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!

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

Thanks!

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iBvrORaU0k

Janet Goodman

Thrilling trailer, CJ! Thanks for posting.

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 Bradshaw Rogers

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!

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 "Le Raconteur" 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!

CJ Walley

Beth Fox Heisinger & Shawn Speake how do I go about reporting the abuse in this thread?

Kiana Kleemm

Hey CJ, Congratulations! This is great! Wish you all the best.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Report through "Contact Us" found in the bottom menu bar or reach out to a moderator. Again, I have already reported to management, and CJ, you are an affiliate of S32 so I assume you have direct access as well. Plus, it's the holidays and, sorry, but we need to be patient.

Ally Shina

It has taken me a whole month to decide whether or not to respond to Kay Luke because his comment was directed at me. I don't like conflict... but in the last month I realized I don't like "haters" more. Why you hating Kay Luke? So what if the guy made progress in his career and he had the mind to inspire and be acknowledged as someone with the experience to consult a script? So what? That's how life and social media works. In fact CJ was a real gent about it. Some consultants don't even take the moment to inspire. They just post a poster of their latest production success and then later advertise their services.

Now Kay you hater, I want to give you something to consider... the option of becoming a script consultant when writing no longer pays, is a non option for you. You just hated yourself out of the industry's top secondary job. No, you are not allowed. And I hope someone who can enforce this on you for the rest of your life reads my comment.

Also, I've consulted a script ones and I enjoyed it. It was for a film student who read one of my scripts and according to him, I was a competent enough writer to help him improve his graduation film. And boy where his lecturers impressed... I got such great satisfaction from consulting that student's script that one day, when I've decided the time is right, I too will add script consultant to my S32 profile and you know I won't be motivated by money. I'll be motivated by the thrill of it. I loved thinking story when the story was conceived by someone else. But just because I will do it for the thrill... it doesn't mean those who do it for money are wrong. In fact they should do it for the money because it's called a job. Now you gonna be hating on people for trying to eat. No hater, no.

Like no.

Stevan Šerban

CJ - I wish you success in your future work!

Craig D Griffiths

Ally Shina I made this comment in another thread. I am just going to ignore him, the lies, self promotion and hatred. A response like yours, considered and filled with emotion just feeds trolls.

Ignore them.

Lance Ness

Glad for you. My agent should have a sale for me next month. After 4+ years the light may be appearing soon.

Craig D Griffiths

CJ Walley we can just hope that people do due diligence and see the pile that some people shovel.

I hope people search and learn the truth.

I encourage Googling ScriptRevolution.

Ally Shina

Craig, it took me a whole month to decide whether or not to respond to him and I decided it needed to be said.

Trolls never needed any encouragement from me to troll people.

Also, I'll say whatever I want, when I want because there can always be a reason why a person shouldn't say something. I will censor myself according to my own judgment.

Oh and ignoring people isn't always the right thing to do. Sometimes ignoring them makes them think because nobody complained, it means they were never wrong. And I'd rather read a post from a troll than read abusive comments.

CJ Walley

As mentioned in other threads, Script Revolution is still going strong. Over 6,000 scripts, over 5,000 members and now hosting the equivalent of over $1,000,000 per year compared to the Black List. Last night, I announced that a member has sold a feature script for five figures. Over 130 people pledge monthly to help keep the site running and it's now affiliated with Stage 32 to deliver the new education section.

Meanwhile, it's very much pitch season for me and my producers as we try to get projects greenlit for the year coming.

I will always go after those misrepresenting themselves and others.

Apolos Israel

Yo thanks for the inspiration dude. Working on my first short now and hoping to make it big some day. Keep up the good work.

Pamela Bolinder

CJ Walley, I respect your efforts and honest representation of the facts. I'm a proud member of Script Revolution! Doing and saying what is right always pays off!

Craig D Griffiths

CJ Walley as you know (others may not) I have sold scripts through your site. Not for huge sums, but that is a reflection of the work, not the site.

Try as I might to turn you into a greedy capitalist, the site remains free for writers.

There is meal and drinks coming your way the next time I am in the UK.

Derek Reid

Pamela - good to see you!

