Screenwriting : Remember; It Can All Suddenly Happen by CJ Walley

CJ Walley

Remember; It Can All Suddenly Happen

On the 27th March 2018, I was, like many of you, years into trying my hardest to break into a screenwriting career and really starting to wonder if it would ever happen. I’ve not forgotten just how incredibly futile that feeling is and how amazing it is that so many of us get up nearly every day to write scripts and network for nothing in the hope we’ll be discovered.

The next day I was contacted by a producer/director who’d read a script of mine and wanted to work together. By summer, we had a script. By autumn, it was doing the rounds in some surprisingly high places. By winter we had a green light and, one year after the first email, I found myself on a yacht with a full film crew heading from Catalina Island to Marina Del Rey, Los Angeles, one week into my first feature film shoot, having been flown over from the UK to watch it unfold. Three weeks later, I was watching the youngest son of Chuck Norris jump a Raptor pickup truck we’d borrowed from the Top Gun; Maverick production in my first ever car chase. During the weekend following, I got to hug Steve Guttenberg after he knocked it out the park playing one of my characters and told me I’d written a great screenplay with "fantastic pacing".

It was an incredible journey and one I often found myself brought to tears during, especially after a great take or just watching the cast and crew joke and laugh during a night out together. I can’t tell you how surreal it is to know everyone’s there partly because you dreamt up some words and wrote them down. The tinsel town fantasy came true after I’d become so worn down I was convinced it could never happen.

Today I finished up and sent out a new script just six weeks after I was contacted about a project. I’ve written it in three weeks, working day and night because boy am I hungry to get back out to Hollywood and go through it all again. It’s like the rollercoaster is back climbing the crest of the hill ready to be let loose. I myself have been reminded how you can suddenly go from zero to one-hundred.

I wanted to make this post because it can feel so hopeless sometimes when you’re pushing hard and nothing seems to be happening. I was surprised how quickly the feeling returned once I was back in the UK and the film we’d shot went into post-production. It’s tough, really tough.

The fact is, things can just suddenly happen and they can happen really fast. I can assure you that writing professionally has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life from start to finish.

It is totally worth it and anybody can do it.

So, keep going, keep trying, and keep writing. Yes, it’s a struggle but it’s one worth going through for year after year to hear those wheels hit the tarmac at LAX, to see those trailers roll in on day one, and high-five a director after they yell cut.

Remember, tomorrow might be the day it all changes. Believe that and believe in yourself.

Harri-Pekka Virkki

Thanks CJ! Anything can happen if you just keep going. From zero to one-hundred!

David Whelan

Great to hear CJ and a good boost for folks like me chasing the dream.

Evelyn von Warnitz

Such a great story. Beautiful energy.

Eddie Joseph

Thank you so much for your testimony sir! I look forward to sharing my testimony of my success with you all!

Craig D Griffiths

CJ Walley is my man. Never met him, nothing more than a few email have ever passed between us. But I have a great regard for him and his efforts.

I would like to hyjack this a little. CJ talks of hard work. That is a really important thing to acknowledge.

We are craftspeople. We are not process workers. We are not making Nike Runners, we are making art. So I am encouraged by the fact, that if we stay dedicated to developing as artist, success comes.

I am so happy you have got to have that experience (and quietly jealous).

Doug Nelson

That's great C.J. - now come down off the ceiling & do it again.

Sam Borowski

CJ, a WONDERFUL recounting of what was surely a WONDERFUL experience for you. And, I wish that kind of experience for others here. I still remember some of my most WONDERFUL experiences such as a short I made called The Mandala Maker that would go on to qualify for the Academy Awards. Seeing it projected on the BIG screen in some high-end Film Festivals. Or getting to direct some amazing talent in my feature Night Club such as Oscar-Winner Ernest Borgnine, Oscar-Nominee Sally Kellerman or Natasha Lyonne. And, now as I am producing and directing a feature film I adapted ... Stay Fresh. It's a WONDERFUL feeling that I wish for everyone here. Dreams DO COME TRUE ... if you work hard enough for them. THANKS AGAIN for sharing! GOD BLESS and STAY FRESH! ;)

Anthony Moore

Congratulations. I expect to see some great films produced from your work.

