They say an overnight success takes about ten years, but in this case it was about a quarter century. Are you in it for the long haul?
Back in the 1990’s I read a story in the paper about a local twenty-something guy who sold a screenplay to Hollywood. During the day he worked for a supermarket collecting shopping carts but he was also collecting ideas in his head. On his days off he worked on action movie screenplays based on these ideas.
He ended up giving one to a friend of a friend of a friend and the script got noticed by someone in Hollywood. The premise was short, punchy and total high concept: “An aging assassin realizes he’s being hunted by a younger version of himself.”
I remember being intrigued by the premise and the interesting themes that could be explored; what it means to get old and be replaced, youth and vigor vs. wisdom and experience, and what you might tell your younger self if you could do it over again.
In any event, the screenwriter—Darren Lemke—thought he had it made but then the script fell into what is known in Hollywood as “Development Hell.” Various actors were attached to the project including Harrison Ford, and the script was re-written numerous times. Supposedly, Rian Johnson got wind of it and was sick of waiting so he wrote his own unrelated version that became “Looper” with Bruce Willis as the protagonist and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt playing his younger self.
Then after almost 25 years after the script received the green light and the film was made and released in 2019 as “Gemini Man” with Will Smith in the lead role. Apparently, it lost money, but I thought it was a decent Will Smith vehicle.
We love the overnight success story but that is rarely the case. The Beatles logged thousands of hours playing at the Cavern Club before they cut a record. Justin Bieber and countless other singers got their start performing in church. Joe Rogan started podcast in 2009 but didn’t ink the multi-million deal with Spotify until 2020.
The lesson is you need to pay some serious dues to harness the power of perseverance or perhaps don’t bother.
The question is, are you ready to double down on your dream?