The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, June 23, 2005

First Movie Deal

Well, it looks as if Tananarive and I have our first movie deal.  More as it develops, but both agents, Nia Hill (our producer), Blair Underwood (our other producgn partner) agree that a particular deal we were offered looks best.  So...we've given our representation permission to move forward.  Like I said, more as it develops.
I put a sign up in my office that says the following (a quote from a self-improvement book I recently acquired):  "the grateful mind is constantly fixed upon te best; therefore it tends to become the best; it takes the form of character of the best, and will receive the best."

There are, indeed, two different kinds of people in the world.  One, when you suggest a project or an approach that might bring them greater health or happiness, will tell you all the reasons it won't work, and you will end up in an argument, trying to offer them resources and help them be more flexible.  It's hell.  The other says: hmm.  How can I make this work? and starts looking for solutions. 

1) I've never met a human being who didn't have a perfect set of reasons to be a failure.  Too old, rich (!), black, poor, gay, female, short, whatever.  Not one.  Everyone has some set of reasons that life isn't going to work out.  and you can always find a pity party ready to agree.

2) I've never met someone with nothing to offer, someone who genuinely had no path to success.  I remember a woman talking about how she had a friend who was quite ugly.  I believe there was fire scarring involved, and would therefore not be able to find a man.  this, she said, disproved my idea that everyone can be happy.  My immediate response was that if I was that woman, I would get a job at the Braille institute, and find a really nice blind guy.  She was thunderstruck.  How could I even SUGGEST such a thing?  Because I play to win, that's why.  I don't play to make other peole happy, or to salve my ego.  I play to accomplish the goals that I've chosen and maintained over the years, and that means that I have to keep going no matter what.
When Tananarive, Nicki, Jason and I moved donw here to Southern California, my plan was to write for television until I found a route to work in film.  My plans were COMPLETELY blown out of the water because:
1) my previous television credits were so long ago, they didn't help me.
2) the entire game in television has changed--they don't hire freelancers.  The work is all being done on staff.
3) The television shows don't hire anyone for staff who is over 40.
I panicked.  This was an unmitigated disaster.  My entire strategy had to be re-framed, and I had to FORCE myself ot look for hte spaces between the trees, otherwise I would crash and burn.  The first thing I had to do was resolve not to take it personally.  This had nothign to do with me--it was just a situation.
Secondly, I had to be very clear on my intent.  To win.  To survive long enough to get into the movie business.  This ran into other problems.  I was unable to make contact with anyone who would hire me (despite interesting promises before I moved here.  Hmmm.) and evey possibility for interem money seemed to fall apart.
Third, I had to have a great stress-coping mechanism.  without it, I would have been crushed.  Brothers and sisters, this was where the FIVE MINUTE MIRACLE was absolutely a life-saver.  Five times a day, I used the breathing technique, and then kept barreling forward on my projects, keeping clear-eyed and sober, and progressing.  Taking meetings.  That was anightmare, because I couldn't let my partners, or the folks I was pitching to, suspect how desperate we were.  for Five months I struggled with this.  and then...about two months ago the clouds began to part, and the sun began to shine. 
I would never have survived without the support of family and friends, and my ability to keep my mind on what I WANTED to happen, rather than the potential disasters.  I couldn't directly control my career arc, but I coujld work on my spiritual/personal life, and my fitness.  and I did.  the two-thirds of my tripod kept me alive long enough to meet Steven Spielberg, long enough to get my first movie deal, long enough to be able to take a deep, deep  breath. 
and I wanted to thank all of you.  Being able ot make a core dump of my thoughts every day is a life-saver.  I don't know wht will happen from here, but I'll keep you posted, and say more as it is politic to do so.  but thanks, guys.  Hang on.  It's going to be an interesting ride!


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