This week, I’d like to do something a little different. Normally, as you know, you can read my column and find a discussion on the various aspects of screenwriting and real-world examples, illustrating exactly how you can use them in your own scripts. But today is a special day: it’s the one year anniversary (to the day) of the very first Specs & The City column! As these kind of things tend to do, this anniversary saw me looking back over the past year, and I realized exactly how much has changed since I picked up my pen (or whatever modern version you prefer… booted up my computer, maybe?), and I thought you might find it informative – and hopefully interesting – to hear a bit about myself and how all of you have changed my life.
Ready? Here we go…
Specs & The City: One Year Later
In July of 2012 I decided that I hadn’t been taking my writing career as seriously as I needed to. I’d written a few scripts and placed well in a contest or two but, as a lot of screenwriters find, that’s about where it ended. It wasn’t translating into any kind of further success, and I wasn’t any closer to my goal of writing for a living. I’m not going to lie, I contemplated walking away; delegating screenwriting to the “hobby” column and chalking it up as a failure.
And then I joined Twitter.
I’ve gushed about how amazing Twitter is for screenwriters before, but it bears repeating again: Twitter is the best resource out there for screenwriters. There are countless lessons to be learned, and invaluable connections to be made (from struggling beginners to seasoned Hollywood professionals), and they’re all right there at your fingertips. All of a sudden I wasn’t alone anymore. I saw my hopes and fears reflected back at me from this collection of writers; I was part of something bigger than myself, and those dreams didn’t feel so impossible any more. It was exactly the inspiration I needed to square my shoulders and make the decision to tackle this beast called screenwriting one more time.
While I continued to write, I started gathering produced scripts to read, and then I created a website so that I could jot down my thoughts in a blog as I worked my way through them. Those blog posts started getting shared on Twitter, and before long I was starting to really get to know some great and talented people. One of those people was Jeanne Veillette Bowerman, editor of Script Magazine, and we hit off immediately. We tweeted back and forth a lot, about a wide variety of topics, and one day she offered to read a script of mine (notice I didn’t ask her. We became friends, and she offered) that I had received a read request for. After giving some amazing notes, she asked if I’d be interested in writing a column for Script.
A few weeks later, Specs & the City was born, and I’ve never looked back.
Since then, I’ve read hundreds of scripts, made a lot of amazing friends, had script read requests from development execs, traveled to pitch events (as both a participant and a volunteer), started my own script notes service, and I’ve just recently come on board as producer for a short film being made by Jeff Richards – a close friend and fellow Script columnist. Plus, I’ve been writing my own scripts and this column every week for the past year. It’s been a whirlwind, and it’s a huge workload, but it’s such a joy. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My point in saying all of this isn't to toot my own horn, it’s to bring two things to the attention of readers of my column. First, never give up. I’ll say it again; If you’re passionate – if you want to do this more than anything in the world – Never. Give. Up. Sure there is skill and luck involved with success in any field, but (in my experience) 90% of the people who “make it” are the ones who simply wouldn’t give up.
The second point is to show how things can happen to you if you just put yourself out there. None of what happened for me over the last year would have been possible if I didn’t get engaged. Talk to people. Get to know them online, and then in the real world whenever possible (I think Jeanne talked about this in Balls of Steel recently). The only way to win a race is to start running.
None of this would have been possible if it weren’t for you all; the people who read my column. I’ve received comments from readers about how a column helped them and had long debates over topics I’ve discussed here (I LOVE a good debate. Please feel free to strike one up some time). I’ve made wonderful friends, and met so many others who continue to inspire me on a daily basis.
So to all of you, I give my humble and sincerest thanks. Here’s to another year of Specs & the City and working together to be the best writers we can be.
Until next time, keep writing.
- More Specs & The City articles by Brad Johnson
- Balls of Steel: Seize the Day... and the Opportunity
- Specs & City: Sequences and 'Toy Story,' Part 1
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