Chronicles of a Fledgling Filmmaker: "Luck Ain't Even Lucky"
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The moral of this week’s column is: Do NOT depend on luck to get you anywhere.
Anyone who recognizes the line I used for the title of this segment gets three hundred points!
For everyone else, that, my friends, is a line from a Bon Jovi song called “It’s My Life.” Why is this important? ...Maybe because I was belting it out at the top of my lungs while I was driving away from Longview, WA forever to begin my life down here in Los Angeles. Oh yes, I lived out that cliched movie scene for real, and I am not ashamed to admit it!
I’ve chosen that particular line because I really, really hate it when people tell me that my success has anything to do with luck. I realize that some people do simply get lucky, but waiting for some famous director to magically discover you and beg you to star in his film with twinkling anime eyes -- let’s face it, guys, that’s probably not going to happen. I think you’d have better odds of winning the lottery.
Speaking of, I do not win lotteries. I’m the person whose dad put strings of scratch tickets in her stocking each Christmas only to wind up with a pile of duds while her siblings raked in the dough. To not win a single ticket should’ve been impossible, statistically speaking, but that’s the type of luck I generally have. I mean, I have three siblings, three, and yet I managed to inherit every genetic health mess that both sides of my parentage had to offer (I suffer from bad feet, knees, a trick tendon in my wrist, blown eardrums from multiple ear infections, kidney stones, a heart condition that’ll put me in the ER if I consume too much caffeine, even in the form of chocolate, and I have to get tumors surgically removed every once in awhile, but - hey! - at least I can walk around without spraining an ankle!). Then, of course, there’s ol’ Murphy with his Laws who likes to treat me like his own personal punching bag every so often (but we all experience that here and there, so I won’t claim to be anything special in that sense). The point is, I don’t “luck” well. Or at all. So while I do believe that power of the mind and positive thinking can lead to good things, you will never see me depending solely on that concept. Good things do come to those who wait, but not if the only thing you’re doing is waiting, especially for someone like me.
So, how then, did being fan geek #15,462,223,942 lead me to a career in film? Simple. I looked for it. You'd think that was obvious, but not everyone does it. I knew a guy for a few months who started off pretty similar to me - older, moved down from out of state to pursue a career in film, got himself a Clark Kent job to survive, all that jazz - and then he spent all his free time in cafes writing. Which, in itself, isn’t a problem. I spend most of my free time writing, as well. Writers do that (except I do it holed up in my little Marvel-cave of a bedroom instead of coffee shops because, you know, the caffeine issue). The problem was, that was all he did. That, and cycling through self-help and positive thinking seminars. I’m not slamming on that, but if that’s all it really took to get into the film industry, we’d all be happily famous within the first few weeks of repeating morning affirmations into our mirrors. Needless to say, while he was stoked for me when I was able to get my foot in the door after only a year and a half of working at it, I could tell that he was a bit miffed at his own lack of success. It wasn’t too much longer before he moved back home to pursue something else, but it wasn’t because he wasn’t talented or didn’t work hard at his craft. It was because he didn’t look for a reason to get his work out there.
I, on the other hand, was looking almost every day. A good portion of my time was spent on job boards and internet hangouts and talking to all the other people at my Clark Kent job who were also just there to make a living until they could Superman the hell out of there, always looking for what I could apply to or get myself involved in that might get me somewhere. I found a person who told me about a few online social networks for filmmakers, which was great because I’m quite shy by nature in person, but I’m a total social butterfly on the internet. After making my general presence known on the sites I signed up for, one of them eventually posted something on their job board that they were looking for a “creative blogger.” I already mentioned that I had experience blogging in my past with an entertainment review site, so I figured the job might be worth looking into. What it turned out being was a call for creative writers who could blog as the characters of a web series.
This was me at the time: *blink, blink* ...What? Is this...is this a real thing? Like, my history as a fan fiction writer and for managing role play Twitter accounts from Wizards of Waverly Place and maybe even my stint as Queen of all of Washington and Oregon in a medieval LARP could actually land me a job?!?
And it did! You better believe I tailored my resume to include all of my role play geek stuff, and included links to my fan fiction stories that could display my ability to capture character voice, and it definitely helped that my life as an Internet hermit gave me the skill set to build social network accounts for all the characters on pretty much every platform available. I mean, the job was pretty much made for someone like me, and I got it no problem. Am I bragging? Yes. And I have every right to. Fangeeking of that nature takes serious time and effort, people! The folks who hired me recognized that, and continue to recognize other skills that I was able to bring to table even today. Yep, two years later and I’m still happily with the same company, but more than as a role play blogger now. I’ve actually become an official writer on their productions, which we’ll hopefully be seeing in the near future. *fingers crossed!*
Now some of you may be thinking at this point that I was just in the right place at the right time, so therefore I should still attribute my job to luck. To that I say, “Seriously?” If that’s how you think, then you’re giving luck far too much credit. I was in the right place at the right time because I put myself there. I put myself everywhere, and then I made myself stand out, and then I waited for something good to come of it...if “waiting” means I continued to hunt down new leads elsewhere while continually circling back to the old ones to see if they were getting me anywhere.
So the moral of this week’s column is: Do NOT depend on luck to get you anywhere! Get yourself out there. Get involved where you can. Most importantly, keep your eyes peeled for that golden opportunity, because odds are that it isn’t going to come looking for you.