My girlfriend knows a former senior VP at Lionsgate. When he heard I was looking for a Hollywood job, he invited us over to give me some advice. He mixed us some margaritas — the best I’d ever had, I must say — and we relaxed by his pool on a warm, Sunday evening.
I should mention, this is the same guy who, when he first met me, had giddily prepared the third-degree special when my girlfriend and me began dating. When I’d arrived at his house, he smiled and said, “NEW GUY.”
He’s a tall, imposing figure I knew could crush my head with his bare hands if I didn’t measure up. I kept an eye on his hands, as well as any blunt objects within a five-foot radius at all times.
His performance was admirable. He never broke character. If I didn’t have a sense of humor, I would have thought he hated me. Now, sitting with him by the pool, he appeared just as physically dominating, but his demeanor had quieted considerably.
He told me it’s great that I have all these interests and want to write a variety of stories. On the other hand, the way it works in Hollywood, you have six guys who are the best at, say, thrillers. If someone has a thriller script, they go to these six guys.
“It does you no good to be a jack of all trades, master of none.”
This got me thinking.
Stephen King began as horror writer. He is considered a master of the genre, but he’s a talented writer overall. If anyone doubts my use of the word “master,” you need to read his insightful memoir on the craft, On Writing (Amazon Associates). First, King got his foot in the door first. Then this gifted craftsman branched out, writing such stories as “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” (Amazon Associates), which became one of the best movies of all time.
By the pool on Sunday evening, this VP’s advice is backed by 20 years in the business. He’s seen the Hollywood players up close. Over the next few weeks, I realized working as an assistant wasn’t the way for me to move up. One day I’ll be a screenwriter and a novelist and whatever else I want to be, but first, I need to master the novel.