Screenwriting : What was your most memorable learning experience during your screenwriting, acting, etc. career so far and how has it made a difference for you? by Linda Hullinger

Linda Hullinger

What was your most memorable learning experience during your screenwriting, acting, etc. career so far and how has it made a difference for you?

Hi Everyone! Being that I am one of those introverted networkers that RB talked about….not knowing what to say in social media, (so I usually say nothing) I decided to take the challenge. However, I still don’t know what to say….so I will ask a question in hopes of learning through your experiences, and you possibly learning through mine. What was your most memorable learning experience during your screenwriting, acting, etc. career so far and how has it made a difference for you? The one that comes to mind for me was when I wrote my first screenplay in the late 90s and decided to pay a professional to critique it. I loved my screenplay and had complete faith that it would be returned to me with more than enough praise to make my day. Wow. Was I ever so wrong! I’d never seen so many red marks and harsh comments (this is cliché, too over the top, too on the nose, dumb, awful, unclear, too fast, too slow, not clever, outdated…to mention a few) on a manuscript in my life. The audio critique (which was also included) was void of anything positive, including how my main character’s name wasn’t even good. I remember being crushed and feeling foolish for wasting so much money only to be treated so badly in return. So, I packed away my screenplay and tape (actually, I debated burning them) and returned to short story writing: a creative venue that hadn’t been so cruel, but instead had rewarded me with positive feedback and publishing contracts. But, a few weeks later, unwilling to completely forfeit my new passion, I decided to drag the scratched and bleeding screenplay back out and reread the comments with a new attitude. While I admit, he did have some good points, I wasn’t pleased with his execution. But, once I got past the idea that his critique wasn’t directed at me personally (which as a fairly new writer, that’s our first inclination), it did spark me into completely rewriting the script, (in only two weeks) and not long after submitting queries and pitching the new idea, I received three requests by agents for the completed screenplay. So, now whenever I pitch an idea, I’m prepared for the worst, open to improvement, and trust that if it has merit, it will eventually shine through.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Last year I wrote a script and thought to myself, I'd love to get this script in front of Tyler Perry Studios. Five months later, it was in front of Tyler Perry Studios. My lesson learned was dream big; you've got nothing to lose.

Dan Guardino

My biggest learning experience is when I finally realized the biggest obstetrical I was facing was myself.

Anne Pariseau

Linda, that's a beautiful story! I can't think of anything specifically right now as it's getting late, but I have learned through crew work that when I have fun and work with positive, collaborative and supportive people, good things happen.

Linda Hullinger

Phillip, that is awesome! I, too, am a believer of dreaming big because life can be full of wonderful surprises. I saw that one of your Desert Island movies is Tombstone. I LOVE that movie. Was going to list it myself but ran out of spaces. lol

Dan Guardino

Yes Phillip. Shoot for the stars and you might hit an eagle but if you shoot for an eagle you might end up with a turkey, so yes, shoot for the stars.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Linda: Tombstone is definitely one of my favorites.

Adam Tester

I've heard a lot of screenwriters say they've been told how much they suck at every turn, but if you don't know how to stand back up and keep moving then you're in the wrong business. I agree with that idea, it's OK to fail as long as you get up and learn.

Izzibella Beau

All of you are an inspiration, thank you. As I prepare my first script, the anxiety and bouts of panic are too numerous to count. I will follow each of your leads, shoot for the stars, but always be ready for the bullet to come back and hit me in the ass, knocking me off my feet. BUT don't lie there wallowing in self-pity, get back up and try again .

Linda Hullinger

Thanks, Anne for the kind words about my story. It must be very rewarding being part of a crew and seeing everything come together in a positive way.

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

My most memorable moment so far during my short screenwriting career(only started in August, 2014) came when I was invited to my first film industry function. It was last year at Tribeca when RB was co-hosting a panel discussion on crowd sourcing and crowd funding. The electricity in the air was overwhelming. At that moment I knew that I was on the right path. As I celebrate my one year anniversary on Stage 32 I hope this journey of personal discovery continues. I just love telling stories. I feel "Happy Writers" is the greatest fellowship created since the Bard had the gang over for mutton and ale to talk shop.

Linda Hullinger

Izzibella, your comments reminded me of a quote by Harper Lee, "I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide." :-)

Bill Costantini

My most memorable experience came after my first session with my script consultant, too. She made me realize how extremely difficult it is to ascend to the level of being a brilliant writer. It's easy to be bad...it's easy to be good...it's even easy to be pretty good. But to be brilliant is very, very, very difficult. Very difficult. I wish I would have attended an MFA writing program at a top film school. That must be a great way to compress and absorb a lot of learning in a relatively short time.

Brad Phillips

For me it was the moment I realized that family and friends can not give valuable feedback. It was kind of a lonely feeling. On the upside not having to put that kind of pressure on the people close to me was also a relief. no expectations or disappointment from the people I love. I am glad to have found stage 32. living in a rural community has many disadvantages, but Stage 32 definitely helps bridge that gap affording many opportunities not otherwise available. That is just one of many experiences. Screenwriting in general is the most mind mind expanding thing I have ever done. Soooo much to learn, I love it!

Terri Viani

Hmmm...I've had several many many many on the technical front, which I think just comes with growing as a writer. On the personal front, I've also had quite a few. 1) When I realized that to be a writer I need to be out in the world living a complete life. As a younger writer I thought if I wasn't in front of my computer all.the.time I wasn't really committed to my goals. Now I keep a well-rounded life, and my writing (and life!) are better for it. 2) When I realized writing is a job and needs to be treated as such. 3) When I realized that it is a 100% voluntary gig. No one's forcing me to do this. So shut up with the whining, me. =) 4) When I realized I didn't actually have to obey screenwriting/writing rules.* We get so hyped up about what we can and can't do, this must happen by this page, you need beats to go like this, make sure your character is that, don't have long descriptions, on and on, till we can hardly find the storytelling for the regulations. Other than the basics of formatting, I don't worry too much about the other stuff. Great question! * I know adhering to the rules frees other writers up - awesome! If it works for you I'm in favor of it for you, I'm talking about my own process. =)

Debbie Croysdale

I'm so sorry the so called "critiques" got under your skin, a lesson to cut out the middle man, HEY you are being requested by agents! Doubt they are.

Linda Hullinger

Lynn, how interesting that changing just one word made such a big difference, not to mention how exciting it must've been to have a feature in production.

Linda Hullinger

Congratulations, Patricia! That's great about having a producer for your screenplay.

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