Thursday, November 15, 2001

Milestones



I passed another milestone this month. Turned forty-two. Ever notice how similar "milestone" is to "gravestone?" I never picked up on that before. I guess as you get older you become more aware of things like that.

A lot has happened this year. For me, one big change was deciding to make a movie. I always used to think that I wanted to be a writer. I tried writing novels for a while, then some short stories, then a couple of plays. One time I actually had some poems published in the Connecticut River Review of Poetry. You may have seen them.

I tried songwriting for a while, wrote about fifty or sixty songs, made some demo tapes and sent them around. At one time I was playing three open-mikes a week and even had a few paid gigs here and there. Perhaps the pinnacle of my musical career was playing "Levi" in Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for three weeks at the Stony Creek Puppethouse Theater. I sang, I danced, I played guitar and harmonica: I stole the show.

My greatest claim to fame, however came as a result of a challenge presented to me by my pal Beck Lee who dared me to enter a contest for the "Funniest Unemployed Person" at a comedy club in Manhattan. My resulting stand-up routine may not have won the contest, but it did catch the attention of a New York Times reporter, who described me as "ashen-faced" and "terror-struck." In addition to that glowing report, I was also featured in a piece by a CNN correspondent that ran repeatedly during that holiday weekend. Weren't Mom and Dad proud to see me on TV with the words "Unemployed Comic" emblazoned across the screen?

It was about that time that I read my first screenplay, "Thelma and Louise." My then roommate, Jon Sperry had left it lying around the apartment and I flipped through it, thinking "this looks easy -- I could do this!" And sure enough, a mere three and a half years later I'd already cranked out my first script. I kept at it with diligence, perseverance and deluded enthusiasm until I had churned out eight more scripts and whittled my writing time down to a phenomenal eight days! I knew it was time to move to Hollywood.

Coming out here was a turning point in my life. I had decided to dedicate myself to becoming a successful screenwriter. I took meetings, attended industry parties, made key contacts and learned how to schmooze. I followed the trades, logged onto screenwriter-oriented websites and started work on a new quirky-edgy-drama-comedy. But I still felt like I was on the outside looking in. How long would it take for these Bozos to notice me?

About a year ago I started thinking about what was holding me back. After making my way through the usual list of excuses (which is no small task) I finally came to the realization that I was holding myself back. I tried to imagine what I would be doing if I was doing what I really wanted. The answer I came up with was: making a movie.

Today I met with a guy who was temping in our office for a while. He's putting out his own CD that has a beautiful title song called "Ten Times." He saw my movie and asked me to help him make a video. We are going to begin shooting this weekend. It's not a major production by a long shot, but it's going to be pretty cool.

I guess passing "milestones" ain't so bad, it beats passing gallstones for one thing. Plus, as long as you keep moving forward there's always the possibility of encountering new stuff along the way. I don't know what I'll find between here and the next milestone. Could be something pretty cool.

Love, HWD

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