Enlightenment: Going to the Movies

By Michael Schilf · July 26, 2010

Why screenwriting? If it’s writing you love, why not become a novelist, journalist, or copywriter? What is it about screenwriting that pulls you like ambrosia?

If the answer comes down to making interesting sums of money while gaining fame and glory… well, then I pity you. You will most certainly suffer. And I say, stop. Please. Do not write one more solitary script word.

But if your soul-searching answer reaches the honest conclusion that you can do nothing else but write movies – and when I say that I mean in your desire, want, and need – then you are a screenwriter. Stay the course. It takes ten years to have overnight success. So keep writing, and arm yourself with fortitude – it will be your Excalibur.

But now ask yourself: “Why is it that I can do nothing else but write movies?” And if you look deep enough, the answer will reach the root core of everything. You need to write movies because, simply put, YOU LOVE THE MOVIES.

Going to the movies – in so many ways – is your spiritual center. It’s not just the visual cinematic medium you love. It’s the whole package: the popcorn, the soda, the seats, the audience, the lights dimming, the previews… the entire communal experience. And you can remember times – maybe as a kid or even just last week – where the clarity of that movie experience reinforces why you do it. Why you write that screenplay, and the next one, and the next one after that.

It’s true you may never be a financial success as a Hollywood screenwriter, but if you have the insight as to why you write, then you’ve already won.