PHOTO CREDIT: Creative Commons photo “Los Angeles Area at Night” by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (nasamarshall) on Flickr
When life gives you Kickstarter, you have to make lemonade. You have to.
Next Saturday, I’m hopping on a plane and flying from Baltimore to Los Angeles. I’ll arrive around noon and have about one day to explore the area before I have to drive to a place called Writer’s Boot Camp in Santa Monica. There, I will take part in one of the most important two-hour events of my life thus far. I will meet Gary Goldstein, producer of Pretty Woman, and (he says) some of his Hollywood friends. And it’s all because of a $35 pledge on Kickstarter.
I don’t even know how I found it; maybe it came in the form of a tweet. But by some chance, I happened on the Kickstarter page that has turned my life upside down in the last few months. I mean that in a good way, of course.
Thanks to Kickstarter backers (who we Marshmallows already knew were awesome), Mr. Goldstein wrote and self-published a book called The Writer’s Guide to Hollywood. Not long after I backed this project, which in itself will be indispensable, Goldstein announced that everyone who pledged $35 or more (I actually pledged a little more) was invited to a book launch party that he would throw and to which he would invite some of his Hollywood friends. I’m still not sure what that last part means, but I’ll find out soon enough. My boyfriend and I will arrive in L.A. next Saturday, attend the party on Sunday, and fly back on Monday morning.
I have to let this sink in.
Next week is the last full week of my life in which I’ll be able to say, “I’ve never been to a Hollywood producer’s party. I’ve never met a Hollywood producer. I’ve never even been to L.A. unless you count a layover at L.A.X.”
Well, I must say…none of this happened the way I thought it would.
Eight or nine years ago, I decided after a quick teenage-life crisis that I wanted to be a TV writer, not a computer engineer like I had dreamed about for the eight or so years before that. Plot twist!
I got a BA in English from an all-male college (before I even realized and accepted that I was gay). Then I went straight to grad school for creative writing and publishing arts, on a fiction track. Plot twist?
I knew I wanted to write for TV, which was how I justified and still justify the fact that I watch entirely too much TV, but also knew that getting an MFA in screenwriting instead of a more general “creative writing” MFA could pigeonhole me into an expensive degree that I might never have the luck to do anything with. Instead, I went with an even more expensive, practical degree that combines writing with publishing—and that still allowed me to take a screenwriting class.
I stand by that decision, especially now.
Since getting my MFA and self-publishing a book of my own, Life on Other Moons, I’ve begun the ambitious task of adapting a few of the stories from the book into a screenplay. My MFA is barely in my possession, and I’m already trying to turn my general creative writing MFA into something I can use to get myself into Hollywood. Kickstarter and this party are my motivations to finish. To succeed.
I don’t know what will come of this—maybe nothing—but I can’t not try. On August 11, I’m meeting Gary Goldstein, producer of Pretty Woman, and his friends in L.A. thanks to Kickstarter. In the days following that, I’m writing a screenplay based on a few stories in the book I spent the last four years thinking about, writing, designing, and publishing.
My worlds are colliding, all because, in a panicked moment, coming to the end of my MFA education, wondering how I’d ever turn “creative writing” into “screenwriting,” I pledged $50 to a man I’ve never met so he could publish a book of his own and I could learn from his insider knowledge. That man just happened to be an acclaimed producer of Pretty Woman, and he just happened to extend an invitation for his backers to meet him.
Kickstarter. Who would have thought?
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