Enjoying the Ride

You can be cynical, opinionated and generally contrary to most things and still be a funny person.  Standing up for what you believe in or challenging the status quo doesn’t mean you’re a chronic malcontent or a socialist.  (It doesn’t even mean you resent the rich).  And going to bed generally disturbed at the state of the world sometimes doesn’t mean you’re not ENJOYING the RIDE.

I just celebrated my 24th anniversary with the person I love and it occurred to me more than once during that day that I am a lucky person.  I mean, few of us get to have a long-lasting relationship (FYI, I did kiss more than a few toads in my day), much less a decent one (no, they are not necessarily the same thing).  I get to make money at things I love doing (teaching, writing).  I have fantastic friends, a great family and a very cool dog. (and blog!)

However, this does not mean that I walk around 24/7 with a hanger in my mouth stretching my lips into a contorted Joker-like smile or don’t often get exasperated when I turn on the TV, go to the movies or encounter the too many idiots who travel the world with me despite my preference that they just go away.  (no, they don’t have to die, just disappear).  I mean, just yesterday I found myself infuriated as I left the 3:30 pm show of something called “Martha Marcy Mae Marlene” (annoying enough, title?).  I was the crazy person you saw in Hollywood at 5:13pm outside the Arclight Theatres audibly muttering to no one in particular “Are they kidding? “ And then to myself in my car – “I can’t believe Sundance still gives awards to such indulgent crap!”

But does this mean I’m not enjoying my life?  9-9-9   Nein, Nein, nein!!!  And it certainly doesn’t mean I’m not happy.  It means I am human.  As my Facebook motto says, “You can have fun and get angry.  They’re not mutually exclusive.”

Also, I hate to quote movies, but as the psychiatrist earnestly tells the troubled teen in “Ordinary People”:  “Unless you feel pain, you’re not going to feel happy either.” (Yeah, I know you might think the dialogue is dated but so is Melanie’s music to some people and she still happens to be a goddess.

There is an odd mindset in this country that I can trace back to the more than jovial Ronald Reagan – who presided over the seemingly jovial but actually quite tragic and awful decade of the 1980s.  (which was, incidentally, not all bad for me because I did meet and fall in love with my partner of 24 years).  It goes something like this – people who protest, are insurgent or sometimes choose to scowl or occasionally express real anger at their fellow man (and/or the status quo) are:

a) unpatriotic

b) wrong

c) trouble-makers and

d) generally unhappy, disagreeable people bordering on (or crossing the line to) anti-American.

In fact, the total opposite is true.  Just as stuff makes you thrilled to be alive, things can and do mammothly piss you off!  In my mind, part of the task of any artist, or any generation for that matter, is to externalize the anger and frustration in some way that affects people, influences them, moves them, and then ultimately becomes a cog in the wheel of change.  To something better?  Hopefully.  But not always.  But life often evolves on the basis of trial and error.  That being the case, our real progresses can be charted by an up and down graph, not by one that is a straight line to what might likely be a trip to nowheresville.  The messy, back and forth exchange of viewpoints and ideas, some of which might offend, infuriate (Marcy, Missy what’s her name) is precisely the stuff that we need in order to actually be what people in the eighties thought they were aspiring to – a better world.  And take it from someone who has been in a 24-year relationship – it’s not always Zipppity-Doo-Dah, I can’t wait to get out of bed every morning because that would get as nauseating as eating my beloved pizza for every breakfast, lunch and dinner or as tiring as having to watch this clip over and over (or perhaps even once?)

As for ENJOYING THE RIDE, you can look at certain people in the news and arts and somehow know that their exterior jovial or scowling demeanor does not necessarily equate to the fact that they are truly ENJOYING THE RIDE.  To whit, some totally biased observations:

  1. Herman Cain – Thoroughly disagree with him politically and find him a bit of an offensive buffoon but yes – ENJOYING THE RIDE
  2. Tom Cruise – The biggest, richest, and perhaps most publicly enthusiastic movie star in the world, but in my humble opinion – NOT ENJOYING THE RIDE.
  3. Gloria Steinem – Brilliant writer, feminist extraordinaire, life contrarian to American patriarchy but still ENJOYING THE RIDE
  4. Bill Maher – Love his show, agree with him more than I care to admit, thrilled that he has the nerve to offend, but something tells me – NOT ENJOYING THE RIDE.
  5. Barack Obama – president during one of the worst times in American history – and yes, ENJOYING THE RIDE (How is this possible?)
  6. Gabrielle Giffords – Arizona Congresswoman shot through the head and still recovering from brain trauma, before and after clearly ENJOYING THE RIDE
  7. Katherine Heigl – Gigantic film star whose movies worldwide have grossed $1 Billion (yes, that’s a “B”), seems as if she’s the most fortunate actress in her age range at the very least yet ultimately NOT ENJOYING THE RIDE.

