Last month I attended the Screenwriting Flash Lab at Sundance Film Festival (I’ve been distracted from posting lately hence the delayed review). The panel consisted of Tony Grisoni (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Tideland, In This World, Death Defying Acts), Lynn Shelton (Touch Feely, Your Sister’s Sister, Humpday) and Peter Straughan (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Debt, Men Who Stare at Goats). In an eye opening discussion, I heard successful and talented writers express their reservations and fears when it comes to writing as well as their anxieties during the transition of a screenplay through the filmmaking process. I guess it brought home some perspective that fears and anxieties are experienced at all levels of success.
An interesting thread to the talk concerned the act of risk taking in writing. As a new and unestablished writer, it is tempting to think about what an audience would like to read/watch as oppose to what you would actually like to write about. Every random idea I have for a short film concerns a subject that I am interested in. However, I cannot say that I would necessarily watch films on that subject myself as my fascination may have developed from a different form. For example, a real life experience or even a book. So by writing for yourself you might be taking an important risk in honest expression.
Naturally, human beings consciously or unconsciously want to be liked, whether it be for their creative productions or otherwise. This ‘validates’ their work but is it at the expense of authentic expression? On the other hand, giving your existential thoughts too much time may create self-indulgent rubbish. But then maybe all art could be considered self-indulgent by someone. Then plays the part of interpretation. Let’s just conclude that it’s a conflicted process!
I don’t think that there is a definite way of ensuring that your writing is unapologetically honest. Even when writing on this blog, I try to write continuously and honestly without going back and editing my natural flow. Though I’m not sure whether my subconscious concerns seep into my posts.
And now for the ‘fear of everything’ portion of this discussion; I will just accept that there are worries and anxieties in any situation where one might be assessed or evaluated by others. And that’s ok. I keep hoping that this subsides as we get older. But to be honest, I don’t know whether that is just another one of my delusional hopes for the future.
I will leave you with some wise words from Mike Myers. He said this when responding to a question from an acting student, but I think it applies to every craft:
'You're unconsciously incompetent and then you become consciously incompetent and then you become consciously competent and then you become unconsciously competent… what's impossible becomes hard, what's hard becomes easy and what's easy becomes beautiful… In that diagram, the unconsciously incompetent judge harshly the consciously competent. So the people who don't even know what they don't know judge harshly the people that know that they don't know'.
Mike Myers, Inside the Actor’s Studio