Pamela Bolinder

Hey, Derek! You see less of me because I'm giving more attention to writing. That said, I do jump on Stage 32 from time to time to read many of the threads and appreciate all the wonderful insights from many of the posts. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Derek Reid

Pamela - nice to hear! Hope that your projects are going well and that you have a wonderful Christmas!

Daphne Russell

Thank you so much for this! I know you wrote it months ago, but I just recently finished my first screenplay and found Stage 32 and reading this gives me such hope about the journey ahead.

Joseph F. Alexandre

Congrats man!

Debbie Croysdale

@CJ Thanks for this share. I've only just seen it now and it's the shot of positivity writer's need, not just in general but particularly now in our Covid confinements. We are all waiting for the trap to spring and I'm sure it won't be long before you're back over the pond. Congratulations on your feature and forthcoming screenplays.

Karen "Kay" Ross

Ah, CJ Walley you're speaking to my soul, man! I was told by a friend from high school early on when I arrived in LA (about nine months ago) that she was proud that I never gave up. Little did she know that I have held onto this dream since I was 12 (to be a director) and even before that when I stupidly told my father that I would become a better actor than he ever was... at 5! LOL! But I've played the process of elimination game, and I know there's nothing left out there for me. I know that reads as stifling, but it's actually freeing, the focus and determination. Thank you for sharing, sir! I look forward to reading your blog posts!

CJ Walley

Daphne Russell, congrats on completing your first screenplay. That's a huge achievement and you must be buzzing. The industry is somewhat daunting but just keep going at it step by step.

Thanks Joseph F. Alexandre.

Debbie Croysdale, absolutely and you are a fantastic source of positivity in my life. Someone from my area has started doing a series of interviews to inspire and motivate people through the Covid lockdown. You can see my interview here.

LOL that's some serious ambition for a 5 year old, Karen "Kay" Ross, and I hope my niece is that determined in a couple of years too. That's what it takes though and seeing how much your dream can mean to your friends and family is a truly humbling experience.

Jaye Adams

Simply awesome and well said post! Thanks CJ :)

S.B. Goncarova

Thank you CJ for this inspiring post. Please keep us posted on your progress!

Pedro Babiak

Great post CJ! I'll keep plugging away. Thanks for the inspiration.

Angela VanZandt-Bumpass

I needed to hear this. Thank you.

CJ Walley

Well, despite Covid setbacks. Break Even released in North America on Tuesday after getting a shoutout from Steve Guttenberg on KTLA Morning News and an article in US Weekly. We have the Virtual Launch Party tomorrow (Friday).

What was really cool was to see it listed on Fandango Now only a few places from a film Stage 32 recently got involved with "Chick Fight". It was wonderful to grab a screenshot and tag Richard "RB" Botto on instagram.

And it all suddenly happened again. A meeting in late Sept led to a greenlight a week later, a script two weeks later than that, and it's now mid-way through production. I'm a producer on this one and have formed my own production company "Rebelle Rouser". Here's some coverage in Deadline on Double Threat.

What's super-cool though is Karen "Kay" Ross is working (and performing as an extra) on set! Amazing how things workout and a blessing to keep Stage 32 so close on my journey. Just wish I could be there.

Script Revolution is growing faster than ever and forming powerful alliances now with over 8,000 members, mentions in Film Courage interviews by Shane Stanley and recommended as a script marketing platform by ScriptHop.

The big lesson learned this this year? There's entrepreneurial writers and there's corporate writers. Know which kind you lean toward and, if you're one of the former, always be prepared to leverage your position.

Keep fighting the good fight guys, be proud of your artistic voices, and don't let people put your down here or anywhere else.

Pamela Bolinder

CJ: You always inspire. Warm regards!

Janet Goodman

Wowee! Congratulations!

Matthew Parvin

Can always use encouragement. Thank you for sharing your story.

Derek Reid

foot's up!

Kyle O'Connor

So happy for you! Loved reading this!!

Vital Butinar

Awesome! So great! Congratulations. Thank you for sharing and the motivational lift up.

Karen "Kay" Ross

So inspiring! Thank you so much for this, CJ!

CJ Walley

Thank you for all your help on the latest movie.

For those that don't know, we successfully wrapped principal on an action-comedy feature through Covid while keeping everyone safe and following all SAG guidelines. We did this in just three months following an initial concept meeting. Everyone in the team was amazing and had a lot of fun.

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