The show had it all. There was after hours admittance to the Paramount Lot, extremely attractive ladies to greet the VIPs (they even smiled at us once), studio pages chauffeuring us through the lot on golf carts and a walk on the red carpet. Oh, the red carpet. If there was one thing we worried about, it was the red carpet. Okay, maybe I was the one worried. Dustin is imbued with this amazing ability to approach anyone at any time in any place and start a conversation with them. Seriously, his ability to open is heroic. Me? Not so much. I worried about things like, “Why the hell will the press care who we are?” Or, “What do I tell them when they ask why we’re important?” Even, “Have you produced anything I've seen?" Dustin? Blissfully unconcerned.
So, when the moment arrived and we stepped out of that golf cart, I swallowed nervously while Dustin buttoned up his suit, smiled and walked right onto that red carpet. No one blinked an eye. No one said, “Who the hell are you guys?” Another of the nice young ladies smiled at us. Someone else called me Sir. I have to admit that maybe Dustin was on to something here (Don’t tell him I told you). In a blink of an eye the press pictures were over and I had suddenly transformed from nervous to thinking, “Is that it? I can do more?” But alas, it was time to head inside. That’s where things really got weird.
It turns out I didn't need to be nervous about having to open with anyone. They were coming up and talking to us. At first, it was a little strange for a screenwriter used to having to craft carefully worded query letters just to get someone’s attention. But then it dawned on me. We were vetted. Final Draft was essentially telling everyone in the room that we were important enough to be included. Well that, and the fact that we are both north of six feet tall with large builds. That kind of stands out in a Hollywood room. But the bottom line is we weren't a blind query in their email. We were vetted writers with high placements in multiple prestigious contests, including one win. We were in.
The next five hours were above anything we expected them to be, and as screenwriters, we have big imaginations. We had originally planned to spend most of the rest of the week in LA editing some short films we had shot a few weeks earlier. It turns out we barely touched our computers. We had lunch with agents, meetings with managers, preliminary talks about securing a book deal for a graphic novel of our Industry Insider winning script, talks with a producer about directing some viral shorts and I have a picture of me on the red carpet, wearing a suit, to show my wife and prove we’re not just screwing around and going to the bars (that’s all work related) while in LA.
We owe this success to two things. First and foremost, we owe Final Draft. They stepped up and put their faith in us, and we tried not to disappoint. We also owe it to putting aside our natural screenwriter tendency to want to hide behind our computer and got ourselves out there. Too many times we, as screenwriters, want to just write our stories, send out our letters, and wait for success to come running back to us. I wish it were that easy. I really, really do. But it’s not. This town is about relationships. Never, ever turn down a chance to go form them because you don’t know when the next one will come. But above all, hyperbole and a half, the single most important thing I can say… have fun. Bask in the limelight. Enjoy the party. Act like you've been there. The work will find you.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I was asked by someone if I had produced anything she may have seen. Rather than explain the beginning stages of our career, I fell back on my old stand-bye. I made fun of myself. I simply said, “Only if you’re one of our 32 YouTube Channel subscribers. But the odds are kind of small since I know 20 of them personally.” Worked like a charm.