Los Angeles. Land of possibilities—a world unto itself where anything is possible. We’ve been here less than 12 hours and already, the Regent Hollywood Experience is going off-book. Once all 13 of us made it to our apartments (pictures and videos forthcoming), we had a welcome meeting. You know the type: introductions, information overload, lots of questions about what to expect.
But this particular meeting also included just the kind of surprise all of us have been anticipating for months. Award-winning filmmaker Christine Swanson, who isn’t on our speaker roster but is a film school friend of Regent professor Booker Mattison, just stopped in to meet and share with our group. Completely impromptu. She shared her story, her triumphs, her failures, and her advice to budding writers aspiring to make our mark on this crazy business one day.
“Talent is meaningless; humility is everything; preparation is key,” she said, shattering any artistic illusions of grandeur we may have carried with us across the plains. But anecdote after anecdote reiterated what we East Coast film students constantly hear, but sometimes have a hard time accepting: connections count. Sometimes more than great talent.
However, Swanson seasoned this cold reality by encouraging all of us to first keep our priorities in order: “You can never do enough or have enough success to be happy if you’re not centered in God.”
Second to that is excellence in our writing—calling is never an excuse for anything less and all the connection in the world doesn’t make up for poor story. And getting to “excellent” takes a lot more than talent and calling, she said.
“There’s nothing God can do for you if you’re not willing to put in the work first.”
Well, Hollywood, we’re here to work. Today we put our proverbial nose to the grindstone, crane our ears to the experts and poise quivering fingers over our keys. By the time we leave this place, we’ll know what it means to work hard in this industry and, based on Day 1’s experience, we’ll leave a little wiser, a little humbler, and a lot more prepared for the part we’ve been given to play.
Show us what you’ve got, L.A.
Amanda Morad is blogging from Los Angeles as she participates in the Regent Hollywood Experience, a two-week total immersion experience in the professional world of Hollywood television.RegentLA