Thirty-five years ago I had plans to move to California and get an intern position with a movie or network production company. I wanted to go into film entertainment, particularly in network program development. I had a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and was ready to put in my sweat equity to work my way to the top of the entertainment food chain. I went backwards into my degree, taking Intermediate Acting ahead of Beginning Acting because I was bitten by the acting bug my first semester at college. I never did take Beginning Acting, and the head of the theater department let me substitute Introduction to Directing for Beginning Acting in my final semester. This was great since in the interim years I developed a severe case of stage fright which has lasted all my life. I can memorize lines but cannot recite them in front of a crowd, unless I sing. That’s just as well; I’m a writer. My job was to be the one who put the words in their mouths.
Thirty-four years ago, I got married. That was the end of my plans to follow my dreams, since my new spouse talked me out of moving to the coast. “You can write anywhere,” he told me when I reminded him of my plans (which he had been aware of since day one) and he added, “and we already have jobs here.” I have a tendency to stick with something I’ve committed to and I foolishly believed in my commitment to a marriage, which I discovered later was all based on a lie anyway. If I have any regrets about my life, I regret not packing up the car and telling him “come with me or not, but I’m going” and then driving west.
In the fullness of time I had children, three glorious human beings who have made my life a joy and worth breathing. They are a gift, perhaps God’s way of substituting what I missed with something I wouldn’t have missed for the world, as my professional dreams slipped away with each passing year. Now they are grown and on their own, and I can at last as a single person seek out that elusive dream of creative endeavors. Over the years I had kept up writing on multiple stories and even an entire science fiction romance series of books, so coming up with creative ideas was never a problem for me.
I looked into openings at studios and networks and production companies but they all expect interns to be fresh out of college, and all other applicants are expected to have years of experience. It is frustrating, knowing that I have experiences and ideas that I would not have, had I been immersed in the standard timeline of studio ladder-climbing. People on the fast track seldom see real life as ordinary people live it, much less write about it with any degree of authenticity. Screenwriting is a challenge since you apparently have to ‘know’ somebody in order to get a script into the hands of someone who can work with it – preferably someone on the fast track. I’m still paying back old loans I had to take out to raise my family, so simply moving to Los Angeles or New York City now is not practical. Atlanta might become the Hollywood of the South, but they also want to hire young interns. According to the Georgia Women in Film group, the best way to get into the business here is to apply for non-paying production assistant jobs with independent films, and make a name for yourself and gradually work up from film to film. Well yeah, if you’re living with your mama or your man and they are supporting your endeavors, then I guess that is a pretty good way to do it, but it doesn’t work for me. I don’t trust people who say they will ‘support’ me, not anymore. I support myself. Too bad I didn’t have that mindset thirty-four years ago.
Eh… shoulda, coulda, woulda. I had no real idea of how to otherwise pursue my goals at the beginning, and failed to realize the old axiom “there’s plenty of time for that later” did not apply to movie and television production. Unless I can back into the business the same way I backed into my degree, I’ll have to chip away at the gateway to my dream one stone at a time. It will probably have to be done in a less-than-conventional manner, but I’m okay with that. Being less-than-conventional is pretty much my calling card.