What Writers & Filmmakers Can Learn From Tim Tebow

DANNY MANUS – SCRIPT CONSULTANT/SCREENWRITER

 

My friends over at the Film Courage Radio Show posted this idea for an article on Facebook last weekend after the Denver Broncos Quarterback and current Reigning Poster Boy for Jesus, Tim Tebow, scored his 6th consecutive win during yet another overtime upset. And as a huge football fan myself (Go Giants!), I started to think about how much filmmakers and writers in Hollywood – or those trying to break in – actually could learn from him.

Here’s this kid from some po-dunk town in Florida who dreamed all his life of playing in the NFL – the big leagues. Making it. He started young, he studied hard, he played and watched thousands of hours worth of football, he went to college for it, when others went out partying he was home studying playbooks, he’s multi-talented and developed a range of abilities in that he can both pass AND rush when he has to, he broke records, he won minor championships that lead to bigger ones, he got press, he stayed true to himself, he knows his voice, he is competitive yet respectful, he is collaborative with his teammates and gives them just as much credit (if not more) than he takes for himself, he is controversial to say the least, he is unapologetic, and he has a blind unwavering faith.

You better believe that these are the same characteristics, qualities, and behaviors you need to encompass, portray and achieve to be successful in Hollywood.

Now of all of those, it is Tebow’s unabashed faith in Jesus Christ and God that has drawn the most attention — and criticism. I think the only people who cite Jesus and God more than Tebow are politicians trying to win elections in the South and rappers who just get out of prison and win an award.

As anyone who reads my columns knows – I’m not exactly drinking buddies with Jesus. But, I find it fascinating that other quarterbacks – even John Elway who is now in the front office of the Denver Broncos – look down at him for this. Perhaps it’s because most quarterbacks think THEY are God and THEY are the ones responsible for every good thing that happens on that field, so they don’t want some other deity sharing the spotlight.

Sounds like plenty of writers and filmmakers I know. But it’s Tim’s blind faith (as that’s what all religion boils down to) that pushes him to win. Let’s face it – Tebow kind of sucks for the first 50 minutes of every game. But he doesn’t care because he knows when it comes down to the wire, God will see him to victory. And he just keeps forging on!

His faith has changed the way his TEAM looks at the game. His faith has made THEM believers – if not in Jesus, than at least in Tebow. And more importantly, in themselves. And Tebow has learned from his faith to be humble, be collaborative, be gracious, be optimistic, keep smiling, and when a critic or a colleague calls you a failure and a drop in the pan joke – you turn the other cheek and you just keep throwing the damn ball.

I am certainly not saying you should all drop your pens and pick up a Bible. I’m the last person on Earth who will say that. But what I am saying is that his faith in his own talents, the faith that his talents will overcome the adversity he faces, and the faith that there is something or someone bigger than him driving him to win – you need that to
keep going in this business.

Tebow himself started out with the odds against him. He was expected to be a stillbirth and his mother was encouraged to get an abortion, but she refused to let him go. A graphic and grim analogy to ones scripts for sure, especially since I do NOT believe that your script is like your baby (as you can read in one of my other articles), but the comparison is still there. Even if you think your script may be a lost cause, you should try whatever you can to make it work before tossing it aside.

Tebow was homeschooled throughout his youth – something I am normally not a fan of at all – but so many writers these days are self-taught that I thought it was an interesting point. The upside of being homeschooled and self-taught is focus and learning self-discipline. The downside…is focus and learning self-discipline. If you are a self-taught writer, then all you are learning is what you want to learn. You’re not being forced to see the world from others perspectives and the same can be said about homeschooling which is why I’m not a fan, and also probably why Tebow is so…what’s the best term…clear in his religious views. But it works for him. Everyone has their own path to learning what they need to succeed.

And when the local school district didn’t allow him to play football – he and his family moved to where the football was. They didn’t sit around on their haunches and demand that Hollywood – err, football – come to them – they went to IT!

A more perfect parallel to Hollywood I’m not sure exists.

Now there is a negative here to Tebow that I think writers could also learn from. It’s Tebow’s faith and outspoken religious fervor (and his pro-life commercial) that got him most of his press (at least before he started winning). If Tebow wasn’t so vocal about his message and his beliefs, he probably wouldn’t have as many detractors and probably would have had an easier time breaking in. And so you need to be careful sometimes and choose your battles as Hollywood is no different. But at the same time, it’s what makes Tebow stand out. It’s his voice. Many don’t like it, but those that do, flock to him and stand by him with passion.

Now, my agnostic rumblings do force me to say this about blind faith – it’s usually one-sided. So, when Tebow’s hot streak ends and he loses a game – I hope he will subsequently also blame Jesus and say, “Well, I guess God wanted us to lose.” It’s only fair, right? I won’t hold my breath.

But until that happens, Tebow and the Broncos are riding their faith to victory and making believers out of many. And if you can do that with your writing, your success is all but pre-determined.

Check out Danny Manus on the Film Courage podcast episode #93 here.

BIO:

Danny Manus is an in-demand script consultant and founder of No BullScript Consulting, which can be found at www.nobullscript.net, and author of the E-book “No B.S. for Screenwriters.” He was ranked one of the Top 15 “Cream of the Crop” script consultants in CS Magazine in 2010. He was previously the Director of Development for Clifford Werber Productions (Cinderella Story, Sydney White), a Development Consultant for Eclectic Pictures and the DOD at Sandstorm Films, which had a first look deal at Screen Gems. He is also attached to produce several projects independently, is a columnist for Business of Show Institute and teaches workshops all across the country.  Please visit his site at at www.nobullscript.net.