Derek Reid

Been bummed out the last week or two. Inspiration! Thank ya!

Jim Boston

CJ, thanks so much for posting...and thanks so VERY MUCH for all that you do!

Stuart Wright

Well done CJ ... Anyone want to hear the enthusiasm in his voice that he conveys in his written word check out the podcast he kindly guested on when this fantastic journey was beckoning him

CJ Walley

Thanks so much for your lovely heartfelt responses. We absolutely have to stick together and support one another. I see far too much bitterness, pretentiousness, and competitiveness in screenwriting communities. This can be a beautiful thing for everyone.

A few things to keep in mind;

1) It was the second script I ever wrote that got me my first feature film job. The script had been trashed on the Black List but featured on Amazon Studios. It never made it past the quarter finals in a competition and didn't do well in querying (not that I did much of the above). It had been sitting around unloved for six years. So don't give up on those old scripts that have some of that amazing early energy, and don't give up on a script because someone gave it a three on the the Black List LOL.

2) The producer who connected with me originally found me via blog post I'd written and then went on to look at all the scripts I'd posted online. If they hadn't have been able to do that there and then, I may never have gotten my big break. So get your voice out there and make it as easy as possible for people to connect with you and your work as you may be missing opportunities every day.

3) When I was contacted, the wheels were already in motion. The producer was already talking to people about the script of mine he'd read and the commercial viability of making it. This happens a lot. You never know who's already taking your work very seriously and waiting to pull the trigger. So don't assume that nothing is happening simply because you've not been contacted. For all you know, there could be paperwork being printed now ready for you to sign.

Richard Gustason

Thanks for this CJ. Sometimes we forget how hard this can be. But the rewards are worth it.

Eddie Joseph

Thank you so much CJ for your encouragement. This is gives me the extra hope and determination to keep moving forward despite anything that happens. I look forward to any future tips and advice you can share.

Janet Goodman

We'll be following your continued success. Congratulations and thanks for the inspirational shot in the arm!

Dan Guardino

CJ. Congrats on your well deserved success.

CJ Walley

Thanks Dan, I owe a lot of it to the knowledge I've gained on here from working writers like yourself.

Ally Shina

Wow, thanks CJ. It was very kind of you to take the time to encourage us. I gave up for 3 years to run a production company and I made 1 documentary, but screenwriting keeps me up at night. I've decided to give it another try. Your post came at a magical time when I've decided to start using Stage32 again for the first time since I quit writing. This time... I won't quit.

Jennifer Strome


CJ Walley

Ally Shina, I think it's powerful when we realise that giving up isn't really an option. If we have to choose between chasing the dream and always wishing we'd chased longer, the choice is simple. I tried to give up two or three times and came back stronger and stronger.

Ally Shina

You know, you CJ are a real gent for making me feel not so terrible about the time I thought I wasted giving up. Let's hope giving up has the same effect on me and I am back stronger. Thank you.

CJ Walley

All the best to you, Ally. We have to keep helping one another up the mountain.

CJ Walley

Bit more motivation for you guys. Here's a trailer for my last project.

Kay Luke

Where are these projects? Did you get paid? Who was the rewriter?

Tell us hoe you addressed Risk in the pitch.

Ally-- CJ is just drumming up business. He'll be trying to sell you some BS notes next.

And if you decide you do want notes via Stage 32, get them from one of the Industry Professionals available. Someone who works in Production, Development, Marketing, or Sales if you can. But do not give money to non-WGA Writers for notes. It's likely to prove detrimental.

Look around-- everybody's a screenwriting consultant these days. CJ can't make a living as a Writer, but he claims he can help you do so.

As someone who does make a living in the Industry, I think not, and I'm sick of posers sabotaging the career aspiration of young people for profit.

Janet Goodman

Thrilling trailer, CJ! Thanks for posting.

CJ Walley

Kay Luke, feel free to check out my credits list in my bio or look me up on IMDb (I just cracked the top 50,000 this week!) I also linked to the trailer for my latest project right above your post. If you want to learn more, the movie is at AFM right now or you can go the premier at The Berlin International Film Festival in Feb.

