4 Reasons To Quit Screenwriting by Lee Jessup

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

4 Reasons To Quit Screenwriting

Film Courage:  Criticism makes our best work?

Lee Jessup:  Absolutely!  Listen, I believe in kind criticism.  I don’t believe in cruelty for the sake of cruelty.  But I don’t believe we learn much from compliments.  I believe they can certainly boost our ego and make us feel good.  But the learning happens from what we can improve what we can do better.  That is how we grow.  While flattery and compliments feel great, we’re not going to walk out a better writer tomorrow from what we learned from the compliment.  We’re going to perhaps be more self-assured what we did originally well (which is great) and I’m not discounting that.  But criticism is what teaches us and challenges us to become our best.

Getting it Write

Film Courage:  What was the internal dialogue you had when you determined that screenwriting for you…sitting down…writing a script…maybe wasn’t what you wanted to do but you wanted to coach people, you wanted to bring out there best?

Lee Jessup:  For me it was really about the development process when I realized what a foolish child I was thinking that you can write a script and then fast forward 6 or 9 or 12 months and seeing it brought to the screen and being on set and watching your vision come to life.  I understand that I came to it from a very naive point of view, from a fantasy based point of view that wasn’t the reality of how movies get made and what the writer’s experience is.  And I ultimately realized that this wasn’t the experience I wanted to have or that would make me happy or fulfilled in my day-to-day life.  And I was lucky enough to have discovered that at a fairly young age (at the age of 23) to say “Whoah!  That…no.  Nothing about this is exciting or motivating for me.”  That said, I always loved story and I always loved writers and from there I went to development and realized that my heart was with the writer.  The writers were my people.  More so than the directors (that I never really got) or the actors (that I dated but never really got).  My heart was with the writers and so I wanted to foster talent.  I wanted to support writers.  And it’s funny because today if I watch a tennis game and the person wins (somebody wins) and goes out and jumps up and down and they’re excited, the person I identify with is not the tennis player.  The person I identify with is the coach that you get one second of who is just so proud and feels so rewarded for what their player had done.  For me that is the most fulfilling experience.  Being able to help others and being in the position where somebody comes to me and says “I need help.”  I think that is a highly privileged position to be asked to provide help and in an area in which I can help.

Film Courage:  Have you seen people who have the notion (whether it’s to be a great pianist or to be a great writer) but in terms of the day-to-day actions that they are going to undergo, it’s actually not what they are suited for?

Lee Jessup:  Absolutely!

Film Courage: And what is that temperament and what is that temperament…[such as] it’s being alone, it’s being driven, it’s being task-oriented.

Lee Jessup:  It’s not just that.  I know a lot of “writers” (and these I’ll put that in quotation marks) who talk about writing all the time.  Who talk about what they want to write, how much they want to be a writer and how much they want to be in a room and how much….but…never make time for the writing itself.  So those are the writers who will usually bring me to the conversation of “Do you really want to write? Because you are talking about it all the time, but you’re not actually doing it.”  And if you’re a writer who is not writing, then what are you in terms of this career?  You have to have the discipline.  You have to have the desire.  You have to have the drive.  And you have to be willing to make the sacrifice that most writers do that it takes in order to become a writer.  And that means waking up in the morning early if you have a day job.  Or writing on the weekends or writing after hours rather than running around partying with your friends.  For most writers, there’s a lot of who are not independently wealthy, right?  They are not going to be able to sit around all day and take 4 hours a day to write and go party and go run around and travel the world.

So most writers are going to find themselves in a situation where they are going to have a day job.  Potentially they have a family, they have a partner, they have friends, they have relationships they want to maintain and so writing is going to demand some level of sacrifice.

Watch all of Lee Jessup’s Film Courage video interviews on Youtube here


Watch the full video interview with Lee Jessup here on Youtube












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