I had a bit of a weird day yesterday, apart from the whole stamps issue; which was really a minor wobble caused by a period of emotional instability … your honour.

I started in a good mood: I’m working on a feature project – that’s good. Someone’s paying me to do it – that’s even better. I had a couple of calls about other work – that’s positively excellent.

Working, getting paid for it and hope for the future: a good position to be in, I’m very happy. In a moment of idle browsing, it all came crashing down.

I was thinking about a script I read recently, which was really good; but I felt flapped a little bit on the change of the acts. To me, it felt like you could end the script at either point and gone away happy – which I don’t think is right. I feel these are the points where if you stop, people should get angry.

I sent off my opinions, which were gratefully received (although it’s hard to see gritted teeth through an email) and I went on with my life.

But then I started wondering.

I know the writer of this script is friends with Mark Mahon, and I’d hung out with Mark for a couple of nights in Cannes, I wondered: did he like it?

Apparently he did, a lot. Quite a lot in fact. Bordering on loads, by the sound of it.

This doesn’t worry me unduly, the industry’s all about opinions, after all. You can send a script to two people and one will love it, the other hate it. Neither opinion is necessarily right or wrong; but if I was the writer in question, I’d go with the award-winning writer’s opinion and ignore me.

I remember talking to Mark, he’s a good guy and has done really well for himself; but I don’t really know much about him apart from what he told me.

Hell, I tell people all sorts of shit. I told the entire Romanian pavilion at Cannes I was the best writer in the UK. I also told a Polish producer I’d won a ‘Best Newcomer’ award for screen writing – neither of these claims are true.

Well, the first one might be. I’m still working on it.

And to be fair, the second one started as a joke which got carried on too far and the opportunity to reveal it was a gag/lie never arose. (If you ever read this blog, sorry! There was a punchline attached which never survived the sudden shift in conversation.)

So anyway, I thought I’d check Mark Mahon out, see if I could substantiate any of the things we were chatting about and I found this article here.

And instantly felt really, really depressed.

What the fuck have I been doing with my life? This guy’s made some serious progress, what he’s achieved is incredible and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

I’ve never pursued this contest/spec script/make your own movie route. Partly because it seems too unrealistic – kind of walking in at the top. Yeah, you hear about people doing it, but surely the larger percentage of working writers start small and build up? There’s something about aiming for the top without working your way up which really jars with me. Plus, I don’t think I’m good enough yet.

I know I’m not a genius scriptwriter, I just don’t have that spark – but I am good at what I do. I seem to be slightly better than average, people do like my work and that’s good enough for me. I’m quite happy to pay my dues and get better with time.

Then I read about someone like Mark and the reality hits me – there are people who write scripts which blow people away first time. Writers who are infinitely better than me and it starts me wondering: am I pursuing the wrong path? Should I ditch all the low paid projects I’m doing and concentrate on that killer spec which will bag me respect and awards? Is it better to build up a raft of low budget credits or keep pushing for that one break-through idea?

It was about this time I realised I’d run out of stamps. Hence the low self-esteem induced hissy fit. I really must remember not to blog when I’m angry.

My self-loathing lasted most of the night. I went to Kung Fu and the teacher was running late, so I ran the first half of the class and took it out on the students.

When I got home I had a whole bunch of emails from the producer of ‘The Summoning’: Jonathan Sothcott. They contained a bunch of photos of the cast for me to put on my website. With each attachment I opened I felt better and better about myself and my work. All these people like the film enough to want to be in it, I can’t be that bad.

This is the list so far:

Gary Kemp, Martin Kemp, Adele Silva, Anna Brecon, Gillian MacGregor, Terry Stone, Paul Marc Davis and Hugo Myatt (Look! It’s Treguard!).

And these are just the ones who’ve confirmed so far. There are quite a few others on the list who are apparently up for it (and being in the film – ha! Never pass up the opportunity for a Carry On gag).

There are photos of them all, arranged in a neat pyramid, on my website here; but if you want the full effect, go through the front door:

www.phillipbarron.co.uk >Projects>Feature Films>Pre-Production>The Summoning.

All of a sudden, life is looking rosy again. I finished the day as I started: on a high, pleased with the way my career is moving ahead. Yeah it’s slow and I’m not leap-frogging straight to Hollywood fame. I doubt very much I’ll be interviewed by any scriptwriting magazines in the imminent future, but you know what? I don’t care.

I’m doing something I love – no wait, I’m getting paid to do something I love and with so many projects on the go, one of them’s bound to get made soon and who knows where that will lead?

All in all, life is good.

Categories: Career Path, Random Witterings, Sad Bastard | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Hi-lo-hi

  1. Gordon Robertson

    I think it’s a question of balance, Phill. You just need to work out how many jobs you can accept that’ll still leave you enough time to work on your magnum opus (or opuses; or should that be opii?). Building up a fairly hefty CV not only puts bread on the table (although I put mine in the fridge; where do you put yours, film/bread fans?), it also strengthens your case when it comes to dropping that opus of yours into a producer’s in-box. I’ve had a producer tell a director friend of mine that the funding application he wanted to submit for a project we were working on together should be in my name, not his, as I’d be considered ‘the talent’ because I’ve got BBC credits to my name and a current continuous stream (so far so good) of material being filmed or performed on stage.

    That’s kinda how I’m working it at the moment: taking on jobs that’ll bring in money and keep my name in the frame, while still leaving me time to write my wonderful breakthrough feature, which I can then send out smothered in lovely tangy CV sauce.

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