crap. They also have a high likelihood of never being seen, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on how you look at it. The one benefit they have is that the money is spent on people who need jobs to live. And that’s probably how I and all these other people rationalize the existence of this garbage.
What’s the solution, then? I’m not sure. I’ve got two more projects in the pipeline that could keep me going financially for awhile if they pan out, but neither of them seems likely to satisfy this thirst for meaning. At some point I’m just going to have to focus and find that story. Or have it find me.
Until then, my plate is overflowing with stuff I have to get done. A rewrite (not paid) that I promised I would do. Another rewrite of my own independent script (obviously not paid). And my short film (I’m paying for that one).
That reminds me. We had a test screening of the short on Monday night for a group of thirteen people at my friend’s apartment. I had hoped to get a screening room somewhere but this was easier and I didn’t have the money anyway. So we got everybody together, a diverse mix of mostly regular folks, to watch the film. It was excruciating on many levels, because it’s a comedy and you want to hear some laughter. Fortunately, there were plenty of laugh moments and everybody responded positively. We had them fill out questionnaires to rate the film, and it came back with an average score of 7.5 out of a possible 10. Which is pretty good, I’d say, for a rough cut. So we know we’ve got a good film here. Now the pressure is on to really make it great. Which means I’ve got a lot of work to do, fixing the pace of the film and getting some good music to help move it along. Regardless, it’s exciting to know people thought it was funny. Hopefully the industry folks and festival programmers will think so too and come knocking.
My door is always open.