Thursday, March 29, 2012

Networking your way to Hollywood from an office cubicle

Sometimes you need some inspiration to keep plugging as a writer - and this week saw two online examples of people "just doing it". Of talent rising to the surface. And how taking some small but important leaps of faith can pay off.

First, the story of this guy: James Erwin was writing software manuals in an office in Iowa when he commented on a random question on Reddit. The question was, "Could I destroy the entire Roman Empire during the reign of Augustus if I traveled back in time with a modern U.S. Marine infantry battalion or MEU [Marine Expeditionary Unit]?” James, a military history geek in his spare time, wrote a six paragraph response with a hypothetical example of a U.S. military unit in Afghanistan finding itself transported back to Ancient Rome.

Within three hours, a film producer had contacted him, intrigued by his concept and his tight writing style. Within weeks, he had been offered a deal to write a movie based on his Reddit posts. James has now taken a leave of absence from his job to become a full-time Hollywood screenwriter. And all because of some (previously unusable) military history knowledge, some ingenuity and some genuine writing talent.

Then, Persephone Vandegrift's success on the Stage32 site (which I highly recommend). Persephone commented on another writer's historical film project - again, out of genuine shared interest - and this led to an online conversation with the project's producer, which eventually led to her being hired to write a historical miniseries on World War Two. This is particularly impressive because she did not have experience of writing for TV, but the two writing samples she sent on convinced the production company that she had the required skills.

Both of these writers were proactive, took risks and followed their passion. Reading their stories certainly gave me a kick in the pants - I can see that I need to take more chances and get my work in front of more eyes, even highly critical ones. Producers aren't telepathic and will not know about my great scripts unless I put them out there. Time to take a leap...


Persephone Vandegrift said...

Wow - thank you for this shout out sister! You are fantastic and it's great to have a chance to inspire and be re-inspired by each other :-) You're going to do it, I know you are.

eilism said...

No worries - thanks for the inspiration, gotta keep trucking!