OK, so I’ve got a question for all of you. Here it is:
Why do we create?
Is it for the FAME? Is it for the GLORY? Is it for the MONEY?
Fame? Quick, name five “famous” screenwriters. Let’s see, William Goldman...Shane Black...um... wait, don’t tell me...
Glory? OK, so who won Best Screenplay at this year’s Academy Awards?
Money? Hmm, what’s the statistic from the Writers Guild? I think the average screenwriter make about $60,000 a year.
So if you’re looking for “fame,” “glory,” or big bucks, the life of a screenwriter probably isn’t for you.
For me, it’s about the creative process. Just the notion that I can come up with the germ of an idea...cultivate that idea...nurture it, hone it...slowly transform it into 100 pages of marketable screenplay...well, that’s pretty darn exciting. And if we’re lucky enough to have those 100 pages turned into a movie, and even luckier that a modicum of fame, glory, and money follow...it’s all icing on the cake.
Another exciting phase to the creative process is what happens to your work once it’s set forth into the world.
I had an experience just the other day...an experience that pretty much sums it all up for me. It clarified my own personal reason why I love to create the things I create.
I was chatting on the phone with a friend/business associate. She was telling me how much she enjoyed a couple of my recently-completed screenplays. Being the fairly modest fellow I am (no, really, I am), I downplayed it with the usual, “Yeah, I think they’re pretty good.” But no, she insisted that they were really quite excellent. She was, apparently, very entertained by both scripts. (I should point out that she is currently trying to get these scripts to the next level: a producer who will actually buy them.) Then she mentioned a short film that I made a few years back. She said she really loved this little film. In fact, she loved it enough to send it to several of her friends. Apparently they loved it too. In fact, one friend told her something like, “The day you sent me the link to Jim’s film, I was really feeling low. Pretty miserable. But I watched the film. I have to tell you, I laughed and laughed. It really cheered me up.” (Click here to see my short film.)
Wow, that’s a pretty terrific feeling. It’s nice to know that this little movie I made...this goofy little project my childhood friend and I did simply to do it, to have a little fun and work our creative muscles a bit...had the ability to transform a person’s day from gloomy to, well, just a little bit sunnier. Yup, a pretty terrific feeling, all right.
This, friends, is why I create.
So think of that the next time to sit down to write your screenplay, or shoot that funny little YouTube video, or paint that picture, or shoot a photograph suitable for framing, realize that you’re creating something that will more than likely touch other people in same way. You will created something that says, I was here.