A break. Usually it's a good thing. Something to be desired, unless of course, the break being discussed involves a personal appendage. In that case most people will take a pass, unless of course the person in question happens to be an actor, and the appendage to be broken is a leg. But, in most cases, everybody needs a break. This includes the late Nell Carter, who would go so far as to ask for said break in no uncertain terms. One might even say she demanded one, singing loudly "Gimme a Break" on a weekly basis for several years back in the eighties. Now, as a person who dreams of going from an aspiring, to a real live, honest to goodness, filmmaker; I have always known that I would need some sort of "break". How that break would come, or what form it would take has always been a mystery, but if one is going to make it in the movie biz, eventually one's work is going to need to be seen by someone else who can help the first person to be seen at a theater near you, (or at least somewhere more prevalent than their parent's living room). You're not let into the business, you gotta break in! So, gentle reader, I'm sure you can only imagine my surprise when I found that my "big break" was just waiting for me one day on the Internet.
As part of my journey to become a real live, honest to goodness, filmmaker I find I watch a lot of shows about movies and the movie business. It makes me feel connected, like I'm "in the know". Which actor just got cast in what film, who's directing, and who wrote the script, is all information that makes me feel like a true Hollywood Insider. I must be a filmmaker, I knew who the next Spider-man was going to be a few hours before people who really don't care. To that end, there are several shows I watch on a regular basis, and being a true insider (and a bit of a geek) some of those shows are on the World Wide Web. One such show is Beyond the Trailer, hosted by Grace Randolph. If you've never heard of it, feel free to check it out HERE. On the show, Grace usually interviews movie goers after they have seen the latest movies and asks them to rate them on a scale of one to ten. It's interesting to see what certain people like or don't like about the different movies, and see what attracted them to the movies in the first place. But, what makes the show a must watch (at least for those pretending to be Hollywood Insiders) is the research that Grace does about the movies. Before talking with movie patrons, Grace does a monologue about each film, talking about the directors, the cast, and the producers. She gives information about how their previous movies have performed at the box office, what hopes have been placed on this latest movie, and any trends that might support or go against these hopes. In fact she does a special addition of the show every Sunday named Beyond the Trailer: Movie Math where topics such as these are discussed at more length. I really enjoy Grace's down to earth approach and insight into box office trends. Her show is a "must watch" for me each week. It just so happens that on August 13th, when I was clicking on what I thought was a new episode of Movie Math, Grace announced that AMC movie theaters were going to give me My Big Break, (and might I just add, it was about time)!
The announcement was, more specifically, for the "Your Big Break" movie contest that was being sponsored by Rogue Pictures, and AMC Independent. In a nutshell, the winner of the contest would have their finished feature length movie placed in fifty AMC movie theaters around the country. They were offering a way to get a completely obscure, no movie stars, made on a shoe string budget film, a chance to be played in real live, honest to goodness, movie theaters around the country! This was a contest that I could get very excited about... if were taking place six months down the line.
While The Screenwriter's Workbook had helped my writing process a great deal, and I was making forward progress on my screenplay, as I sat in front of my computer on August 13th I still only had twenty-five pages or so written. I had been doing a fair amount of writing, but a lot of that writing was in the form of exercises and outlines recommended by the Workbook. The deadline for the contest was October 15th. I knew there was no way I could have a finished film to submit by the deadline, given the fact I only had a first draft of the first act on paper.
Oh well, such is life. There would be other opportunities. A little sad that I was going to miss this one, I decided to read through the posted comments to see how others were reacting. Grace gets a lot of comments on her videos, but she usually takes the time to respond to the first several if they are made in the first hour or two after she has posted the episode. I happened upon a comment made by superguy15847 (I made that name up, I don't remember the actual screen name), where in he said something like, "Man! There's no way I could get my movie made in time to make the deadline"!!!!!
"Well said, superguy15847, you and me both.", I thought to myself. Then I read Grace's response.
"You've got two months, you can do it"!
Grace thought that superguy15847 could do it. Now, if she thought that superguy15847 could do it, that meant that I could do it too!! I looked a the M&M calendar hanging on my office wall and began marking down dates. If there was enough time for superguy15847, (and Grace seemed to think that there was), there was enough time for me. So you can be sure, gentle reader, that I wasn't going to let my big break pass me by without a fight.