This is part II of II on how this story inspired a new perspective on screenwriting, producing, and directing films for me, both in a creative and business sense. It helped me to better appreciate every lesson, and skill I have learned that has made it possible to continue to work in the entertainment industry.
I started out writing short stories when I was a high school freshman. I have always been a book junkie since I can remember and always wanted to be a writer of some sort, even if not professionally. At that time in my life writing a novel was not in the cards. Thinking about writing for film and television never crossed my mind.
I had never submitted a short story to be widely published or given to many people to read. I was satisfied enough going through the writing process. Even if no one read my shorts I was still happy writing them for me. It scratched my creative itch.
Later on I decided I did want to write screenplays. I was clueless on the entire process from the three-act structure to basic formatting. After reading books by Syd Field and Lew Hunter (my favorite authors on screenwriting) I quickly realized that the short stories I had been writing had a natural beginning, middle, and end. I was already using the classic three-act structure and character arcs without knowing it.
I took a few screenwriting workshops where I discovered that scriptwriting software is your best friend. Wasting time on worrying if you are formatting your script correctly is the fastest road to giving up.
After reading “The Alchemist” my perspective on screenwriting grew. It hasn’t changed my own personal writing style or creative voice as a screenwriter. The message of the story does not promise fame and fortune in my opinion, if that is what you are looking for as a writer. What the book did for me was remind me that every event and person you experience you can learn from to make your creative life richer.
All creative encounters and experiences, both good and bad, will help you get where you want to be. I had no idea that by writing short stories I was learning skills to later write movie scripts. After focusing on screenwriting I never thought back to my short story days or appreciated them like I should have. That won’t happen again.
My folded dollar advice to people that want to write a script is simple. Any type of creative writing you have done before from poems to comic book strips will help you when crafting a movie script.
Being a movie producer is very interesting. Producing is one of those life experiences that you will never forget. After writing screenplays I wanted to move into producing. Like with most aspiring producers without Hollywood, Bollywood, or New Zealand Film Commission connections I was going to have to find film funding outside of a major studio system. I pitched film investors like Shelly ‘the Machine’ Levine out of Glengarry Glen Ross.
It was obvious after every meeting that it was like pissing into the wind to find money to make a movie without ever having produced one before. I was going to give up on trying to be a producer and started doing research to write either my first nonfiction novel or a movie script based on gamblers. I wanted whatever story I wrote to be edgy and raw.
I am at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, where the turf meets the surf. I end up meeting two very cool people that I have learned so much from and ended up starting me off as a producer – Howard King and Marcos Fumar (not real name).
When people are having a good time out relaxing, they strike up conversations with strangers. To keep it short. Howard was making money as a residential real estate developer. Marcos owned a growing spice business.
I told them I was a writer and aspiring producer. I won’t lie. I pitched them every script I had. They had no interest in investing in a movie. I told them about my idea for a nonfiction novel on the gambling life. Both had no interest in sharing their gambling stories with me to include in the book.
The only idea I had left to pitch them was a series “America’s Wildest Bachelor Parties” that I had joked with friends about. Howard and Marcos wanted to invest in that. I really wanted to produce movies and not a wild reality series, but this was the only producing opportunity I had.
That is one of the messages that rang true to me in “The Alchemist.” You never can tell what people you are going to meet and how it might get you closer to what you really want to do. I ended up having a great time producing the “America’s Wildest Bachelor Parties” series. Every person involved had fun, especially Howard and Marcos.
After having a meeting with Playboy TV to discuss them acquiring the rights for the series Howard and Marcos saw I could produce. The eventual DVD rights for the series were sold to one distribution company and current video on demand rights are held by another. I had earned credibility with them. Howard and Marcos became two of the main executive producers for the feature film “Consignment.”
What I learned is that you might not always be able to produce something you want to at first. You could have to produce some other type of entertainment before producing a feature film.
I was talking to friend Tim Beachum about the directing style I wanted to take for the next project “Internet Predator.” Eventually, he will write, direct, and edit his own movie. I will be on board as producer when it happens. He asks me a lot questions on my screenwriting and directing techniques. Lately, film directing has been a main topic of conversation.
After reading “The Alchemist” Tim shot me over a video where Will Smith talks about his view on life and shares this quote:
“You don’t try to build a wall. You don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t say ‘I’m going to build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that’s ever been built.’ You don’t start there. You say ‘I’m going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be layed.”‘ You do that every single day, and soon you have a wall.” – Will Smith
I think I understand how Will Smith’s words can apply to directing. You go take by take, scene by scene, until you have finished shooting a movie. With the “Internet Predator” movie Slice Of Americana Films is not setting out to make the greatest psychological thriller that has ever been made, we are going to make the best movie we can with the resources we have.
A movie director that can stay focused on each take and scene, without looking too far ahead will have fun and enjoy the process of creating, while doing great work. This is indie filmmaker Sid Kali typing: Fade Out Part II of II of The Alchemist & The Filmmaker. Thanks again Tim for the gift of the book.
This is indie filmmaker typing FADE OUT