These observations are unscientific and totally my own yet I’m willing to stand up for them.  Which doesn’t make me right or wrong, or judgmental, just enthusiastically opinionated.  But as you ponder on just how judgmental I really am, consider the observations of current MSNBC female political commentator, business owner and former Congressional candidate with the unfortunate (or fortunate) name of Krystal Ball.  Yes – that IS her real name.  It came from her father, a physicist who did his PhD on crystals (look it up, I’m not lying) and her mother, who is an educator.  Aside from being a businesswoman and CPA, Ms. Ball ran for Congress in 2010 in Virginia and lost but, actually ultimately won.  This might be partially due to how Ms. Ball was able to lead not with her political views but by example of how she lived her life.

You'd think she'd already know the outcome...

In October 2010, one month before the elections, a photo surfaced on a right wing blog of her at a holiday party some years prior dressed as a “naughty Santa” while sucking a red dildo attached to her then-husband’s nose.  (UH, no, we’re not going to reprint it here.  You can google).  Confirming her likeness several weeks before the election and admitting the photos were “embarrassing,” she also saw fit to call the photos sexist and wrote in the Huffington Post “Society has to accept that women of my generation have sexual lives that are gong to leak into the public sphere.”  Yet, she posed the broader and more powerful issue of how society treats females, making “women into whores” and questioning “this whole idea that female sexuality and serious work are incompatible.”

Ms. Ball, who realizes her very name is both a blessing and a bit of a curse, was subsequently put on Forbes’ List of the “Top 25 Most Powerful Women of the Midterm Elections,” is remarried, has a young daughter and is now a regularly outspoken national voice on the issues of the day, owning the many facets of who she is and what has happened to her in the eye of the hurricane.  Her name is Krystal Ball and yet she seems alternately tough, traditionally feminine, angry, smart, argumentative, thoughtful and sweet.  Enjoying the ride?  You bet.  Most definitely. So am I.  On most days, at least.  Are you?

The Simple Truth

Less is more.

This is the mantra that my writing mentors taught me and that I try to pass on to those writers I mentor.  It’s tempting to hear these words to mean that working less will mean more.  In fact, it’s exactly the opposite.  It takes a great deal of thought (though not over thinking), digging and artistic courage to explore areas you find scary, embarrassing and frankly, well, private, to come up with what you see as “the truth” (or at least an artistic version of it) in any given dramatic (or comedic) situation. And then to pare it down to less, less and still less in an effort to showcase it in its most relatable and thus, understandable light.  The (not so) simple truth is by then you might be thinking – who needs this torture!  But as one mentor told me some years ago:  “No one forced you to be a writer.”  Indeed.

I was thinking about being “simple” this week when I read that Zachary Quinto — the very talented actor best known to movie audiences as Mr. Spock in the “Star Trek” reboot, to TV audiences as the villainous Sylar in “Heroes,” and to Broadway audiences as Lewis, the neurotic gay intellectual who leaves his HIV infected long-time lover of in the revival of Tony Kushner’s  “Angels in America.” –- acknowledged what many in the entertainment industry have long known but apparently many in the public were still surprised by – that he is G-A-Y.

Having been gay all of my life, what I know for certain is that publicly acknowledging the truth about your sexuality, or about anything else in your personal life, is a personal choice and full of booby traps. Although it could be simple it often isn’t because of endless internal dialogue:

What’s too much… what’s too little; why am I saying anything at all?

But by not saying this am I lying about who I am?

What good will come of this in the age of #Twitter, Facebook (hiding you), tumblr (uh…_), TMZ (bad photo), VERY high unemployment (will I lose my job?).  

The real truthy truth is words can be so easily twisted and damn it, I just want to be understood!

We feel you, ZQ

To this I say – don’t we all?  But it is in that very attempt to do so that we all, including myself stray away from the simple truth in an effort to – what exactly?  Explain what could be covered in a single line, as one screenwriting teacher once told me?  Why not just have your hero take an action, if he has to say something, make it brief because the more he says the more confused you’re making me.

