I listen to music all the time. Whether it’s in the car, while I’m jogging, or working, there’s always something playing. When it comes to my writing, whatever the project needs dictates the playlist or radio station, and I will stick with that music throughout the creative process. Outside of the actual writing, there are a handful of songs that keep me going throughout the writing process, sort of like a creative cycle mix. Before writing something new I always listen to My First Song by Jay-Z, which is about treating every new project like it’s your first and your last. Another great motivator is The Distance by Cake.
Also on my playlist: Aimee Mann’s Momentum.
The lyrics may be vague but the music is on message: a strong driving beat that propels you; you have no choice but to keep moving forward. Plus, it’s featured in the excellent P.T. Anderson movie Magnolia, not only one of my top ten favorite movies of all time but like Closure, a great film set in The Valley (see what I did there?!?).
This past fall I felt the stars were lining up with my career, and everything was moving forward. Closure screened at three festivals over a five week period, winning five awards total. We signed with a producers rep. Distribution seemed imminent. I started breaking out the story for the next film.
On top of that, my writing career also had momentum. I had staged readings of two different plays, productions of my play IT IS DONE at a lovely 200 seat theater in Raleigh, North Carolina in November and another fantastic production at Theatre40 in Beverly Hills scheduled for January. Starting in late September I had my writing being presented somewhere around the world through February. It was actually happening. There was momentum.
I did a push for agents. Reached out to friends in the business to see if they would connect me with representation. Many people were supportive, but said they couldn’t help (which I totally understand). There were a few people who actively offered to connect me to agents and manager, of which I was thankful.
New Years Eve rolled around. Like any couple with young children, my wife and I had our champagne around 8pm, toasted to a productive, happy and healthy year, and went to bed by ten.
January rolled around… and crickets. The first few weeks are usually quiet in this town as many in the industry get settled after the holidays. Some say that nothing happens until after Sundance. But our phones and email inboxes were silent throughout January.
I distracted myself with the production of IT IS DONE that opened at Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills in the middle of the month, continuing to push for distribution and for an agent. It was all happening at the same time, and I was calling the shots… as long as I remained active.
That was my promise to myself. As long as this show was running I was still active. I diligently pushed for representation, massaged contacts at theaters across the country, and kept hustling for Closure distribution.
Reviews for It is Done were spectacular. Three different theaters expressed interest in mounting their own production, on top of the half dozen contacts I was working on across the country. This was my time to move on to the next level where I would be managing my productions, creating new content, and being paid regularly. I was ready for the next level.
After a fantastic five week run the show closed… and the machinery ground to a halt.
No agent or manager meetings. No word on productions. Distributors for Closure liked the film but were dragging their feet on offers. Our plan for a spring film festival tour evaporated with each rejection. For the first time in over a year I had nothing on the calendar.
And it felt terrible. Despite all the successes of the past year, suddenly I felt obsolete and kept asking myself “is any of this worth it?”
The same went for my wife and our film’s star. Despite the release of the final season of her television show Just Add Magic in January and the upcoming release of a Netflix series of which she will be a recurring guest star, she had nothing going on as well. Zero auditions. And that number is not an exaggeration.
In the days following the closing of my play we’d sit down for dinner and not talk about the zero emails we received during the day. Or the zero phone calls. We also didn’t talk about our mortgage. Or our two young kids and how we were going to provide for them if the phone doesn’t ring.
Days turned into a week. Which turned into weeks. Then a month.
JUST FUCKING RING. One call. One ping in my inbox.
Momentum had ground to a halt.
So what to do? Exercise more and work off the pounds I put on traveling the world with the movie. Write more. I finished a play I had set aside for a year. I outlined and broke out the story for my next screenplay.
And we waited. It’s the worst part of the show biz life when that loud voice in my head says that it’s done. It’s hard to write something new if the universe (or what I think is the universe) screams “nobody cares about you” in my ear.
But I kept writing. Because that’s all I can do.
…the phone rang. First Catia’s phone. An audition. Then another. Then a callback. Then a booking.
Distributors started returning phone calls. And sharing our movie with people in their office.
And we got our next film festival acceptance. We are taking our movie to New York.
Back to the mothership where I lived for over 15 years and where Catia and I met.
And the wheels are turning again! Things are slowly picking up. It’s hard to keep faith when nothing is happening. And it can all go away again, but in the meantime I have to keep up the hustle. Keep writing. And keep working to get as much exposure for this movie as possible.
Hopefully this time the machine doesn’t stop. But if it does, keep the faith that as long as I work at it, something else will come.