SUMMER READING

By: Jess Canty


This week I was back at UCLA for their annual Screenwriting Showcase as I had participated this year as a judge. It has been a while since I was back at the Theater, Film and TV School and as many of you know I have my complaints about how TFT often willfully ignores the business side of making theater, film and TV.


I have come to believe it is a branding thing - a way to set themselves apart from USC - which is known for its alumni network and is all about the business. Where I come down to on this point is that if only UCLA would be upfront about the fact that there IS a business, and in order to survive it in you need to understand that it exists. I wish they would just say "we are going to teach you to be an artist because you have to be an artist first - and learning the business is easier than learning to be an artist, so we're gonna do that."


Because that is the other thing I realized being back in a school devoted to developing artists. That the school believes that you can actually learn to be one. You don't have to be born with some strange spark of genius/madness - you can re-frame your mindset about the world around you and learn what it is to walk through life as an artist.


The professor who opened the evening spoke about how she came to writing. How it was a long road, and one with a number of people who made her feel that she shouldn't express herself. She told a beautiful story about her journey into her own artistic life.


The woman who received their honorary award this year, Linda Woolverton, has been writing for Disney since Beauty and the Beast - which she wrote. She spoke about how she was determined to change the very notion of a "Disney Princess" from the inside - by having Belle be a reader of books rather than a baker of cakes. Artistic revolution from the inside - pretty damn cool.


And the professor who closed the night was a sort of artistic cheerleader-coach, imploring all of the writers there to go out in the world and create.


It was fun to be in an environment again where for just a moment the concerns of commercialism or making a living from your art were not discussed.


The breakdowns have slowed to an annoying trickle and school is finally out which means it is that time of year again: SUMMER READING.


This is the time of year we want you to get your house in order. If you need new headshots, you better be booking them now. How does your reel look? What class(es) are you going to be taking once episodic starts? How are you doing on your goals we set out together at the beginning of the year?

In addition to answering all of these questions for yourself, I thought it might be a good time to revisit the artist's journey. These books - and a couple of movies - were de rigueur for my own arts education 20 (aghhhhhhhh) years ago and I think they still hold up now. Perhaps you have read some of these, perhaps you need to re-read them - 5 or 10 years of perspective can change how you take in a book.


Letters to a Young Poet - Ranier Maria Rilke

The Artist's Way - Julia Cameron

The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint Exupery

Il Postino

Cinema Paradiso


I hope you take advantage of this downtime to re-connect with yourself as artist.

I know I will!

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