Sunday, May 04, 2008

Previously, on Bangladoink...

Forget It, Tom, It’s Tinseltown
After 5 stressful years of me trying to make it as a screenwriter in LA, my wife and I moved back to Texas to raise our new baby daughter, Amelie, amongst family. I tried to put a positive face on, but, honestly, I felt defeated, crushed, like I’d given up on a dream.

This town'll chew you up, kid.

Deep In The Heart Of Texas
We moved in with my parents while I put the screenwriting thing behind me and looked for a “real job.” Couldn’t find one. Felt like a terrible husband and father. Still, my wife and daughter flourished, I'd never seen them so happy. And we were surrounded by people who love us. I figured it was a fair trade, my dream for my family's happiness. So I kept my dark thoughts to myself.

Mom shows off Amelie to extended family all over Texas.

It’s A Small World, After All
A few months later, hope from out of the blue: The organizers of the Disney/ABC Writers Fellowship called to tell me I was a finalist. It's a year-long program that pays you to write a screenplay while studio execs mentor you through the process of working in the studio system. It was incredible, after thinking I had failed at screenwriting, after months of looking for work unsuccessfully in Texas, I got another shot at the dream. It'd been so long that at first I didn't even remember I had applied to the program.

The Team Disney Bldg., where all the finalists were interviewed.

Enchanted, I’m Sure

Disney flew me out to LA, to meet the 14 other candidates for the 4 open writer slots, as well as the execs who act as mentors. Despite a few setbacks (like not getting more than 2 hours sleep during the 2-day event, and that in the back of a rental car), it felt like I'd won the lottery. At the very minimum I could get people to read my scripts now. And if I could just land an LA manager I could return to Texas and write from there. I mean, there were Ivy League candidates, I wasn't holding out much hope that Disney would choose me over these other talented people. (I later found out it's harder to get into the Fellowship than Harvard.)

Jason Reed, the Disney exec who worked on Enchanted.

I’m Going To Disneyland!
Two weeks after the writers strike ended, Disney called to tell me I made it into the Fellowship! I jumped up and down and squealed like a little girl, then my wife and parents joined in. We made such a racket that it freaked out my little girl and she started crying. My wife and I decided I’d move back to LA for the program, while she and my daughter stayed in Texas. Just before leaving, we bought our first house, which we could not have done without the Fellowship. Thanks, Walt!

Amelie and daddy in the backyard of her new home.

Walking On Sunshine

I’ve been in the program a month now, and I still have trouble believing this experience is real. I would say it’s a dream come true, but the fact that I don’t have my wife and daughter with me keeps the situation from being too perfect. Pretty darn close, though. The biggest media company in the world pays me to write full-time, while my girls are safe and happy in our new Texas home. Every time I drive onto the Disney Lot and walk to my office, I say in my head, “Thank you, God. Thank you, God” with every step I take.

On the lot with my spiffy new Disney ID card.

On the next Bangladoink: Episode II – A New Hope.


At 9:40 PM, May 16, 2008, Blogger Nel Pastel said...

Man, I really need to check my feeds more often — I just saw this!

You gotta cut this "strong, silent type" crap though, my friend — I hope you know that you can always talk to us about anything, and you're never a failure if you're making an honest effort. Your family loves you, your wife and daughter love you, and your friends love you. Don't forget that, alright?

Now get crackin' on part two!


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