I wonder if to some extent this is what happened to the quite courageous Mr. Quinto, and, I suspect, might have happened to me at 34 years old if I were a major actor and an over thinking artist – both of which I think Mr. Quinto is (and half of which I probably wish I were at some point).  Instead of simply saying: I AM GAY and I want to be honest about it, etc. etc. here is the statement currently posted on his website:

I think he said he was….wait, did he?  Let me read it again.

Good for ZQ (what great initials) for saying something. And who am I to tell him how to say it (obviously this is not stopping me).  But might it have been good, or even more good (I don’t want to say better) for what he was trying to do – which is to make a public statement about his life – to simply, say:

“I am a gay man and I want to help.  And if me living my life openly as a gay man in some tiny way helps a gay kid somewhere who is considering suicide, that’s a small sacrifice on my part.”

Maybe he could add something like, “This is a very personal decision but if all actors, young and old, came out, it would soon become not a big deal and we could get on with our jobs of entertaining people.”

If pressed he could even further elaborate: “Imagine if everyone came out?  Maybe this is not possible for everyone.  But if it slowly were to happen, I can’t help but think, or in fact know, that the bullies would be outnumbered.”

Let me be clear – EVERYONE HAS A RIGHT TO SAY WHAT THEY WANT THE WAY THEY WANT IT.  This is something I tell myself AND my students.  The issue is – what is most effective?  Being Complicated?  Being Simple?  Or something in between?

Certainly, there is nothing wrong with putting all this in the personal and political context of Jamey Rodemeyer’s tragic suicide, the “It’s Get Better Videos,” and civil equality for the LGBT community.  But as they taught us in journalism school and as James L. Brooks taught us by way of Albert Brooks’ character in “Broadcast News,” the one thing you don’t want to do when you’re trying to make a point is: BURY THE LEAD.

Meaning: how great is it when you can say what you want to say simply?  Upfront.  Clearly.  Think the inverted pyramid – who, what, when, where, why, how.  It will ALWAYS work if it’s honest because nothing works more effectively than the simple truth.  It’s the only way to counteract the bullies and the liars and the tellers or stories that deep down we know in our hearts and souls couldn’t possibly be true.

Given our current climate, one could argue simple is not best.  But remember – true simplicity is not just brief but it’s truthful – simple does not necessarily mean TRUTHFUL HONEST.  Which is where the slope gets extremely slippery and where people as smart or even smarter than Mr. Quinto, often get tripped up.  Twenty years ago when an actor I was working with as a writer (one who would soon become hugely famous and powerful) saw my wedding ring and asked if I was married, I brushed him off with a one line joke and didn’t give him the real answer which was that the ring signified the love my GAY partner and I had for each other since we couldn’t marry.  A matter of a year later this actor, who I later found out was hugely liberal and very complimentary of my work, would become nationally known for playing the part of a married man on something he produced and I realized what he was indeed asking me was – if you’re a married guy I think I’d really like to have your perspective in this next project I’m doing.  Which – I will sheepishly admit – became HUGE.

Now, there’s no way to be sure that was the case, but in this instance I think so.  So clarity, honesty, or no matter how you want to define it can cut both ways.  I don’t regret my choice (well, not too much), because it taught me something incredibly valuable.  It might seem like a risk, but more often than not the right answer is the honest and simple one.  Now don’t get me wrong, getting that job certainly would have presented an even greater set of issues and I likely would have quit or got fired because this actor was not necessarily easy.   But neither is simplicity or, at times, honesty.  Though it is always the way to go.  No doubt the latter is something ZQ will be showing us more of in both not so simple and very simple ways in the days to come.

ADDENDUM:  I can report since this writing that ZQ has personally reached out to gay organizations and committees, including one in which I’m a member, offering his help when available.  In this case, his ACTIONS speak louder than his WORDS – and that is truly rare – and something which I greatly admire.  And when it is a choice between words and actions, let’s face it – we’ll take the latter every day of the week. Bravo.

Real Horror

A drama teacher once told me that if an actor plays a scene with enough commitment even the most outlandish choices they make would work on some level.  And maybe many levels. At the very least, it wouldn’t be boring.

