I arrived in Los Angeles about four years ago. I was two years post-film school with two worthy scripts under my belt, and my wife and I moved here to chase “the Hollywood dream.” Four years later it’s still that – a dream. After a dozen reads, one meeting and a whole lot of dead leads, my dream is on life support. There has been disappointment and a lot of sleeping.
Based on my experiences to date, I believe this is true:
3% of Los Angeles works in the business. The other 97% has a screenplay.
At Ecclesia, it’s encouraging to be around other artists in the struggle. Recently I polled our community group and asked which of us are doing EXACTLY what we had envisioned when we moved to LA.
Two of ten people raised their hands.
One of them is a visualization developer, the other is my lovely wife – who’s a marketing manager and moved here with her job. If you polled non-native Los Angeles citizens in groups of 10, I doubt you’d find that high of a ratio. Not to sound boastful, but a 20% success rate probably makes our community group an outlier. An extreme outlier.
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9
No matter how many times I hear this and know its truth, deep down there’s part of me that wants to believe that the Lord will somehow establish my steps within MY path.
It is the height of foolishness. And yet I think it’s absolutely instinctive to the flesh nature. When speaking about the descent of the Holy Spirit and the flesh struggle of the disciples, I think Charles Stanley sums it up well: “You and I cannot live the Christian life in our own strength. We have no more assurances that we can live this life and carry out the Lord’s work than the disciples did. The only way to deal with our flesh is by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Pastor Jon said a few weeks ago “God is more concerned with your character than your comfort. He wants you holy more than he wants you happy.”
On the topic of character development, my natural application is my writing process. So if you’ll indulge me a moment…
I like to write character-driven stories of a compact, gritty feel set in an interesting niche of life. My characters typically face hopeless odds that, by some divine intervention or unknown resourcefulness or inner strength, find a way to overcome or find meaning. Recently, I was using one of my preferred character development resources, The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler, and I rediscovered a passage that gave me a sense of added flexibility: “The role or mask of the mentor character may be worn by different characters at different points in the story, and may even be represented by the Hero’s personal code or a prop that guides the Hero.”
A thought crossed my mind: Once we know Jesus, His is the mask we should always strive to wear.
Masks are often typecast for criminals and unnerving rituals, so I know that sounds weird.
But going through the struggle – be it creative, parenting, financial, faith or just LIFE in general (i.e. ALL of them) – has a way of honing our character. Though it sometimes feels like a chisel, if we lean into it and let him use our pain to mold us, going through that struggle will ensure that we fit into His mask someday. And, by the grace of God, people will see Christ through our character.