I did not go to film school, nor did I study screenwriting in college, so what the hell makes me think I can write screenplays?
For too many years I believed that one did have to go to film school or college specifically for that. I guess it is because I worked in a licensed world, I had to go to school to be a nurse, pass the board to get my license, the doctors I worked under, med school…
When I started selling houses, more school, another license.
But screenwriters don’t need a license. It probably helps to have a degree in film when making a submission, but it is not necessary. It takes talent, drive, and some luck. All three.
I grew up in a movie theater my mother managed. Since this was a small town and there wasn’t much else to do, guess where I was every single day? At the movies.
I’d help her carry the film cans upstairs and splice films together. I had a drawer full of frames from my favorite movies and my room was wallpapered with real movie posters, even the ceiling.
Mostly, I watched movies. Every day, at least two an evening on the big screen. There were four to choose from. Often a movie got held over for weeks. Like Star Wars. It got held over for so long, I managed to watch it seventy-seven times. Not that I liked it, I never did. Not one single time.
See, not only did I get in for free, so did the friends I brought with me. That is how many times I got “asked” to suffer this one. It wasn’t long before I had every line of dialogue memorized, knew every prop, every mistake, you name it. Out of boredom and curiosity, I used to watch people’s reactions to certain parts of movies. Not just Star Wars, all of the movies I watched over and over again. There were many.
My mom was great with people. She knew everyone in town and when they came out of the show, she’d ask them if they liked it, then why or why not. Every single night. People of all ages and backgrounds. She could get them to talk. I listened and learned.
Mom got so good at feeling the pulse of movie goers that she could predict with great accuracy which movies would do well and which ones would bomb. Just by watching a preview. I listened and learned.
This was my childhood.
I am no longer privied to free movies on the big screen but I know the importance of talking to and listening to people of all ages and backgrounds. What makes them laugh or cry, what music they listen to, what they do for fun, what bothers them… Things that move them.
Did we know Star Wars would be a hit? Yes, unfortunately we did. There were too many things in there we’d never seen before. Mostly the special effects. We knew we were in for some suffering.
Sorry Star Wars fans.