February 3, 2015


"I know that sounds like a cat poster, but it's true." -- Vitruvius

The optimist inside of me believes I have an amazing Hollywood career ahead of me. Unfortunately my inner pessimist keeps pinning the optimist down, sitting on his face, and launching lethal butt missiles.

Dare I say that the optimist is finally fighting back? Finally emerging from the pessimist's cheeks? Finally launching a few weapons from his own turret? He's always had his moments, but they were too few and far between to really give the pessimist a run for his money. Or his gas mask.

Now is the time for the optimist to fly like a kitty and heed the words of a master builder. It's time to prove I am special by building myself up and destroying the blocks in my way. Today I will construct a new outlook and Lego of the deconstructive attitudes of the past.

Tomorrow I will stop overusing references from that one movie about those little block-like things.

Can you feel me?

Let's have a little inspirational session. Just you and me and a few people that have accomplished a thing or two in their lives. Hopefully we both feel better after this virtual hug fest of pastel colored unicorns and strawberry flavored hope.

Some say that Francis guy was a sissy, but I think he was a saint. If these words of his don't fill you with at least a hint of fuzzy warmth, don't bother reading any further; you're not my target audience.

No matter where you're at in your career, there are necessary things that have to be done. Some of them can be done today; some can be done tomorrow. But they must be done if you expect to get wherever it is you want to be. Much to the chagrin of many who are starting out in the world of screenwriting or acting or directing, there are no shortcuts.

Are there lottery winners? Sure. But not many. Most overnight success stories are actually years in the making. They begin by doing what's necessary (education, practicing one's craft), then doing what's possible (networking, practicing one's improved craft), and finally achieving the impossible (worldwide stardom, private jets, and fancy macaroni and cheese).

By the way, does it really need to be stated that if you're in this for worldwide stardom you're never going to be satisfied? Okay, good. We're on the same page.

Next quote. By a palm tree. How nice.

Even if sports are to you what common sense is to Justin Bieber, you know the name Lombardi. I'm pretty sure half the streets in Green Bay are named Lombardi Street or Lombardi Way or Lombardi Favre. Oh, and the trophy for winning that bowl that's really super is named after him, too.

Vince Lombardi inherited a team that finished with one victory the season before he took over. Under his tutelage, the Packers won seven games the following year. That was 1959, long before NFL teams changed dramatically from year to year with free agency. In other words, the team that won a single game in 1958 was pretty much the same team that won six more in 1959. Lombardi knew what he had and he got more out of it than anyone expected.

My point? I don't know. Something about Legos I think.

Nah, my point is that we all come from different backgrounds, carry different baggage, have different privileges and shortcomings. Yes, plenty of people get their start in Hollywood because they have an "in" while those of us with zero built-in connections pound on door after door only to be pelted with double-edged razor blades and anthrax balloons.

I exaggerate. The razor blades are single-edged.

Still, rejection hurts. Actually, rejection would be a welcome reprieve from the silence that follows so many attempts to reach those on the other side. We can lament our misfortune of being born into blue-collar flyover families, or we can just work that much harder.

Let's combine the quotes from St. Francis of Assisi and Vince Lombardi:

"Start by doing what's necessary with what we have."

It's so important to have a clear understanding of what we have and what we can do with it. I've spent so many years letting my inner pessimist have his way, sulking in my lack of money, connections, and support (another topic altogether that I'll maybe get into at some point).

I finally had to recognize what I do have -- talent, telephone, Internet, books, magazines, podcasts, support (not from everybody, but that's okay!), family, friends, shelter, food, and water.

And gum. How fat would I be if I didn't have gum?

With libraries and Amazon, we have access to more books than anyone could ever read about acting, directing, writing, producing, editing, and everything else involved in making movies. With iTunes, we have access to dozens of podcasts featuring Hollywood insiders who are already experiencing the success we want to have. With the Internet, we can locate the e-mail address and phone number of every agent and producer from here to Timbuktu. I can't tell you how many letters I've written to Al Gore thanking him for inventing the Internet.

Okay, I can. Zero.

The point is everything is awesome when we're living our dream.

Wait, no it's not. The Lego Movie lied to me! I feel like such a blockhead.

Awesome or not, there are plenty of things we need to do before we can realize our dreams. I will keep reaching out. I will keep writing. I will keep acting. I will keep learning. Over and over and over again.

We can't expect to see tangible progress every day as we pursue our dreams of being a consistently working actor, director, or screenwriter. But at the end of each day, we should rest on our double-decker couches and feel satisfied that we did something to get closer to achieving our dreams. Whether we listen to an educational podcast, read something, reach out to someone, write a few pages, or spend twelve hours on set, we need to take time every single day to further our career.

Not every seed will grow and those that do will do so at different times. But if we are patient and continue to plant them, one day we will reap a harvest more bountiful than anything we could ever have imagined.