Sky Arts are currently showing BAFTA’s star screenwriter lectures. I saw one starring John Logan on Saturday. It was reassuring and fascinating for a number of reasons.
People often say “I want to produce great work, but I have another job!” Here is something to hearten you: John Logan, writer of Gladiator and countless other great movies, spent 10 years working in a library and writing plays on the side. The whole of Joy Division held down second jobs even when they were huge (genuinely). Michael McIntyre worked in the Carphone Warehouse for 5 years before turning full time pro. Phillip Larkin worked in Hull University library for his entire career.
Another thing I found heartening about Logan was his thoughts on re-writing: he wrote 26 drafts for Any Given Sunday. His first draft he submits for notes is after dozens of personal drafts. He says:
“Writing is easy. It’s the rewriting which is difficult. Having to put a critical analysis to your work is grinding.”
Finally, he says that when he writes films: “you’re always looking for a visual metaphor” in a scene. And once you have a motif you can seed it throughout the film.
To conclude, I thought I’d quote a section of that famous speech from Any Given Sunday which seems relevant to the life of a creative, and indeed almost anyone:
“We’re in hell right now gentlemen, really, and we can stay here, get the shit kicked out of us, or we can fight our way back into the light, we can climb out of hell, one inch at a time…life’s a game of inches, so’s football…the inches we need are everywhere around us, they’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second, on this team we fight for that inch, on this team we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch, we claw with our finger nails for that inch. Because we know when we add up all those inches that’s going to make the fucking difference between winning and losing, between living and dying…that’s what living is: the six inches in front of your face.”
So go and make that first small step, claw yourself forward that inch, go make something.
Here’s Al Pacino making the point rather well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WO4tIrjBDkk