Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

California Dreaming

Made for TV:
I grew up on a small island in the Caribbean at a time when there was only one television station readily available, a CBS affiliate. Most other network programming was broadcasted in Spanish from the neighboring island of Puerto Rico with available translations by radio. Despite the technical difficulties, I quickly became a fan of the medium and could recite dialog and plotlines of my favorite tv shows at will.

My viewership increased dramatically when I discovered Alfred Hitchcock Presents and epic films shown on tv like Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments (both with great biblical content) and The Wizard of Oz. Though I've always been an avid reader, the visual mediums blew my mind and intrigued me. As a result, my older siblings spent hours pulling me from my favorite viewing spot; six inches from the TV screen. It is no wonder that I needed glasses since the 3rd grade!

Filmed at 11:
After I grew up a bit, I figured out that television shows and films shown on tv were actually written and the characters were actors on sets in Hollywood (and not "tiny people"living in my TV). I was about eleven years old when I decided that I really wanted to write for film or television. You may think this is a strange decision for a young person nowadays but remember folks, this was the time of quality tv shows such as Mary Tyler Moore, Lou Grant and M*A*S*H* . My desire to become a screenwriter only intensified after I saw such films as Star Wars and Superman (yes, I like sci-fi and comics). However, for a child born in the Caribbean with traditional upbringing, Hollywood and my screenwriting dreams seemed far, far away.

Write, Write, Write:
Instead, I wrote poems, short stories and journals. I loved writing so much that one summer I even drew and hand-published my own comic book. I even had an idea for a Scooby Doo movie that was way better than the ones they actually made (but that's a whole other story).

In high school, I wrote poems for our school's literary magazine, acted in a school plays and oratory performances and worked on the yearbook commitee. Eventually, I grew up and became... a doctor.

Doctor, Doctor:
Yes, I am a medical doctor and I have lots of student loans (I mean degrees) to prove it. Still, I never forgot my dream to become a writer and I would think up story ideas for screenplays or tv shows even as I went about my medical work. Often I thought, "I can do it!" or "How hard can it be?". Truthfully up to this point it was all just a daydream, as I was enjoying helping others heal, which I believe to be a gift to me from God.

Physician Heal Thyself:
Unfortunately, a chronic pain condition caused me to have to give up clinical medicine in 2004. Since then, watching films or tv shows and writing has become a way to deal with it all the "transitions" that I've been faced with. It is so ironic that now I have all the time in the world to write and to praise the Lord, of course. When one door closes, another one opens. Praise God!

The Biz:
With the same one-mindedness that I had in my medical career, I quickly went about the business of learning the art of screenwriting and learning the business of the entertainment industry. I bought a few books on the subject and attended a few seminars in my area. Soon, I began watching films and tv by genre and subscribed to an entertainment industry online newsletter. In 2006, I attended a full year of the seminar series and industry events at AFI (the American Film Institute) in Maryland and I attended an international film festival in Toronto. Shortly after, I invested in a new laptop and a screenwriting software and began writing speculative and feature length scripts.

It has been a year and a half since I relocated to L.A. for the purpose of persuing my dream of becoming a screenwriter, joining the countless others here with scripts in hand. In my short time here I have already had some wonderful and unforgettable experiences, like meeting James L. Brooks, (one of my favorite screenwriters).

My year here has been a little trying, though, as becoming a screenwriter is harder than I thought. I have joined writer's groups, attended conferences, classes, pitchfests and submitted to screenwriting competitions and still I am waiting for my "big break". Hollywood can be a tough place for "newbies" like myself and, as a Christian, it's made worst by the less-than moral stlyes and attitude that prevail here. Still, God has assured me that a door is opening and I am preparing myself to walk through it.

More to come:
Stay tuned for more posts detailing my 18 months of adventures.