If I get one comment more consistently than any other is that I just don’t give up. I wish I had a dollar for each time I’ve been referred to as a Weeble-Wobble. If I did, I’d have my film financed by now! I think it is meant as a compliment, but sometimes it’s said with an abrupt exhale that communicates perhaps something else. But I just press on. I really don’t care. I don’t. And neither should you. This is an exceedingly difficult profession—not only to succeed in, but to even get to the entrance door for the first knock.
But you know this. You don’t need me telling you all the shit you already deal with day to day. Right? So, on to my point: It isn’t good enough to simply “not give up.” What was it that Einstein said? True insanity is trying the same thing over and over again, each time expecting a different result? Something like that?
If your method of communicating what a great director or writer or actor you are is not getting you forward progress (true progress, not the self-delusional kind), then get on with something new. Don’t give up, but do pull back and re-tool.
For many of us the golden chalice is L.A. representation. And to get that, we spend a lot of time focused on trying to get a reel, get the right headshots, the perfect Web page, etc. Okay, fine. But it is VERY easy for the journey, the struggle, the veritable ladder itself to become the focus. Don’t fret over the color of the ladder! Just fuckin’ climb. Keep moving. Don’t stop to decorate the rungs.
Here’s a great example: There is an extraordinarily vibrant and compelling actress I recently came across, quite by accident, named Amy Walker. She has posted a number of monologues, songs and demonstrations of an amazing talent with accents online in three different sites and on YouTube. Check her out.
Everyone I know who sees her work online has one immediate response: Why isn’t she in major movies? I have no doubt she will be, if that’s what she wants. (She and I have begun to visit, and I have my fingers crossed that she will take the lead in my small upcoming film, Riding Home.) But the key is that she is a true artist, focused on her craft, and isn’t waiting on that perfect agent or that one directing student to get her that perfect reel. She is just out there, doing what she does so well. (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UgpfSp2t6k. She is exposed and raw, taking chances. Bravo.)
There are a number of things I could say, relative to Amy, but I want to only point to two here:
1. Don’t worry about how fancy your site and videos and demos are; let your talent shine. Look at her site. Amy’s is, well, shall we just say she didn’t waste money on it. And look at her demos. They’re in a beige room, performed to a Web camera… like she’s performing to her friggin’ bathroom mirror! There is no place to hide. It is just her. And that is a beautifully powerful thing.
2. Keep acting/shooting/writing while you push for that “big break.” Amy has multiple projects going on from her hometown in Washington State: Her one woman show, Amy Walker: Inside Out, plus other theater performances; a film she wrote and plans to direct; and meanwhile is earning some coin as a dialect coach.
My point in this entry is simple, yet at its core is perhaps the key essentials for any film biz artist: First, you must persist in getting back to your feet time and again, relentlessly. Second, you cannot wait on others to promote you, to get you just where you need to be to launch. You have to get out there and let your talent be seen. Risk everything or risk nothing.
I personally am NOT an example of how to do all that correctly. Hardly! I am on a journey here, too. And neither is Amy Walker’s deal the only way to do it. But I do recommend you take a look at her style of doing this. Her self-confidence and bare-bones approach is compelling. And her talent? Well, it speaks for itself. (Check out her version of the song “Danny Boy” or her recital from Hamlet.)
Let your talent speak for itself. Keep moving and try not to rely on anyone else to get you there.
Oh, and if you’re a producer/director now interested in hiring Amy, I get first dibs for whenever we shoot Riding Home!
David Marlett is a writer and director currently producing and directing the feature film, Of Kings & Cowboys. Marlett’s desire to direct and control his own work led him to create BlueRun Productions in 2007. He’s been acting for most of his life, and is also a non-practicing (“recovering”) attorney and CPA, with 20-plus years experience consulting and managing a wide assortment of companies in industries spanning from healthcare to entertainment. The Spring 2009 issue features his latest installment of his print column, Marlett & Me, with this sister blog on MovieMaker.com.