"There is no point at which you can say, 'Well, I'm successful now. I might as well take a nap.' " —Carrie Fisher
I'm sure you've heard the expression, "Don't count your chickens until they've hatched." Well, that's never been more true than as it relates to this industry, because:
• Having an agent doesn't mean the agent will line up work for you.
• Having the most wonderful project in the world doesn't mean it will ever sell.
• Getting a part in a movie doesn't mean you won't end up on the cutting room floor.
• Having a producer, actor, studio or company like your screenplay doesn't mean they'll buy it.
• Having a company or studio option your project doesn't mean it will get made.
• Knowing you're perfect for a job or a role doesn't mean you'll get it.
• Having a fabulous meeting or interview, and/or being called back for a second or third meeting, doesn't necessarily mean you'll get the job, sell the script or land the show.
• Having a gorgeous face, gobs of personality and talent to boot doesn't mean you'll be discovered.
• Finding investors doesn't mean they'll be able to come up with enough money or that they won't back out.
• Just because you have a steady job today, doesn't mean it will last forever or that the company you're working for won't fold or your boss won't be let go (meaning you might be, too).
• Just because you become successful doesn't mean you will remain successful.
I realize how negative this sounds, but you have to be aware that these things can and do sometimes happen. Without losing your optimism, your passion or your dreams, just be careful! I've fallen into this trap myself, even though I know better, because when you come so close to landing a great job, a role, a deal, an opportunity, and you want it sooooo badly you can't think of anything else, it's only natural to get excited. Who wouldn't be thrilled when a producer says he loves your project, or when you have a great interview, or when you're up for a big film or when someone promises to help you? But try not to get too excited until whatever it is, is 100% firm—and don't spend the money until it's in your hands (or safely in the bank), because, unfortunately:
• The competition is enormous. It's simply a case of too many applicants and too few jobs to go around.
• Deals fall through every day (even ones that look like "sure things").
• Good screenplays can take years to sell, if they sell at all.
• Production companies occasionally go under and/or are taken over by new management.
• Studio and network regimes come and go.
• A picture or two that doesn't do well can rapidly knock a producer, director, actor or writer off the "A" list.
• The most competent and talented people aren't always the ones who get hired.
• Picture commitments made by a studio can evaporate if there's a regime change before the picture can get a greenlight, and the new regime wants to choose its own slate of releases.
• You can't always count on the people you think you can count on.
• What's "in" today might very well be passé tomorrow.
• Decisions are made by people who don't have crystal balls and can only give it their best guess.
• Promises are often broken, and loyalties can be precarious.
• Nepotism and extreme politics do exist.
So, don't count those chickens quite yet, and understand:
• A deal isn't a deal until you receive a contract and your attorney says it's okay to sign on the dotted line.
• A job isn't a job until you receive a deal memo and that first paycheck.
• Your film isn't going to see the light of day until it's been shot, gone through post and has a distributor.
• An understanding with or promise from another doesn't mean anything unless it's backed up in writing, and even then . . .
• Fame cannot be sustained by one or two successes alone.
Be practical and be careful whom you trust, but don't give up your dreams and don't ever stop trying, because deals do get made, great jobs do come through, screenplays do get sold, other people do come through for you, movies do get made and dreams do come true.
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