My wife and I currently have 79 movies in our Netflix DVD queue. At the rate we watch DVDs, provided we do not add any more movies to the list, we will not get around to watching the last movie on the list (Kon Tiki) until July…2016. Please, no one spoil the movie for me (or spoil who the presidential nominees are likely to be).
Of course, like any normal person, the queue is filled with movies that I have very little intention of seeing. When I first got Netflix, back in 2006-ish, I added movies that were recently out that I might want to see. One of those was Lord of War, a Nicholas Cage thriller about illegal arms dealing. Sounded interesting to me. I like the director, Andrew Niccol. Put it on the list. In the six-ish years I’ve been a Netflix subscriber, that movie has never been in my top 20. It is currently nestled at number 53 on my list, just behind The Changeling and just ahead of Spartacus. Of course, like any normal account, when something new or intriguing is released, it magically jumps to the top of the list. Nic Cage and Angelina are going to live in purgatory for a while. After further review, Spartacus will move up the list; it deserves a spot in the top 40.
I thought of the Netflix queue when assessing my own writing career. I am very fortunate in that some people believe I have the skills to create a worthy script. Since landing in Los Angeles I have been very busy, and getting busier each month. It is exciting to be considered for varied and interesting creative projects, and I am hesitant to say no to anyone at this point of my career. Knowing I can only work two scripts at a time without my brain imploding, other projects are now lining up in a to-do queue. However, not all the jobs presented to me are equal. Projects have to be prioritized, and here is how I decide where on my queue projects will land:
1) Money jobs. That’s easy. If you are paying me to write, then you move to the top of my list. The two current projects at the top of my list are paying gigs. A no brainer. Daddy needs to keep caviar and lobster on the table.
2) Passion projects. Ideas that I have had, for film and theater, that I want to see realized completely and, at least in the writing phase, without collaboration. The reason for this blog, for example. Plus, there are two plays that I am working on, one needing revisions, the other needing a second act. While I may not direct or produce these plays myself, they are important to me and need to get out of my head and into the world.
3) Scripts with a mission. Not a political or social mission, but the person bringing the project to me has to be on a mission. It could be a director I respect who is looking for a new project. Or a producer who has the means to get a project made. Or a slightly famous actor looking for the right vehicle. Or a co-writer who can get the script read by important people. I’m sure there are dozens more examples that will fit into this category, and I look forward to discovering them.
4) So your cousin’s best friend’s wife’s nephew has a great idea for a script and he’s looking to break into Hollywood. His grammar is terrible, and he has never held down a job, but can you help him write it? Maybe. Never say never…but here’s my warning: it might get Nic Caged.
I’m not being passive or taking on projects and then giving them the runaround. I am open and honest with the people who want me to write for them. They know my priorities, and they know that when their project comes up in the queue, I will be ready to give it my full attention and create the best script that I can…
…and Nic willing, I’ll keep getting great opportunities to write great scripts.