Saturday, October 23, 2010

Meeting Your Heroes

Post by Trai Cartwright

One of the fab things about living in LA was the constant exposure to your heroes. They were everywhere, giving away the secrets to success, providing insight into their choices as filmmakers, revealing spoilers for upcoming films – and letting us know that once upon a time, they were couch-surfing desk jockeys chasing their dreams, too.

Our filmmaking heroes spoke at writers groups and conferences, populated panels at the Directors Guild or Writers Guild, and attended Q&A's for special showings of their films. Every week an aspiring filmmaker could be exposed to and get inspiration from someone they looked up to –someone who was doing what they themselves hoped to achieve.

Here’s some of the Q&A’s I attended at the famous ArcLight Cinema: Kevin Smith interviewing Stan Lee for “Spiderman 3;” Bryan Singer and the entire production design team for “X-Men II;” Guillermo del Toro for “HellBoy” and “Pan’s Labyrinth;” Kevin Williamson for “Scream III,” Doug Atchison for “Akeelah and the Bee,” and many, many others.

What’s the value in these events?

Anyone who’s been to a great presentation by a creative person knows the value: they are living, breathing representatives of the successful achievement of the dream. You know what dream I’m talking about – you’ve been harboring it for years, too. These people did it – they broke through, they found their champions, they reached their audience, and they were received with glee and accolades and the promise of the chance to do it again.

I’m a fangirl, I admit it – more than the average forty-year-old woman but not quite in-costume at-ComicCon – I follow my heroes’ every move. To meet in person those whose work I admire revs me up like a top, and I can’t wait to get home to get to writing so I can be just like them one day. I’ve learned invaluable tricks of the trade from their casual conversation, and sincere, practical advice of the kind your grandmother gives you.

Why does Hollywood come out on a Tuesday night to talk to their fans and sit through a movie they’ve seen nine hundred times? Because someone did the same thing for them. They were inspired by their heroes, and no doubt access to them helped them see just how to find the footholds, climb the ladder and launch themselves.

If we only see our heroes from afar, their impact is tangible but considerably less than the impact of a hero up close.

So go find those events where your heroes are speaking; ask your questions and listen to their wisdom. Make the connection and you’ll see that they’re people, too – people just like you, who managed to do what you have set out for yourself to achieve.

And moreover, think of yourself as someone’s future hero. Live the dream, even if, for now, it’s just in your mind. One day it’ll be you up on that podium. Better be prepared to pass on the torch.

What’s your favorite experience meeting one of your heroes?


1 comment:

Patricia Stoltey said...

For quick some time, I've been huge Lee Child fan (author of the Jack Reacher thrillers).

When I attended Bouchercon in Indianapolis last year, I bopped up to Registration like a published author, full of energy and confidence.

Who was nonchalantly leaning against the counter? Yep, Lee Childs. I was immediately transformed into a starstruck, tongue-tied fan. I smiled and then tried not to look at him again because I couldn't think of anything to say. Nothing.

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