The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, June 07, 2013

The Hero Makes a Movie Step 2: Rejection of the Challenge

All right, the first step was to recognize that there was a problem, an opportunity, and something that could be done.   Once we acknowledge that, why don’t we act?  That leads us to:

2) Rejection of the challenge.   I could have done this years ago.   Why hadn’t I?   Well…I’d defined myself as a writer.  Not a producer or a director.  Done a small amount of stunt choreography, but that was it, really.   So the fear associated with the rejection was “am I that person? Do I have the energy to do this?   Will it be a distraction from the critical path I need to reach my goals?”  Really a version of “who am I?” and “what is true?” which are the most important questions in life.

What are some of the most common reasons I see that people are paralyzed?   

1) If I try, I’ll be disappointed.  Children will fall down a thousand times just to take a single step.  If they were as easy to discourage as adults, we’d all be crawling to work.

2) Everyone who accomplishes this goal betrays their ethics.  Really?   Everyone?   Geeze, I’d bet that there are ethical hit men and Mafia dons out there, if you looked carefully enough.  You really chose a profession or hobby where everyone who succeeds is a sell-out selfish bastard?  Really?  If that’s what you think, you have some seriously damaged emotional filters. That’s just not reality.

3) Everyone who succeeds at this has resources I do not have.  Really?  Everyone?  Not a single person has ever succeeded at this starting from where you started?  People have risen from nothing to become leaders in any field you can think of: acting, athletics, business, politics, the arts, the sciences.    And if you can find ONE person who was as bad—or worse—off as you, and made it, it punctures that belief.  And the chances are that there are a LOT more than one person, especially if you are willing to look at parallel fields.  No one has ever published a Western Novel about Sioux Indians protecting a Gold Mine in Wyoming in April of 1866 while it’s raining in Kansas City and a Mule is giving birth to a rabbit in Boston Commons?   Well…maybe we need to back off that level of specificity a bit.  Oh!  Here’s one with a mule that gave birth to a rabbit on a ship in Boston Harbor.    Maybe that will suffice as a role model..?  Ya think?  

4) I’m too old, too young, too female, too black, too gay, too poor, too uneducated, too…too…whatever.   Yeah.  But if one person ever did it starting from where you are, you’re just accepting an excuse.

You have to remember there is a part of you that is going to throw up every possible negative reason, every pain, every threat, try to convince you that IT IS IMPOSSIBLE.  And if you can’t find a square inch of open space, of blue sky, can’t remember the times in your life you thought I CAN’T! And did it anyway…you don’t have a prayer.

First, you have to control your state.  Your belief.  You have to focus on what you want, and why you want it.

Put your love in front of you, your fear behind you, and run like hell.

Had other people made shorts?   Yes.
Had other people used shorts to leverage their way to features?  Yes.
Did I have resources in my mind and heart that I had not used in my writing career that I might apply to this?  Yes.
Was it in alignment with my values and dreams?  Yes.
Did I have allies who had the skills and experience I lacked?  Yes.
Did it sound like fun?  Heck, yes.

And…here’s a big one.  When faced with the question “should I or shouldn’t I take this risk?”   Ask yourself one important question: “how long am I going to be dead?”

If the answer to that question doesn’t get you up and moving, you may already be shuffling and moaning for brains.

When it comes right down to it, isn’t ONE of the reasons zombies are popular because we fear not death so much as LIVING DEATH?  The “negation of the negation?”   Lurching through the world in dreadful imitation of life, going through the motions?  Infecting our loved ones with our own emotional rot?   Tearing down the living?  Becoming a shell of the vibrant, hopeful, optimistic beings we used to be?  Allowing our fears, doubts, resentments, angers, false self image and ego shell to keep us from accomplishing what we wanted in childhood?

Isn’t that more terrifying?  I am not a zombie, damn it.  The little kid who began this journey is still inside me.  He plays with Jason every day.  He still loves THE AVENGERS and JOHNNY QUEST.  Still likes crawling on the floor and playing with kittens.   HE’S STILL THERE.  And damn it, I know that if I gave him that gift, the gift of trying, no matter what happened, he will reward me with smiles and love and creativity and energy.

So…yes, I had doubts.  And fears.  And questions.   But also knew that if I didn’t try, I’d be betraying something deep and precious within me.  

Say it with me, now, and aloud:    I will NOT feed my child to the zombies.  I will NOT voluntarily join the living dead!   I will fight and scratch and work and pray and love and live for my dreams, every damned day.   They can break down the door, but I will NOT open the door for them.   And by God, before they get me I’ll jump out the window and laugh all the way down to the sidewalk, saying “what a rush!”

Because this is the only life I have.   And I will not live it by anyone else’s rules.
Damn it, I’m gonna make a #$%^^ movie!



Anonymous said...

A timely warning. Thank you Steve!

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Jim said...

That one rings terribly clear to me. It's one of the things that got me back up on a bodybuilding stage in 2010, after having last set foot there in 1972.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...
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