Such is the case with the new FX one hour camp scarefest “American Horror Story” from the creators of “Glee” (Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk).  If that sounds weird, it is, very.  But it’s not as if the creators don’t know that.  In fact, they revel in it.  Actually, they luxuriate in a bloody bubble bath of it .  Any show that in its first episode shows us:

  1. Evil, ginger-headed twin boys bent on destruction as they enter a haunted house.
  2. A Downs Syndrome girl of indeterminate age warning them they will DIE if they go inside.
  3. Jessica Lange in a stiff sixties wig channeling an L.A. version of Blanche Dubois as she pours Ipecac into chocolate cupcakes for her new neighbor’s teenage daughter.
  4. “Six Feet Under” loony Mom, Frances Conroy, as the uninvited maid of the manor with a lazy eye channeling her best Mrs. Danvers from “Rebecca.”

    Mrs. Danvers

  5. Dermot Mulroney Dylan McDermott  shirtless (and with a new fully worked out body) masturbating intensely in front of a window after his wife refuses sex with him and right after he imagines (or does he?) a much younger Conroy furiously pleasuring herself just 50 feet away in the room across the hall.
  6. Beloved “Friday Night Lights” matriarch, Connie Britton as a grieving Mom and distant wife (Dylan (or is it Dermot?) cheated on her) who breaks down enough to have sex with a guy in a black latex suit she’s only guessing to be her husband (will it be revealed to be Dermot?).
  7. And a basement of an L.A. house of indeterminate neighborhood with endless jars of dead body (or is it baby) parts and limitless powers to claw and maim anyone who comes to close while period music from the 50s, sixties, seventies or beyond plays (music like “The Doors” or your favorite 60s girl group) —

— has something less (or perhaps its more?) than the drama of “Sophie’s Choice” or the integrity of a Shakespearean “King Lear” on its mind.  What, if anything,  that will be in the final analysis, I’m not entirely sure.  But what it is right now – in October 2011 —  is unbelievably entertaining.

Why?  I’ll try to elaborate.

In an age when political candidates and movie stars spend the majority of their time pretending to be something they’re clearly not, or worse, trying to be something they think that we want them to be – anything but themselves – it is refreshing to see something, anything, that is telling you exactly what it is – camp outrageousness.  The first episode alone blatantly steals moments from every classic horror film you can imagine: from “Rosemary’s Baby,” to “Carrie,” to “Poltergeist,” to “The Shining” to “Amityville Horror,” “Paranormal Activity,” The Cabinet of Dr Caligari,” “Harvest Home,” and Hitchcock’s (or is it Daphne DeMaurier’s) “Rebecca.”   Yet there is something unbelievably invigorating when something OR SOMEONE owns who he is.  It’s as if they’re saying – “you don’t like it TOUGH! (as my little sister used to tell me when I wanted one of her dolls toys or asked her for the 12th time to leave my room).  You have to admire the spunk, even when the answer or result isn’t exactly the something that you expected or wanted or even dreaded to hear.

You might ask (if you’re still reading) — Why am I writing about a one hour show on FX that is my latest guilty pleasure (should pleasure even be guilty?) when there is so much else going on in the world much more important.  Precisely because “American Horror Story” is absolutely emblematic of what is literally going on in the world.  Every political idea of today feels taken from another era.  Every new big studio movie (they just announced Johnny Depp is starring in a remake of  “The Lone Ranger” – and not even as the title character – as Tonto!) seems like it’s a remake of something from a bygone era that we’ve already seen, probably a remake from an era even more bygone.  Most television shows feel like redirected retreads of a stand up comic’s sitcom act (except Louis CK); or a feeble attempt to cash in on a trend (“Mad Men” begets the infinitely inferior and now defunct after 2 episodes “The Playboy Club,” and the inevitably soon to be defunct “Pan Am.”).  Even Broadway is spending time and money creating new “remake” American musicals like – “The Addams Family” and “Shrek,” waving enough money that even the biggest Broadway talent (yes, Nathan Lane is  THE box-office Brad Pitt of Broadway musicals) can’t say no and thus fostering the endless, unendurable cycle of, well – what we have.

Nice paycheck, Kemo Sabe

But for those of you writing to tell me you want me to be more optimistic and less complaining – here’s the deal – you can do all of these things – “Lone Ranger,” “Addams Family, “Playboy Club,” Pan Am” and many more of, well, anything if you do them terrifically –if you are just, well, OUT there with them.  Twist the unoriginality – come in with your take and commit to it enough (as my acting teacher once said) that it can’t help be anything but original (if only due to its blatant UNoriginality).

