It feels like I've been using this blog to shout out my opinions on the entertainment industry with an emphasis on what I know: horror. My past blogs have been about explaining the inner workings of our business to the fans. In the future, I definitely want to write more about my specific opinions and thoughts on my favorite horror films and maybe some of the techniques that we use to try to scare people. But I feel I need to write now about toughness.
This business is hard. Being a filmmaker who makes their living doing their craft is a real bitch sometimes. It's emotionally draining, mentally exhausting, and physically -- well, to tell you the truth, you don't have to move around that much, unless your idea of exercise is driving from the Valley to Burbank or Culver City.
I moved to Los Angeles in 1991 to pursue acting -- at least that's what I said I was going to do. Directing was my real goal, but I had no idea how to get into that part of the business, so I thought "Acting! I don't need to know how to type. I was a theater major in college -- how hard could it be?" The answer was REALLY FUCKING HARD. I took acting classes. Got headshots taken. Did plenty of showcases (where actors supposedly perform in front of "industry professionals," but in truth the place is filled with our friends and other people we've corralled into coming.)
Five years later, I got an acting agent. A year after that, my first role (in a horror movie called "Asylum" starring Robert Patrick and Malcolm McDowell -- I don't even think it's out on DVD Yup, that's me on the poster there). A year later, I got another part: a couple of lines on "America's Most Wanted." Thank God by this point in time I had met Jace -- and in 1997, we started our first script.
Two years later, we got a writing agent. A year after that, our first writing job: we had a week to rewrite the script to "Crocodile," which was directed by Tobe Hooper. And the rest is, shall we say, history...at least on imdb.
My point in all this is that I moved to L.A. in 1991. It took me almost 10 years to start making a living in this business. But I can say with a lot of pride (and a little disbelief) that I made it through the hard times and kept trying. It's not just me, either: almost all of my fellow horror filmmakers have gone through something similar. They might not have been as dumb as me -- to try to use acting (one of the most difficult jobs there is to make a living at, period!) -- as a bridge to writing and directing, but they've all had their own struggles. Mike Mendez (THE CONVENT, GRAVEDANCERS) and Dave Parker (THE DEAD HATE THE LIVING, THE HILLS RUN RED) started in lowly positions at Full Moon Entertainment. It took them a long time to get their break. Everybody else I know -- from Scott Kosar (TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, THE MACHINIST) and Stephen Susco (THE GRUDGE) to Hans Rodionoff (LOST BOYS 2) and Jeffrey Reddick (FINAL DESTINATION, DAY OF THE DEAD) -- spent years working in odd jobs (production assistant, executive assistant, lifeguard) and writing script after script after script before they got their chance.
And still, every day, it doesn't get any easier. My life is still filled with many more disappointments than triumphs. My point here is that it takes a long time and a lot of work to even be marginally successful in this business. So if you want to be a filmmaker (writer/director/producer), be in it for the long haul -- because it takes a long time. Overnight success stories are the exception, not the rule -- and most of them, when you look close, aren't that "overnight" at all. It's not impossible to make a living in this business. It can be done -- and you can do it. It just takes a lot of work.
You may have noticed I haven't mentioned anything about "talent." This is because I believe that we're not born with it -- it's something we also have to work hard to achieve. And honing our skills is the most important part of the journey.