Ever since Jon Smith and his HopLite Entertainment group put The Sixth Man: A 17,175-Word Novella About Creation and Prizefighting on their upcoming project list – working title for the film is “Third Man” – I have become very interested in film development and all of the complexities and challenges that surround it.
I have also learned that patience is necessary in this industry.
Last fall, I subscribed to the American Film Market. Founded in 1981, the American Film Market (AFM) has become the premiere global marketplace where Hollywood’s decision-makers and trendsetters all gather every year in November under one roof in Santa Monica, California.
Last week, AFM offered its subscribers a complementary PDF download of The Business of Show Business for Creatives: Film Business Essentials for Getting Your Film to Market edited by Anne Marie Gillen. I took advantage of the offer and have been reading it with great interest. Once again, I am humbled in how little I know, but grateful that I have access to Ms. Gillen’s take on the industry.
I have been writing novels for a dozen years and have been tutored, advised and mentored by some incredible minds. That said, I read something in Ms. Gillen’s book this morning that is the best creative litmus test I have ever crossed paths with, and I know it can be valuable in other industries as well. Ms. Gillen writes,
“When I was COO of Morgan Freeman’s production company, Revelations Entertainment, I came up with the 7 Year Question to be sure we were ready to take on this phase of every project:
• If it took us 7 years to get this film made, would we be happy we took on the project?
• If we spent 7 years trying to get this film made and didn’t, would we be happy with having taken the journey?
If you can answer a resounding “Yes” to both those questions, then go for it, for the VISIONARY in you is ready to take it on.“
Over the last dozen years, I have produced four novels, one novella and a West Point football trivia book. That’s a book every two years. I began my current project in May 2012. While I think the end may be in sight, after reading Ms. Gillen’s “7-Year Question,” I’ve decided that I am willing to take five more years if I have to, if that is what I need to invest to complete the project. Further, if at the end of seven years the project doesn’t pan out, I will have no qualms and will be more than satisfied that I took the journey.
After pondering the “7-Year Question,” I have determined that I am not on a deadline to get the manuscript finished …. I’m on a deadline to finish it RIGHT. It will be done when it is done.
As a creative person, I’m convinced this is a good rule of thumb. But even in other industries, the “7-Year Question” is a good question to ask yourself, your associates and even your company. The answer clearly and unequivocally demonstrates a person’s or group’s commitment to the task at hand.