The one misnomer of “American Horror Story” is that it is being broadcast against another not so guilty TV pleasure called “Revenge” that I also very much (no – not because a former student is a staff writer) like.  “Revenge” is a well-done Hampton’s story of, uh – revenge.  In this case the poor person, Emily, is now rich and has returned to the Hamptons because her father was destroyed and she was ripped away from him as a wee child by a group of very wealthy, over privileged, immoral residents of the Hamptons.  “Revenge” is the REAL contemporary American Horror Story and should really be titled as such – rich people preying on the poor and downtrodden (less powerful) to such an extent that the poor seek, well, you know.  We root for them all – they’re our surrogates.  (well, 99% of us).

Watch out Hamptons, here she comes!

“Revenge” has already been renewed (for the season back nine) because in this particular American horror story we are gunning (yes, gunning) for someone to get their comeuppance from the community of wealthy powerbrokers who have been so over privileged for so long that they literally don’t suspect or could ever really even conceive why anyone would go to such lengths to get even with them in the first place – so accustomed are they to living their lives the way they do.  Does that sound familiar?  Or Are we (I?) succumbing to Mob rule as ads for this new and uncannily prescient TV program OCCUPYs the billboards on our STREETS?

The late American genius thinker Susan Sontag once wrote about all this and quite a lot more in her seminal essay of the 1960s, “Notes on Camp.”  As she tried to explain it to the rest of us, entertainment that we find “campy” – meaning over-the-top, exaggerated and in some uptight intellectual circles of that (or this) time perhaps a bit inferior, served a very real and necessary function and, perhaps, was anything but.

“The whole point of Camp is to dethrone the serious,” Ms. Sontag explained. “Camp is playful, anti-serious.  More precisely, Camp involves a new, more complex relation to ‘the serious.’  One can be serious about the frivolous, frivolous about the serious.”

To my mind, the Camp of “American Horror Story,” and to a more subdued but perhaps even more accurate sense “Revenge,” are exactly what the entertainment Gods have ordered for what ails us at the moment and we should willingly – no – feverishly – take our medicine on Wednesday nights at 10 pm. (or at some other regular DVR or Hulu designated moment at your own discretion). It’ll either make you smile or make your mouth drop in disbelief from its outrageous, audacious and/or yes, hopelessly derivative camp value.  But it most certainly beats checking out the news, worrying about how you will pay back your student loans, looking at your 401K statement or any present or near future uniquely American horror that might await at your door.

Horse Manure

As unemployment soars to new records, the middle class slowly evaporates and young people are so frustrated and angry at the rigged financial system that they’ve taken to (WALL) streets across the country– I am going to talk to you about 20th Century Fox PROUDLY announcing this week its plan to make a big new movie.  That movie is – wait for it – a big screen film version of the 1960s TV show “Mr. Ed.”

For those of you who don’t remember, “Mr. Ed” ran for five years from 1961-1966 (in glorious black and white) and starred a talking horse who alternately helped, hindered and generally wreaked havoc on the life of its poor perpetually befuddled owner.

Full disclosure:  I watched the show as a (very) wee lad and have fond memories of it. But I also have fond memories of “My Mother the Car” — another not as popular sixties TV series about a guy whose mother was reincarnated as his vintage automobile and never stopped talking to him or butting into his life —  so my memories are not necessarily a barometer of anything more than, well, what I would be well-advised to eventually forget.

But back to “Mr. Ed: The Movie.”

I love animals as much as the next guy but —  do we really need a movie version of “Mr. Ed?”  Oh absolutely.  ESPECIALLY if you are an executive at a major film studio OR a major film producer trying to get a movie made in 2011, 12, 13 (or the foreseeable future) at ANY of our major (or even mini-major) movie studios.

And here are some of the reasons.  Check that – Here is the PRIMARY REASON – and in the words of “Mr. Ed”’s very proud veteran movie producer David Friendly:

‘It’s always the perfect time for a FOUR-QUADRANT FAMILY MOVIE.  Those are the movies that have the strongest pull  As a producer I try to envision the poster and this one looks pretty good….”

Really?  Yeah.

We all feel like Biff.

For those not up on the latest movie biz marketing lingo or don’t have “The Google” to look it up, let me translate.

