“…try to make the one (decision) that scares you a little bit, because those are normally the right ones” – Jeff Atwood
Considering the audience of this site I’m assuming almost none of you knows who Jeff Atwood is. There’s a slight chance you might know him as CodingHorror.
Still probably not. Anyway, Jeff Atwood along with Joel Spolsky created Stackoverflow and the StackExchange network which is a group of sites dedicated to asking interesting questions and providing high quality answers. It’s like a top 50 website now. It’s that popular. I’ve actually submitted a proposal for a Film Making Q&A site, which we can hopefully get to beta soon.
What Jeff was referring to was his initial decision to quit his day job and focus on building the initial Stackoverflow site.
I’m faced with a similar decision. I’m not quitting my job, but I’ve made the decision to shoot one of my scripts. It’s not necessarily a hard decision to make. Almost every writer would love the opportunity to shoot their own work. However, there’s only one script I’ve written where that applies to me. I’ve completed about six feature length screenplays, had one optioned which is looking like it might go into production this fall. It looked like it might be earlier than that, but tha’ts the nature of the beast. I couldn’t care less if that script was completely rewritten and only aired in Germany. While I think I wrote a great script and I liked the characters, I wasn’t passionate about it. It was someone else’s idea that I just kinda brought home.
So why now, why this script? Well part of it is the recent success I had with my first option. Not a major break through but it’s the first sort of reinforcement I’ve received for my writing, well since this script made it into the Top 100 finalist for Project Greenlight 3. Another reason has to do with Kickstarter. I’m not a very outgoing person, nor am I someone who can pitch very well. My producer Liz Friedman handled all of that for our Christmas script which was optioned. I’m the stereotypical introverted writer who isn’t great when talking about himself, or more importantly selling myself to potential investors/producers. With Kickstarter you can do a lot of fund raising through social media, and through a video which you can script etc.. I’m getting better at it, but it’s still not my strong suit.
The final reason, and this is something I don’t really like to talk about is the fact that I’ll be blind some day. I couldn’t tell you when as I don’t know. I was born with a degenerative retinal disease which leads to incurable blindness. My brother already uses a cane and attends a school for the blind. He’s only three years older than I am, and for the longest time his vision was better than mine. So the disease is pretty unpredictable. One of the things that struck me the most about my brother’s rapid vision loss was when he talked about not being able to see his daughter’s face while holding her. I’m not nearly that bad yet, nor do I think I’m close to being that bad. However, neither did he at one point. My vision has been pretty steady for years and I haven’t noticed a major decrease. I can still drive, albeit almost exclusively during the day time, and I still work a full time job as a software developer, but there’s always that sense of a countdown. So out of all the screenplays I’ve written, Four of a Kind is without a doubt the one I’d actually like to make, and therefore see.
I joked with a friend of mine that I wasn’t sure what frightened me more; raising no money through Kickstarter and being embarrassed by the lack of enthusiasm around the project, or raising enough to actually shoot it.
Like I said, it’s not the hardest decision I’ve had to make, but it’s definitely a scary one.