Fuzzy Clarity

In 1996, I decided I wanted to have a career in Hollywood. Exactly how and when … that part was a little fuzzy. At the time, the only published writing to my credit were various articles for network marketing journals, hardly the stuff of mainstream, and some health and environmental pieces I’d written back in the eighties. No publishers, no agent, no books, no nuttin’. Screenwriting: a complete unknown. So I started reading. Read a ton of books on screenwriting. Haunted the “Cinema” shelves at the local Barnes & Noble, checking to see if there were any new published screenplays (there almost always were) and bought every one. Scrutinized them, read every word. After a few years discovered you could download screenplays from the Internet (this was the late nineties, we didn’t assume things like that back then) and started downloading, printing, reading, studying. Found out the legendary Robert McKee was teaching a seminar in New York City and took that. It was just a few weeks after 9/11; I’d never seen New York so somber. Took another seminar from another famous screen teacher, David Freeman, who connected me to a screenwriting coach, Erik Oleson, who gave me some excellent writing tips. Went to a Roger Ebert seminar with my son Nick, where Ebert walked us through Hitchcock’s The Birds frame by frame, a few of the most enjoyable hours I ever spent. Eventually connected through a friend (thank you, James!) with a screenwriting teacher in Hollywood, a brilliant teacher named Hal Croasmun, took a pile of online courses with him. Wrote some screenplays, or drafts, anyway. Entered them...