This was so unexpected it was hard to believe. The debacle of my last film (at UCSB – see diary blog May 28 1971 link) seared itself on my psyche and lowered my expectations to the point where merely passing would’ve felt like a triumph.
At my screening, when the first ripple of laughter landed it was the sweetest sound I’d ever heard. I loved it. To my surprise, what I considered huge success was just as disorienting as massive failure. For the first time, I leaned toward taking film production instead of film writing.
In other words, I forgot who I was – again. What saved me was enrolling in a camera class with Michael. One session of brain-numbing technical talk restored me to sanity. Production people rise at the crack of dawn and work long days – 16 hours isn’t unusual – all of it on site (as opposed to at home, where I can write in my pj’s.) Production people are surrounded by other people and forced to endure production meetings.
I couldn’t design a worse job for me if I tried (except maybe military service). I was constitutionally incapable of surviving a week, much less making it my career. To clarify, production is fantastic for people like my sister Janet. She thrives on it. She’d probably be miserable in the solitary confinement film writing requires. No value judgment is implied, neither one is “better” than the other. It depends on who you are.
Free-lance film writing is not unlike eternal college. The typical time period allotted to write a script roughly corresponds to quarters and the reaction of buyers/producers is like getting a grade. Ninety-five percent of the work is done in solitude, on my own hours, at home.
At UCLA, I discovered a genuine talent for college (this assertion based on graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa). Clearly, film writing was my ticket and I lived happily ever after.
You didn’t buy that, did you? I’m kidding. That would make for a truly boring story. Escalating conflict, big problems and hard decisions keep things interesting – and I was blessed with an endless supply, enough to fill many years of diary blogs.