In March of 2010, I went to Berlin to visit a friend of mine from NYU. During the day, he left me to my own devices because he was feverishly busy writing a script for an alumni grant. “Hmm, interesting”, I thought. “NYU? Money? Writing? Sign me up!”.
My friend informed me that the deadline for the Christopher Columbus/Richard Vague grant was a mere two weeks away. Being that I didn’t actually have a like-minded script written and I was still in Berlin for a few more days, it occurred to me that attempting to make this deadline would be the insane act of a madman. But after years of writing commercials and web content – sometimes up to 60 pages a day – I thought I’d give it a go. Plus, most people who know me think that I’m an insane madman anyway…why fight it?
When I got back from Berlin, I spent 3 days outlining and 4 days writing the first draft of WANNABE. If you’re familiar with some of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi‘s theories on happiness – I entered what is known as a “flow” state; what Michael Jordan might call “being in the zone”. Not something one can do on command, but having an insane deadline helps.
Because I didn’t have some fabulous concept already percolating in the grey matter between my ears, I decided it would be easiest to write about what I know: my experiences growing up in New York City in the early 1990s. At it’s heart, WANNABE is about the relationship between a neurotic Jewish boy named Daniel and a confident, overweight black girl named Emefa. I bet you can’t guess who the surrogate “me” is. OK, you I’ll tell you: from 1990-1997, I was an overweight black girl.
I didn’t have incredibly high expectations while writing the script – for me, it was more an exercise to see if I could write something so fast – but as I came close to finishing the first draft, something weird happened. I actually loved it! It flowed out of me because it was the story that I’ve been wanting to tell for most of my life. After years of writing scripts that I was either (a) Paid to Write For Someone Else (AKA “whoring oneself out”) or (b) Writing To Sell To Someone Else (AKA “trying really hard to whore oneself out”) – it was incredibly invigorating to write something for myself: something that I was passionate about – a story that I was excited to tell. I hope that passion shines through when people read WANNABE.
About a month after writing the script, I was surprised to hear that it was a finalist for the Vague/Columbus grant. A few months later, I was excited/gobsmacked/excitedly gobsmacked when I found out that it won the Vague/Columbus award – which put a large cash grant towards production. If you were to insert a business metaphor, the award is my “angel investor”. So, after all the awesome candy-flavored dust settled, my little script was now one step closer to becoming a big movie.
As an aside, I have to thank Mr. Vague, Mr. Columbus, and NYU. It’s incredibly rare that someone gets an opportunity to see their script come alive on screen, and it’s ever rarer when people are willing to present that opportunity to a young filmmaker.
So, here we are a few months (and about 10,000 meetings) later. Even though in many ways I am at the beginning of my filmmaking journey, I feel as though I’ve learned a lot. That brings us to this website. Aside from keeping those interested up-to-date with the comings and goings of WANNABE, this blog will be a repository of everything we (“we” meaning “production”) learn along the way: the tricks of the trade and the horrendous mistakes we’re destined to make. To that end, this blog will be broken up into 5 unique categories:
1) Wannabe: Updates on the comings and goings of the film. What’s new and what’s left to come. I hope this section will provide insight to others who are in the process of making their first/second/hopefully not last film.
2) Guest Blogger: Luckily for you, I know some smart people who have a lot to say about the creative arts. Some of them even like me enough to sit and write down their thoughts for you. You lucky little so and so.
3) How To: These are the blogs where industry professionals and smarty pantsed-types give you tips of the trade on how to do things that are worth doing – from getting yourself to sit down and write to getting your movie made. It’s never easy, but it helps to have someone who’s done it before giving you a little inspiration.
4) Interviews: Are you excited? No? Well, you should be. Because I’ve sat down to interview some pretty interesting people for your benefit. Still not excited? Well, you will be at some point when you actually read these interviews. From Show Runners of TV programs to New York Times Bestselling Authors to Emmy Award Winners, I’ve talked to some pretty interesting people who want to give you insight into the creative process. Still not excited? Then you should probably stop reading and go to a doctor and talk about why you can’t get excited about anything.
5) And More: This section will include random thoughts and insights that aren’t easily categorized, much like you. You’re a rebel and this section is for you because you can’t be defined by simple “labels”. You’re better than that and so is this section.
To start off, we’re planning to update the blog every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Aren’t you lucky? Don’t think about that question too much.
Thank you for visiting this website. Now that you’ve spent the last 5-7 minutes reading/skimming this post, might I suggest you do one (or all) of the following:
GET OFF YOUR COMPUTER AND HUG SOMEONE YOU LOVE.
Thanks again and keep checking back.