The following Article was written for the Australian Writer’s Guild (AWG) ‘Storyline’ Magazine which is currently available through the AWG.
Foreword: Since Steve Jobs ‘retirement of sorts’ pretty much every Mac-Head has had the desire to write about the great man. I thought I would add to that with a recent article which was published ‘pre-announcement’ which highlighted just how his innovation has directly affected myself as a creative, and my company as a whole.
Galvin Scott Davis discusses how advances in Digital Media Platforms and Steve Jobs saved his Story:
(From ‘Storyline’ Magazine 2011)
I can vividly remember the phone conversation as I waited for the delay to kick in from Los Angeles. “I’m sorry – the deal fell through… your script is dead”. The words that every writer dreads, words designed to destroy your ambition, your will. It took a few seconds to register what my agent was telling me.
Forget the three years of drafting, the twelve months of polishing on the final submission. Come again? – “What do you mean, it’s dead? How can a story be dead?”, I heard myself mumbling back down the line.
“We’re sorry. That’s just the way it is. You should just forget about it”.
As all writers can attest, forgetting about your labour of love is an implausibility. It doesn’t work like that – you don’t incubate, give birth and nurture a script only to be told that it should be farmed off to the nearest orphanage.
To put some context around the phone-call that I had received – 12 months earlier I had the good grace and fortune to have had my short film ‘Brother’ (NSWFTO YFF Funded) win two US film festivals (Beverly Hills Film Festival and The Los Angeles Silver Lake Film Festival) back-to-back. Call it lucky timing, kismet or plain jam buggery – but they both landed in the same week, and I’d spent my hard-earned cash to be in attendance.
Within hours of the award ceremony I had secured a Hollywood agent and began the rickety climb to the top of the first peak in a very bumpy roller coaster ride. Within months I had returned to Los Angeles on a whirlwind trip of spec meetings for my feature film screenplay – “Stricken”. A supernatural gumshoe detective thriller – a modernised Raymond Chandler fable with horror undertones (or “Lethal Weapon meets Constantine” as my unyielding agent liked to pitch it).
To cut a long story – the pitches went really well, a deal was set up and a mini-major came onboard the project. I was flabbergasted that this, my dream, could actually happen so damn fast. But then two weeks is a lifetime in Hollywood phone-calls. Ironically, as with all Hollywood stories – they rarely have a Hollywood ending. And so we need only skip forward a mere two weeks and we return to that fateful phone-call that changed the way I looked at producing content forever.
The deal had fallen through – one key person had left the studio and that had put in place a chain of events that would result in the script being shelved. The script was hot; Now, it was not. It seemed to me to be as callous and as simple as that. I took a moment to consider the lead character that I’d developed for ‘Stricken’ – Connor Mew, a pugilist anti-hero that never quits, refuses to stay down. What would he do? Would he let his story die? Or would he dust himself off and go back for more punishment?
CONNOR V/O: “The heavy head of the vintage phone handle rattled on its cradle like a deathwatch beetle foraging for food. Let it ring… ignore the call. It’s bad news. It’s always bad news…”
Okay – so Connor lives in movie-land and talks like he has a mouthful of quarters but I like his sentiment. As writers, we have to deal with rejection at many stages. This was the first time that I had actually found rejection to be the catalyst with which to keep moving forward.
Case in point – The rejection was obviously an oxymoron: how can a story be ‘dead’? A story doesn’t die, does not wither – it simply isn’t read. A story is ‘alive’ the second it meets the page, and lives on from the moment one person absorbs it and commits it to memory.
The defining moment from that phone-call actually came when I hung up the phone and placed it on the table in front of me. As I sat and stared down at my iPhone for the next ten minutes – I realised that the key to taking control of my Story had been in the palm of my hand all along.
Everything about the iPhone screamed “Let it Live”. This was a device that refused to work within the boundaries of normal thinking. It wasn’t a phone, it was determined to be so much more than that. I’d already had some experience with iPhone’s (I am also Director of Protein, a Sydney Digital Agency), having developed some successful Apps, and was accustomed to the thrill of releasing digital products.
So why not “Stricken”?
I stared at the heavy, uneven stack of scripts that wobbled on my shelves which were destined to a life of dust and wanton glances. And I began to look at them in a different light. Were these simply cursory diversions on the way to selling ‘the one’. Or were they actually just waiting for someone to resuscitate them in a different format? The dormant tower of unloved manuscripts on my shelf suddenly began to look like products on a purveyors window display.
CONNOR V/O: “Pick yourself up. Better shift gears, work the angles before I drag you kicking and screaming into the new century”.
It was time to start thinking about my writing in the same way that I approached my business – move with the times, keep ahead of the trends. What the iPhone (and iPad to come) has presented to us as Creators, Authors, Illustrators et al, is a window of opportunity. A digital platform with which to bring our stories to life, to our audiences as we intended them. And more importantly, without prejudice. I’m not stating for one moment that every Tom, Dick and Harry should start releasing digital Apps with their back catalogue – more-so, that at least now, there is the option to invest in ones own work should you feel that passionate about it.
There is a significant investment to be had, I won’t kid you. Partnerships, resources, late nights and cold hard cash. Yet with every fleeting pang of regret along the process I simply reminded myself that I had already invested more than three years of my time in something that would mean nothing to anybody unless it saw the light of day. I would never get that time back, but then that was never the point in the first place, was it? We write for others, not for ourselves. And if there is no channel for others to read our work then we are simply hobbyists with ‘one more great idea’. Lost in a sea of ambitious scribes.
CONNOR V/O: Wake up. Time is running out for you my friend – shadows weigh heavy in your midst tonight. Listless cloaks of nothingness that cling to your limbs