Life is a dream.
January 20, 2012 12:18 PM   Subscribe

Hollywood dream of filmmaker Nicholas McCarthy is stop and go. 'His 11-minute thriller had just played Sundance. He had hoped the premiere would launch — after many failed attempts — his dream of making it. He was offered one meeting on which all his hopes rested.' 'This might be his last chance. He was 40, with a wife and baby. Like countless dreamers, he'd existed on the outskirts of Hollywood, fending off debt and doubt, staying afloat with low-wage jobs, diligently writing screenplays and making short films, hoping to hold on long enough to catch a break.'

'Each day, he drove to a little cafe in Atwater Village and spent hours there, typing, thinking, scribbling out plots, surrounded by actors and filmmakers chasing the same elusive prize.

The odds were daunting. All he had to do was look around to be reminded of Hollywood's addicting allure.

At the cafe, a few had achieved success enough to make a good living. But most were grinding away like he was, lonely among the crowd.

He and his wife had talked about when he would give up.'

'As he had for years, McCarthy holed up month after month at a pair of local cafes, tuning out distractions, working on scripts. He approached it as if he were a professional. But was he? Since college, the entirety of his film work hadn't netted him more than $30,000. He still couldn't get a bigger project off the ground.

Depressed and unsure, he sat in his apartment for days, watching classic movies to inspire himself again.

"I know you've heard it all before, but I have to try one more," he told his wife. "Please let me put it on the credit card and make this movie."'
posted by VikingSword (7 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This is pretty much half the people I know. The other half have careers and are working in Hollywood. They are not happy either.
posted by cazoo at 12:27 PM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Great story. Reminds me of Act 2 from this episode of This American Life - man goes into debt and depression trying to make his own talk show. Both show the fine line between tenacity and denial.
posted by cubby at 12:33 PM on January 20, 2012

This was the key to the story for me:

"I was an aspiring filmmaker," he said. "But I started to see how aspiring to be something was a way to not really try. If you did that and you failed, well, you didn't really fail. I needed to start making things, even if they weren't great, just making things."

I know too many people who are stuck where he was, dreaming and thinking and even writing, but not doing or making. Sometimes I think it's a way to not fail, to avoid the pain that failure brings. And let's be clear, he didn't decide to make things and then things went somewhere right away-- based on the timeline of the story this was probably 8 years ago.
posted by cell divide at 12:47 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yikes. It's like reading John Fante except without the knowledge that he does, in fact, eventually make it*. Or that kid in Hunger; pack it in already whydoncha and get a real job. The stress of watching you fail is killing me.

My idea for a reality TV show involves following the bottom half dozen guys on the PGA Tour as they scramble to earn enough to buy their way to the next tournament.

Imagine it. On the one side of the tour, you have Tiger standing over the putter with a tournament trophy and a couple million bucks on the line. How does he stand the pressure?

Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Joe Golfer stood over his putter, no trophy anywhere in view and quite a bit less than a million dollars at stake. If he makes it, maybe he qualifies for the next tournament. If he doesn't, maybe he loses his tour card -- and his dream -- altogether. How does he stand that kind of pressure?

*And then lose it and then make it again, posthumously.
posted by notyou at 1:18 PM on January 20, 2012

Notyou...I would totally watch that show, except only if you did it for tennis.
posted by spicynuts at 1:21 PM on January 20, 2012

Yep, this is a great example of what living in L.A. Is like. You're either spending all day sitting in a coffee shop working n your novel/screenplay/whatever, or else you're the kind of person who can't get a seat at a coffee shop because of all the folks hanging out there all day working on their novel/screenplay/whatever.
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:41 PM on January 20, 2012

Hmm, yeah, women's tennis is probably the way to go with it.

Same drama, better legs.

And more grunts.
posted by notyou at 1:42 PM on January 20, 2012

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