It was a sunny morning in August as I sat down outside a small coffee shop on Fairfax and met the producers of a script called Chasing Fate.
All meetings follow a similar pattern. You shake hands and exchange small talk about what you’ve been up to and then eventually you talk about their script. What you have to say and how you say it is undoubtedly crucial. They’ve been working on the damn thing for months, they know the characters inside out, they know what they want to hear and you have no way of seeing inside their heads to see if you’re flying on the wings of genius or crashing and burning like a stricken fighter plane in some grainy History Channel War In The Pacific documentary. Like the pilot in that old film you take your life in your hands and propel yourself along the deck of the aircraft carrier and see if you’re flying yet. They nod as you wax lyrical about what you love and what you would like to change in their script. “Am I flying? Am I dying?” you wonder.
Just a few weeks previously I’d gone to meet a bunch of people over at Disney about a teen action movie. I felt the meeting was going great – my preparation was paying off until, on the spur of the moment, I suggested a minor approach as to how I felt you could (not should but could) take the look of the movie. They all jumped upon this idea. “Elaborate!” they asked and I did, feeling that they were truly enthusiastic about my radical idea, and their heads continued to nod and then slowly and imperceptibly their smiles slipped from their faces. I saw I had just written myself into the long list of also-rans: I was not going to get the gig. Nothing could make the last five minutes rewind. I’d crashed and I’d burnt and there were other pilots waiting to sacrifice themselves like I did knowing that just one of us would land safely at the other end.
So, as we sat in the sun and watched the traffic rumble along Fairfax Ave., I was honest. I asked the producers what they wanted to hear. They said they wanted the truth and so I strapped on my flying helmet, yelled, “Chocs Away!” and hurtled blindly into the sky. I gave it to them straight, I talked about things I wanted to change, ideas I had, cracked daft jokes and showed them a book I’d once bought about Screwball Comedies and looked for the tell-tale signs of an imminent prang.
Eventually I was out of breath and out of ideas and they shook my hand and wished me well promising me they’d be in touch. Yeah, right. Everyone says that. I walked to my car and went to start work on someone else’s script.
Well it seems that when I turned left everyone else turned right. Everytime the tracer shells came my way they either fell short or I dodged them. They tell me I’m their guy. I’ve landed safely and, looking back over my shoulder, I can see the burning wreckage of all the other pilots who didn’t make it.