Monday, November 12, 2012

When your parents don't approve

Whew. Last week was bananas. I had no idea that posting that article on Scriptshadow was going to create such a shitstorm.

But buried in the comments was this question from Astan:

This morning my folks (mom) said to me that "writing films, doing this film thing, trying to do any business, trying to get some big hit was all a fantasy. I'm living in a fantasy world." Then she implied I need to wake up and give up fantasies altogether.

How would you feel if your folks or someone important to you said something like that to you?

And I think this comment deserves some attention because I bet a lot of people can relate to this.

Personally, I say FUCK IT.

In the beginning, my mom was totally against me coming out to LA. She believed I should be a teacher, that Hollywood was a pipe dream, that working in movies was a waste of my talent.

I told her I really wish she felt differently, then I moved to Hollywood. I taught school - that made her happy - and in the meantime I just kept working on scripts. I sent her my finished drafts. She'd shrug - my work isn't her cup of tea. She didn't change her mind.

Then I was working on a period piece about a time in which she's an expert, so I called her up and asked her to help with research. She really liked that idea. Then she started going out with her girlfriends and telling them the story I was writing. Then she started giving me story notes. Then objecting to plot points I wanted to change.

Then I put her now-deceased best friend into one of my scripts, and she loved it. Then I got repped. I told her - and this is true - that the character based on her friend is one of the reasons people loved the script so much.

Now, she tells everybody who will listen that her daughter is writing movies.

In the beginning, I think parents are concerned because screenwriting is such an insecure business. They'd much rather you not going into something that crushes your soul and pays you nothing. Nobody plans for their kid to be a starving artist.

But everybody loves movies, except for crazy people. Non-crazy people, even the ones who don't watch movies that much, really enjoy feeling like a part of the process. Make your mom a part of the process.

I imagine this won't work for everybody's mom, but you can try. I bet she's got a story she thinks should be a movie. Let her give you ideas. You don't have to do anything with them, but tell her how much you enjoy her input.

My mom now sends me newsclippings about stories in the local paper that she thinks I should write about. Every now and then she'll hit on something.

Sometimes it takes some time for parents to come around. Sometimes they never do. Either way, live your life for you, not for them. They'll either get over it, or they won't.


  1. My parents didn't approve of my writing/acting either, until I started making some money. Somehow that made it "OK."

  2. My biggest regret is not having the balls to go for it early in life. I played it safe, became a teacher, got married, had kids and only then decided to seriously pursue writing.

    Now I have to wake up before dawn in order to squeeze some writing in.

    Follow your bliss.

  3. THANK YOU SO MUCH EMILY!!!! I love this post. This really builds me up. For some time now I have been looking for work/training so I can get financially stable for 2013. Then around the summer take some film workshops, study, write and so forth to my leisure without too much quip from others. I said FUCK IT myself, because this is what I want to do, that's it. It makes ME happy and I'm perfectly fine, if the folks never come through. I'll have my job, my place and do what pleases me.

    Wow, why couldn't you have commented on my DoneDeal post before a few idiots did(I feel like people over there just dont care). Since I've been following your blog for about 2 months I think, you keep it real. I love it, don't let a soul tell you any different. Thanks Again. =)

  4. I'm glad I could help. I'm bad at a lot of things, but I'm pretty good at motivational speeches.

    Robert, all that matters is that you're doing it now. And yep, Eitan, it is funny, isn't it? Money makes it easier to swallow. I guess it's the validation.

    1. That's true. It's cliche as all hell, but everything really does happen for a reason.

      I've always loved to write, but it was only while working as a teacher that I discovered my love for screenwriting. Also, I wouldn't have met my beautiful wife had I taken the road less travelled.

  5. Well, I didn't really mention my aspirations until I had some kind of evidence to show my family...i.e. getting signed by a rep...and even showed magazine clippings of the rep to show them that the rep's for real and not just some sleazy guy in his apartment.... I don't really want to make the issue an adversarial thing with those I love so I tried to make it like it's their idea.

    I see so many people unhappy with their jobs...and what they're doing now is not what they dreamed about when they were kids...or they just feel like they're just going through the motions in life. But, of course no one wants to be one check away from foreclosure either.... The pressure is especially high here in LA where status is a big deal.

    But, I do have a question for you Emily on do you know if you have what it takes to get this done (and when I say "you" I really mean me :)) It does feel like going after the mega millions sometimes. I look at Dan Fogelman's and Shane Black's scripts and they look like they've been touched by the hands of God. Sometimes the biggest critic is actually myself...and I wonder when is it ever going to happen.

  6. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
    -- M.K. Gandhi

  7. Emily,

    All those folks who trash talk you for being realistic in your three "How impossible it is to break in" posts should read this. It's great advice wrapped up in a wonderful bit of encouragement.

    Personally, I can't wait to see one of your films. And I'm really glad that your Mom "came around" - you've written about her before and she sounds like exactly the sort of person you want in your corner.

    Keep writing. And keep blogging - I'm very glad you've started back up again.



Please leave a name, even if it's a fake name. And try not to be an asshole.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.