Lottery Tickets

I just returned from a 48-hour quickie vacation in Las Vegas with my wife and her parents. They were there for the World of Concrete convention. We helped them take down their display after the convention, shared a few wonderful meals, and my father-in-law and I both made cameo appearances in the Cirque du Soleil show O.

Outside of one sports bet, I didn’t do any gambling.

I like those odds

I like those odds

Nothing against gambling; I enjoy losing hours at the Blackjack table. However, at the time of this trip finances are tighter and I can’t justify throwing away $100+ when I’m not making as much money as I would like right now.

Besides, my entire career is based on gambling. Any career in the arts is a gamble, a lifetime of freelancing where if all goes extremely well you can find security for 12 to 18 months with a long touring gig, a TV writing assignment, an arc on a sitcom, or a variety of other highly rewarding jobs that at their best, will give you a financial cushion down the road when you are back looking for jobs. If you are not Pat Sajak or a cast member of Sesame Street, then you are likely looking for work now or in the near future.

This is why I refer to my scripts as lottery tickets. Whenever I write a script, I try to not think of the endgame…the success, the accolades, the long life of each project, but it’s hard to not imagine what would happen with a touch of success. The odds are long, which is why more tickets mean more chances. I’m not advocating spending time and resources to create a bunch of mediocre lottery tickets, but now when I have an idea, I start putting it into action, and damn the consequences.

When I was a younger writer, I toiled on a screenplay that I knew would be my big break. I spent the better part of two years writing, rewriting, having table reads, re-editing, re-imagining, and doing everything I could to make this script elevate my career. Despite favorable responses in the industry, I realized that one script does not a career make. Very few people had their first script launch them into the stratosphere. More often, the first script to become successful is built on the backs of other scripts and projects. Usually, when someone in the entertainment industry reads a script they ask “what else do you have” regardless of whether they enjoyed the script or not. People want to know that you have an arsenal. People want to know that you are in it for the long haul.

Some of my lottery tickets have paid off. Not on the Powerball level, but I am happy to say that most have come up a winner, and many of them continue to pay off. This new film script is another lottery ticket. It’s not my only ticket. It’s not even the only script I’m working on at this moment. But one of these tickets is going to pay off big.