Learning from failure

Failure is an option

Back at the start of the millennium, when I was working in corporate land, creative endeavours were just a hobby. I had been writing books on and off for about ten years, but there was an itch I wanted to scratch - to write a movie. These were the days of the Orange Prize for Screenwriting, so I thought I would turn my most recent manuscript (none of which had ever been pitched anywhere) into a film script. I had watched enough films, and the raw material I had was very mainstream, so in the words of Clarkson & co, how hard could it be? The judge tore it to shreds. It was naive, formatted completely incorrectly, and about 5 hours long. I was not, in common with many wannabe writers, an undiscovered Julian Fellowes or Robert McKee. If I wanted have a shot at the glimmer of a possibility of getting somewhere, I would need to get some learning under my belt. So I took a weekend screenwriting course, and my eyes were opened. With that groundwork, I pursued my hobby with more confidence and gusto. Many more scripts were completed and then hidden away on my hard drive, lest any more criticism should be forthcoming. When the opportunity came to take a sabbatical from work, I sunk huge amounts of time into writing and - gasp - approaching publishers. I also reasoned that to become a better writer for the screen, I needed to understand how films were made, so I sunk my savings into a filmmaking course. The only problem was that, as well as helping me to be a better writer, it made me want to be a filmmaker. I got "on set" on a slew of short - and mostly rubbish - films. I even got to appear as an extra a couple of times. One of those forays in front of the camera - which are rare to this day - gives me a Bacon Number of 3. That wouldn't have happened if I had given up screenwriting. I bought a camera. I got a little work, and even less money. I told my employer I wasn't going to return to work at the end of my sabbatical. Because I wasn't working 50 hour weeks all over the country, I had time to start dating. I met my wife. I officially became a cameraman. I got more work. I started a business. The business was named the Most Loved Video Production Company in England. It's amazing where failure can get you.