I don’t live in the past that much, depending on your definition of that. I don’t try to find my answers for tomorrow by examining the past. I am not who I was, and looking back means you aren’t facing today or the morrow. I do on occasion forget an interesting story or two from the past. I was just prompted to remember something interesting.
I was living in this house on Indianola Avenue in the somewhat more bohemian part of Central Ohio dubbed “Clintonville”, which isn’t even a suburb, but more of a district of Columbus. My roommates were a life long female friend and our pessimistic IT techie friend. I was just starting to figure out I wasn’t doing what I was meant to do.
At this point, I was a licensed broker selling stocks and bonds for a giant evil corporate machine, today known as CHASE, but back then it was BANK ONE here in Ohio. I had started writing screenplays, inspired by the indie film revolution of the early 1990’s with Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Edward Burns, and Richard Linklater. I thought the best course of action was to sell a screenplay to Hollywood for a modest sum of something like $100,000 (because of the prevalent myth that screenwriters make $1,000,000 for screenplays!). I’d live off of half and make an indie feature film for the remaining $50,000.
I came close several times too. I optioned screenplays for tens of dollars. Met with production companies with deals “on the lot” as it were. The most memorable one though was this. I came home from the brokerage firm after a long tedious day of sending fed fund wires from hedge funds to rich people, and there was a message blinking on the machine. I pressed the button and it was a voice from the SEAGAL-NASSO COMPANY, which was Steven Seagal’s production company at the time. They wanted to discuss buying my spec script called DAEDALUS. They liked it a lot and Steven Seagal was interested in producing and starring in the movie.
Before I even had a chance to process this, my IT roommate came home. I told him to listen to this message. He pressed play and then looked me dead in the eye and said “Hollywood’s buying any generic piece of shit these days, aren’t they?“. Before I let this knock me over, I started chuckling. Why? Because he had never read the script. Didn’t know anything about it.
I later did a conference call with several people at the company, including the man ABOVE THE LAW, Seagal himself. In the end, they passed on the script. I had written an ensemble piece and the changes they (meaning the dude that was MARKED FOR DEATH himself) wanted to make to the script were to make this World War II B-17 bomber crew and turn it into a “one man against Hitler’s army” kind of thing. I said it wasn’t really something I could adapt to that since it was an ensemble piece. Little did I know the movie industry parlance that I just lost the sale because I wasn’t a “team player“. They never told me that, but I’ve since learned that in that industry, you have to be willing to collaborate (meaning do whatever the people with money want). I just got a form letter shortly after saying they were no longer interested in the script.
So what did I learn from this? Do not rely on anyone else to make you happy. No one else defines success FOR YOU. I still love my friend even after that somewhat shitty reaction to a big deal for me. Some people can only see their own reflection on the world. Don’t let anyone bring you down or let their negativity affect your life.
Also, Steven Seagal is not nearly the douchebag he seems on TV.