The Fishy Business of Show Business

I don’t even like fish.

If I’ve learned anything from playing Hollywood these past few years, it’s that the more projects you can launch out of the gate, the greater your chances that one will actually cross the finish line, but almost certainly most of them won’t. (Actually, I’ve learned a few other lessons about show business as well, but those all lead to a great deal of curse-filled ranting that I think may not be appropriate for general consumption.) Specifically, I’m referring to those projects that are not entirely within one’s grasp to get done without the assistance of those rare few entities possessing the kind of money to get great looking images up on the screen. My past short film projects were self-financed and done for very little, but the objective, of course, is to do larger and more commercial work, and for that, I need someone to write a bigger check than I can write myself.

It’s a little like playing roulette and trying to cover as many different spaces on the board as possible so your odds of hitting anything are maximized. If you’ll indulge a somewhat lengthier analogy, though, I think it’s a lot more like fishing in a lake. Fishing is all about being in the right place at the right time with the right bait. If you’re fishing with just one rod, then you’ve got a single line in the water and just one chance to catch a fish. So if you want to increase your chances of a catch, you need more lines in the water. Only, it won’t do to drop them all in the same fishing hole because you really don’t know if there are any fish in that spot or not, so you have to spread them out all around the lake, hoping that the fish are going to be gathering in at least one of those places and that they’re going to be interested in what you’ve wrapped around your hook. (Hang on, we’re not done yet, this one keeps going for bit.)

Now this is where it gets really tricky. Fishing isn’t all about throwing your line out there and hoping a fish jumps on the end of it. You’ve got to coax those fish a bit, give a little tug on the line from time to time to try and get their attention. Sometimes you’ve got to reel it in all the way and recast the line, adjusting the position or hoping you land closer to the fish this time. While you’re babysitting this one line, though, all your other poles are going unattended. If you get a nibble on a line, you need to be there to give it a tug and try and set that hook or the fish is going to move on. So while you increase your odds of catching a fish with all those lines you’ve put in the water, you also end up running all up and down the shore line managing them each time you see the end of the rod twitch. It’s exhausting to say the least.

Now I could keep running with this whole fishing analogy, drawing comparisons to getting your hook stuck, having a snarl in your line, the frustration with the one that got away, or the abject disappointment of reeling in a bottom-feeding trash fish that wasted your bait, wasted your time, and delivers nothing suitable to the table. But I think by now you get the idea.

I believe this analogy could be applied to just about any sort of creative pursuit in which one depends on a publisher, financier, producing label, or similar entity in order to accomplish a goal larger than your available resources. But how does one keep sane in this kind of maddening situation? Well, maybe this is where the analogy breaks down because I think a lot of people who regularly fish would say they do so because they enjoy the act of fishing, not because they want to eat the fish. But assuming that your primary purpose for fishing is to serve up a tasty filet to a room full of assembled guests, it’s a good idea to know where you can just buy a fish when you need it. In other words, you’ve got make sure you’re not always relying on someone else to be able to satisfy your objective; you’ve got to have a project that is wholly in your control to be able to create, execute and present without the need for that other entity to write a check.

And that’s where I’m at right now: a dozen lines in the water, running back and forth managing the rods and reels, hoping to be in the right place at the right time with the right bait and to get a solid enough nibble I can set the hook.  But in the meantime, I need to be doing something that I can get done with my own available resources. For that, I’ve got a few ideas that I’ve narrowed down to, and I’ll bounce those off you in the next week or two.

Until then, happy fishing!

 

7 thoughts on “The Fishy Business of Show Business

  1. Matt,

    You will make it no matter what you do, and whatever you do decide to set your focus on will be great. The stage that your at currently is just the beginning. Your setting the stage to land some big fish….The reason why?

    I am a firm believer in not hoping or wishing for dreams to come true. I have strong habit of willing…no, forging my dreams into reality through the fire of my will. I see that same same trait in you.

    In your case I don’t think you should be worried about if it will happen. I think you need to spend your time preparing for when it does happen. Because it will.

    No one thought I would be where I am today. But I was focused and saw what I wanted with utmost clarity and made sure I prepared the way to make it happen. I now have Patents in multiple countries, I just built a great house and married my best friend. I now also write for No Quarter and am working on a book. All on top of already working about 70hrs a week as an environmental consultant. Alot of lines can net alot of fish. Just make sure you dont get lazy or discouraged and leave the lines out there unattended.

    Seize the opportunities, set your hooks and dont wait for your dreams to happen. Force others to see your vision and make those dreams happen!

    Chris

    • Thanks, Chris! I like your style!

      Don’t get me wrong — I’m not slowing down. You’re right, this is big game fishing. It takes time. So while I’m watching all the lines, I’m also trying to do more of ‘my own thing’ so I can keep my head in the craft.

      Thanks again for the words! I’ll be looking for your work in No Quarter!

      • Thanks man I can’t wait to get a glimpse of the things your working on especially in the world of Warmachine and Hordes. I have never seen a game so well supported!

        My first No Quarter article was issue 43 and I am working on another for NQ 45.

        I hope to see more of the Judicator soon and also what you have planned for Stryker.

        Level 7 has peaked my interest in a big way as well. Keep up all the great work!

        • Oh yes! The painting article on splattering and weathering techniques. Great work on that! Can’t wait to see what you’re doing next.

          And thanks again!

  2. I only know a couple people who have delved into the Hollywood thing, and they both have remarked at how trying it can be. You truly have a spark for creating tangible worlds, I hope you are able to bring that vision to the screen if that is your desire.

    Best of luck,

    Matthew

  3. Have you thought about a kick starter? Seriously you have good ideas, you have a game company that can make merchandise to suit the film, you have a fan base. Come up with a project plan, put a starter cost on it, dangle some future merchandise goodies in front of us and see where you can get.

    You really don’t need the whole giant Hollywood thing to do a good film. They made great movies without all the big bucks decades ago and many of those early films are still better than what we have today. I believe you have good ideas. I believe you that you know how to present a product that will attract investors. I believe you can do this.

    • Chris, this is exactly one of the things I’ve been thinking about. Kickstarter is a very strange phenomenon, and though I’m a regular backer of projects, I honestly don’t have my head around it entirely. But I do love that it gives people with a vision a chance to make that vision a reality if they can show others why the vision is worthy. And this is exactly what I meant when I said that you have to be able to have a project you can take control of yourself. I agree with everything you’re saying about not needing Hollywood or the big budgets to make this stuff happen. My current #1 dream idea is to do a WARMACHINE web series — something that very likely has no interest to Hollywood studios. Whether or not I could crowd source the capital necessary to produce such a project is a different story, though, and one that carries its own inherent risk. Even though this is a ‘Matt Wilson’ project and not a ‘Privateer’ project, it puts the Privateer name at risk, should it fail. Like you said, I’m sure we could offer compelling rewards, and I’ve already got a lengthy list of them. But I also don’t want to just ‘buy’ the favor of the WARMACHINE community. In an ideal world, the community would be as excited to see this as I would be to produce it. That’s probably not actually possible, but hopefully the sentiment is clear. In any event, it’s something I’ve given a great deal of thought to and consider to research, outline, and contemplate. I’m not sure if it will be the right direction for me or not, but it’s an option and one that I want to feel out more. Like I said, this is my #1 dream project to get done. I would love nothing more than to do something film-related with WARMACHINE, but even at a small scale, it will be expensive and I’ll need a significant budget.

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