The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Danger Word Step #1: Confronted with Challenge

 We’re doing this in plain sight, so that people can see just how far we get, and the attitudes, actions and strategies we used. Then they can either follow, or learn from our mistakes as they navigate their own paths.  The truth is that the process looked one way BEFORE we began.   It looks a different way now.  And after this process is complete, and whatever DANGER WORD is, and if it does or does not morph into the DEVIL’S WAKE feature we would like to do next year…after this is done, the process will have yet another complexion.  I swore that if you guys supported this, we would share EVERYTHING, without reservation.  In this way you can not only see the mistakes and solutions we create or encounter, but you will be able to see in real-time how the “Hero’s Journey” pattern I’ve taught for over 20 years applies to real-world situations.

No b.s.  No hiding.  When we finish the 15 minute film WHICH IS CERTAIN AT THIS POINT we will be able to finalize this portion of the process, and formalize a teaching.  Then, of course, we’ll be maneuvering to use that as a stepping stone to making a feature—either ourselves, or in partnership with investors and/or a studio.    But it is worthwhile to begin the documentation process now, only a few days before our first Trailer is complete (and you’re going to LOVE IT!)  So let’s take a look at the 10-step “Hero’s Journey” as applied to this particular situation.

1) Confronted with Challenge.   During the Octavia Butler symposium, we were faced with talented young artists who had made short films.   I watched a bunch of them.  Some were VERY impressive, some…not so much.  Some seemed expensive (at least in terms of skills and talent) others very budget-conscious.  And what occurred to me was: wait a #$% minute.  “We could do this. In our circle are all the skills and resources we need.  Do I want to do this?”

And yes, I did.  And do.  Since childhood, I’ve wanted a feature film with my name on it.  Watched movies with the kind of simple joy one rarely finds in life, and has never ever left me.  I wanted it.   What has the result been?   Twenty-eight novels, about twenty hours of produced television scripts.   A handful of films in development, but never produced.  A credit as “creative consultant” on “The Secret of NIMH.”   Creating the bible for a series of Swedish ninja movies (!) starring Chuck Conners (!!).  In many ways, I accomplished more than I’d dreamed of as a child…but one dream remained.  And remains.  We watched movies in development at different studios, getting paid but without positive result.

I ran into executive after executive politely asking “if we could change the race of the lead character.”  Not HIS preference, you know.  It’s the audience…

When supporting T’s projects, I had the humiliation of a production executive basically asking who the hell I was, and would I please shut up during the brainstorming sessions.  And I shut up.  Because I wanted my baby to get her dream onscreen.  But God, it hurt so badly.  I just had to sit on it.

Could I accept this challenge?  Was there more potential pleasure than pain here?  Yes.   But the conflict remained…

More tomorrow.

1 comment:

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