Friday, May 15, 2009

Intestinal Fortitude

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, 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.

Adam G


  1. Right on, Adam. Thanks for sharing.

    I spent a couple years drunk on Venice Beach before returning to the safety of a couch in Toronto.

    Now I'm getting back in the game.

    I look forward to reading more from/about you guys.

  2. Nice piece Adam. Jace and I have had conversations on my path, which is similar. Sold a script in 2001 which is trapped in development hell... I've had several scripts optioned which have fizzled out... and now I have two more projects in development with a couple different Producers. I've been doing this (in earnest) since 1992... and here we are 17 years later and all I have to show for it is... nada, save for my very close flirtations with success. But it's those flirtations with success, the excitement of taking the meetings after your agent sends your script out, that keep me in the game.

    Success is just around the corner, I can feel it.

    But what a strange, ego bruising business we're all in. And, no, it's not for the weak... it takes an incredible amount of determination to stick with it this long.

    Either that or we're just stupid.

  3. I liked reading this... I good dose of reality check is refreshing. The business aspect of it all just sounds brutal.

  4. Amen brother. I started off doing the acting thing as well. But by the time I got an agent, The Cosby Show was going off the opportunities for multi-racial actors dwindled. Thank God for Vin Diesel changing the game later on. :)

    It took me 10 years of toiling before I sold my first project and you're's still a daily struggle. But knowing great people who are in the same boat, makes it easier.

    Keep dropping knowledge... :)

  5. Thanks Adam for the nice post. Very good post. i like this type of simple horror and simple action movie
    Best of luck to you.
    Bye for now
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  6. It took them a long time to get their break. Everybody else I know -- from Scott Kosar
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