A “four quadrant” movie crosses across all genders and all ages we can measure.  The quadrants are men or women (that makes two quadrants) who are under age 25 or over age 25 (that makes four quadrants total).  From a business perspective, the more quadrants you can potentially attract, the more money you will make.

In other words, if you have a broad enough appeal to your film (or as these biz folks call it, your ASSET), you are designing a blockbuster.  Which is, of course, the ultimate goal.  Because, as you may or may not know, creating a real 2011 blockbuster by today’s movie standards doesn’t mean you’ve created solely a movie. No – you’re actually the BIRTHER of an ASSET that can be associated with toys, games, restaurant tie-ins, theme park rides and many other more avenues of replication (including numerous sequels) that should set up you and your employer/partner quite nicely for many moons to come.

Notice:  Nowhere in that analysis does the idea of storytelling, creativity, emotionality or passion come into the equation.  This in, in fact, NOT a criticism of studios or the people who love or work for them.  This is merely a retelling/relating of 2011 FACT.

Now, before any and all creative people go ringing their hands or ripping down the door of the closest marketing executive or even hedge fund manager (something tells me the latter are all quickly relocating to numerous secret worldwide underground bunkers even as we speak), I am also happy to report that the very day  “Mr. Ed: The Movie” was announced it was proudly proclaimed that rock star PINK (using her real name of  Alecia Moore) would star in a very different type of other film with the likes of Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim Robbins and many others.  This new film is written and will be directed by Stuart Blumberg, the Oscar-nominated co-writer of “The Kids Are All Right.”  And this film is called “Thanks for Sharing” and is about – wait for it – a group of recovering sex addicts.  Yes, it’s true.  And that is about as far from “Mr. Ed” as you can get (unless you consider the plotline of Edward Albee’s brilliant 2002 play, “The Goat,” but I digress).

FYI, “Thanks for Sharing,” is being produced by William Migliore and David Koplan, two well-known NY indie producers  for Class 5 Films, a company where Mr. Blumberg’s Oscar nominated self (you get a lovely certificate and A LOT of cache even when you’re nominated) is also PARTNERED.

NOW — aspiring screenwriters, producers and directors (and veterans who still aspire to get our current projects made one day)  listen up:

There is NO major studio attached to Mr. Blumberg’s cutting edge subject matter film nor will there ever be until a distribution deal gets made after at least a rough cut is favorably screened. Film studios (for the overwhelming most part), are NOT in the “Thanks for Sharing” business any longer nor have they been for some time.  Nor can they be expected to be… ever again.  That’s like waiting for your bankers to thank you personally for bailing them out or expecting Barack Obama to suddenly morph into Franklin, or even Eleanor, Roosevelt.  Economics, logic and reality tells us this is not going to happen no matter how much we keep hoping that it just might.

However – and it’s a big however but I absolutely know it to be true right down to the core of my bloodied, bruised self and the selves of all my close friends –  there is more than one way to fight a fight; win a game; or get the “spoils.”  And for aspiring writers, producers and directors we’ve lucked out because that is where our secret weapon – our CREATIVITY – comes in.

I am writing this as much for me and my frustrated other contemporaries as I am for you.  Do NOT expect the film studio(s) who are making “Mr. Ed” to be interested in your passion projects, or even most of your perceived mainstream projects.  And don’t spend another millisecond even being slightly or marginally upset about it.  Be powered by the knowledge that you have the ultimate solution – your creative self – to figure out a way to make it work (No, this is not a new age rant – merely truth).

Maybe “Mr. Ed” is your thing . Then – good for you!  (FYI, they’re using a real horse but CGI’ing his mouth).  But if you’d rather see a movie about a group of recovering sex addicts, or a movie about anything that wasn’t the subject of a TV show in the sixties or in some other way doesn’t aspire to or fit into the “four quadrant” paradigm, then:

  1. Do you work and make it the best that you can.  And –
  2. Take all of the original thinking it took to bring your work to this point and use it to enlist people you like, admire or respect or even whom others respect who will help you get your project (effort) realized.

No one does it alone.  But letting the movie studios dictate what you are going to do or what kind of professional life you are going to have, is like giving Bank of America the power to charge you a $5 monthly fee for the use of your debit card when there are plenty of other ways to purchase goods and pay your bills.  You, and only you, are the CEO of your own company.  Which means that you and only you are in charge of the company (or companies) that you choose to keep.

More simply put, what would Steve Jobs do?