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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

Updated every Monday, one selected e-mail will be posted and answered here each week. With many years of experience in the film and television business, I look forward to providing answers to your questions about screenwriting or the entertainment industry in general.  Please send your e-mailed questions to: Script Advisor.  You may also wish to visit our Screenwriting Help E-Mails - The Archives.

This week's question: 

My project, which already had the green light, contract signed, and the whole shebang, has completely fallen apart.  And now I feel like I'm falling apart!  What should I do?

Desperately Seeking Sylvia (Los Angeles)


This week's Answer: 

Falling Together

Sylvia, I understand your plight.  Desperado Los Angeles-style is never fun.  It's very uncomfortable to feel the rug go out from under you.  In answer to your question about what to do when you feel like you're falling apart -- and I know you're probably not going to initially or ever like my answer (but, hey, that's what I'm here for) --  is to go ahead and fall apart.  I could say it again or you could just go back a sentence and I'll wait for you.  I'm glad you're back.  Yes, that's what I said.  Whether you know it now or not is that the main discomfort (pain, angst, anguish, urge to obliterate the person or persons who are breaking the contract, going back on their word, leaving town) is your...

RESISTANCE

Yes, your resistance to the moment.  Of course, you don't really want the thing that is happening to happen, that thing presently being your whole world apparently coming apart right before your very eyes.  You assumed that this person's or these persons' promise(s) were binding.  His/her or their signature(s) the final word.  You were on your way.  This was it.  You had so many expectations dashed before that surely, this one time, everything was going to work out.  Congratulations on your courage to keep wishing and wanting (I think those are words to some Burt Bacharach song), and don't ever stop.  Ever.  But, also, along with fanning your flame of desire, keep a steady eye on the tendency for the heart to take on a job it is not trained for.  Doing windows.  No, that's not it.  Reason.  The heart does not reason well.  If you give it that task, you'll be caught in a swell of expectation (and that's not swell.  Sorry.  Especially for the play on words.  Really sorry.)

So, that's what I mean by "go ahead and fall apart."  Don't try to hold the house of cards together.  (Remember:  "The one who tries to hold the house of cards together is really the joker"?  I just made that up.  Maybe I'll go into the fortune cookie business.)  The reason to do that is because, once you let it all go, you'll automatically...

BEGIN 

BUILDING 

AGAIN

You'll be able to (sorry)...

(I've been diagnosed as having the obscure disease, fontmania)

You'll be able to think straight again -- which you're probably not doing presently.  Be able to consider new possibilities.  New alternatives.  New ways to figure out how to wipe out the hard drives of the name(s) on the now-worthless contract that could have catapulted you into fame, glory, and a new outfit.

There's another way to look at the sudden dissolution of a contract, and that is, despite your resistance to that occurrence, it was supposed to happen and, ultimately, has happened for your own good.  You can think of this apparent disruption as a prelude to something coming that is far beyond your imagination (you can almost hear Rod Serling, can't you?)  something so wonderful and far better than your original concept of success.

Or not.

Actually, Sylvia, I see this as a golden opportunity to reach deep within yourself and find out what you're really made of.  To reaffirm your goals and your passion to bring them about.  Destruction is necessary before transformation and rebuilding.  The old must go before the new takes place.  Keep moving forward.

And no more signing contracts with invisible ink.

DcH 

 

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