upposedly, an as of yet undiscovered Sylvester Stallone once told a couple of interested producers that he wouldn’t sell them a script he’d written unless they gave him the starring role. With A-list actors of the day to choose from, Sly none the less prevailed. Managed to talk his way into headlining Rocky. You know the rest.
A lot’s changed since 1976. A lot. Modern day films source their budget from a dozen investors. Competition to make it to the screen is stiffer than ever. As a “creative” my sense is demanding anything from producers is probably not going to get me as far as it did Sylvester Stallone.
I taught myself to write screenplays. It led me to a manager. A lawyer. Some cordial relationships with some decent producers. And with any luck, a signed option agreement in the coming weeks as Hollywood wakes up from its holiday slumber.
I didn’t get to this very humble and precarious point because I was discovered. Nor politely asked. Invited. I got this far through tenacious, obsessive, socially detrimental work. Strategy and execution. Planning.
However, there was a pretty good chance I was never going to get even this far. So this far is as far as I planned.
I come from making moving pictures. Low budget moving pictures, but making them none the less. Start to finish. Writing, directing, editing. My holy trinity. That’s what I love to do. What I want to eventually get back to doing. On a much larger scale.
I chose writing over the other two disciplines as my shot at the big leagues because it costs nothing but time to write. And time I had.
And now that things appear to be inching forward, I want to build on this success toward my goal of becoming a nose to tail filmmaker again. So I’ve started planning for round two. My plan to get back behind the camera. My five year plan. Roughly. Thereabouts.
It begins with getting out and shooting as much as possible. Limbering up those filmmaking muscles. Next I’m going to shoot a small scale short. Still on the cheap. Volunteer cast and crew. Craft table of granola bars and juice boxes, but something that’s a little more involved. The foundation of a portfolio. That will lead to a budgeted short. A professional level production that will prove my worth. Based on that, I’m going to go after a low budget feature. Probably a slasher film of some kind. The kind of genre picture that costs very little to make but has a high return. A movie that actually makes money. A calling card for someone to eventually hand over the reigns to a bona fide multi million dollar feature film.
My five year plan. Thereabouts.
I’ve already written drafts of the two shorts. Started outlining the low budget slasher. Been plotting and planning. Warming up. Stretch… Hold… 2… 3… 4.
Excited, focused, I told Manager about my five year plan. To make him aware of my directorial aspirations. Get his feedback on my approach.
He told me not to bother.
Not with the shorts. Not the low budget earner. Not the plan– Any of it.
Just write something you want to direct. If a producer wants it bad enough, they’ll let you direct it.
That seems slightly more laid back than my approach…
But I’m barely anybody. Won’t having a portfolio of work give me a leg to stand on in the face of a potentially nervous producer?
Not if they think your portfolio sucks.
So. Manager’s advice on my thoughtfully crafted five year plan: Just Stallone it.
Did not see that advice coming. Still not entirely sure what to make of it. What it says about the industry. About me. Or about Manager.
Told Manager I’d probably go ahead and shoot some shorts anyway. Limber up those filmmaking muscles again. Train a little. Stay fresh. Stay lean. Eye of the tiger.
The five year plan? Guess I take that one day at a time.