I am the sole writer on all of them and credited as such.

Which pitch are you referring to? The first project or the second? Or do you want to know about the third I attached to last week? Needless to say, any investors are more than aware of risk and the director and producer credits speak for themselves.

They're very small productions though and I admit that. I'm working my way up and making great friends along the way.

I have never in my life sold notes nor wish to work as a consultant at this time. I run a free hosting website which is helping writers find work and filmmakers launch projects at zero cost. One of them is Meg Turner, a young LGBT focused writer who got her first feature assignment via the site.

While it's not much of a living, I am making one as a screenwriter and it's looking really good for next year. My compensation for writing my first feature was well within the norm for the industry. I'm very proud of that and it's like a lottery win to me.

This feels like a very personal attack full of remarkable inaccuracies and I'm wondering if it's perhaps because I notified the head of the AFM of the advice you fabricated in his name yesterday? Advice you'd fabricated to address petty arguments you've had within this lounge? Or is this still because you can't produce a single IMDb credit to your name and still want people to believe that production companies don't fill data in by default and that industry members have to pay to be listed (both completely incorrect but sadly backed up by others here).

Frankly, I find it outstanding that you've managed to accrue the best part of 1,500 posts here on Stage 32, many of which you've taken pleasure in belittling screenwriters (while some prominent members here cheered you on), and only now someone has called you out and given you enough rope to hang yourself with.

You have sadly discredited yourself and your production company, worse still, you have brought the lounge into disrepute with a highly respected industry member just when they were working with Stage 32. That latter point cuts me up, man.

Stay classy, Kay Luke.

CJ Walley

Janet Goodman, thank you so much. My mum burst into tears when I showed her yesterday.

CJ Walley

Break Even featured on the front page of The Business of Film magazine for AFM. Feel free to pick one up, Kay.

Linda Perkins

Wow CJ, your post is incredible; thanks!

Matthew Hall

Congratulations mate! I really am so happy for you!!!

Dash Riprock

Way to go, CJ!

Doug Nelson

C.J. - NICE!

Jerry Robbins

Congratulations, CJ! And your photos FROM THE SET on your blog are great, also! VERY happy for you - and all you do for us on Script Revolution.

Eddie Joseph

CJ Walley go get em!

Iliya Ghotbi

so inspiring wow!! Thanks man

CJ Walley

Thanks guys. I've been sharing my experiences and lessons learned for years so, if you're new to this, glean as much as you can from it and use it to empower you.

I want you to have what I have because it feels incredible.

This is my Medium Account and here are my Stage 32 blogs.

Phillip "No Parenthetical" Hardy

You're Relentless hard work has paid off and, it sounds like you have momentum going. Congratulations on being an overnight success.

Earl Tom Devere

Worth if CJ! And not only do you have to try to send a script out into the nether and wait and wait to the screaming silence but you can also make it happen for yourself. You can start that next script right after you finish one. Keep writing and sending it out. That works if you are determined enough. But you can also go the WRITER- Producer route if you have the skill sets and gumption to do it. Making your dreams happen yourself is a world of wonder. Thanks for the motivation CJ! And I hope I amplify it and send it back, at ya.

CJ Walley

Thanks guys. Yeah, a little momentum going now. Another potential project has come along since I made my original post and I got the treatment out for that yesterday.

As some of you know, I never really chased a career. I didn't mail out scripts, query, enter competitions or anything like that. I just networked and put my voice out there.

Break Even is due to premier at he Berlin International Film Festival (aka the "Berlinale") next Feb and it's all very new and exciting.

Jim Boston

CJ, all the BEST OF LUCK to you on "Break Even!" Way to go!

Pamela Bolinder

CJ, your posts always inspire! Here's wishing you continued success in all your endeavors!

Elisabeth Meier

Gosh, boy! Wow. Congratulation, this is amazing, you dear. Thanks for sharing and I wish you all the best and that this journey with this success -and income :)) - will go on as long as you live. Pure love from here to you!

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