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The Fine Line (between persistence and stalking)

Those of you who’ve been following this blog for a while now know that I write in a few different genres. I’ve written non-fiction books for youth on Canada’s Prime Ministers; I’m a published poet, and I’m a magazine features writer.

A little over a year ago, I started on the roller-coaster ride of my life: my journey into the world of screenwriting. I’d soon discover that writing the script wasn’t the hard part. Sure, I’ll tell you a bit about that process–but that’s not the story here. The true blood, sweat, and tears this past year have come from trying to get someone–anyone in the industry–to read it, comment on it, and give me a hand perfecting it and selling it. I’ve also been searching for an agent and working on another script so that I have a body of work to show someone when they finally agree to read my first script.

About six months into my efforts, I managed to get in touch with an agent who booked talent–mainly writers and actors–for Broadway productions. He told me that, while he had enjoyed reading my script and was very much willing to help me as best he could by offering advice, he didn’t really have any ‘in’s” in the Hollywood film industry. He was, however, one of the first people to engage in a dialogue with me about the industry and about what I was up against, and he was also incredibly helpful in getting my script into the hands of a well-known Canadian actor-director. This actor had his own American TV series some years ago and is now directing films–we’ll call him Mr. Canadian Actor. Mr. Canadian Actor scribbled some great input into the margins of my script–really incredible stuff including critique, questions, and suggestions for scene direction, which I incorporated into a new draft. He then accidentally left my script on a seat in Arrivals at the Vancouver airport. But that’s another tale, to be told at another time.

After a few friendly emails from–let’s call him Mr. Broadway–I had the instinct that he could probably give me some perspective on what should be my next move with a well-known screenwriter-producer I’d been interacting with online–we’ll call him Mr. Screenwriter. Mr. Screenwriter had offered to read my script and eventually sent my script to a big U.S. agency. Being the polite Canadian I am, I kept wondering if “thank you” was adequate. Some people had told me I should make some grand gesture. I’d already said thank-you enough times and in enough ways; I felt that I was starting to sound like a bit of an idiot. I didn’t feel doing any more would be appropriate–since when does thank-you not genuinely mean thank-you?

There are a few things I’m not willing to do in this journey, and one of them is ass-kiss, and the other is name-drop (hence the use of Mr. Names. I’d like to get to the Mrs. Names, but sadly, there are so very few Mrs. High-Up’s in the industry. That’s another whole chapter. I’ll get there). So I wrote Mr. Broadway and asked him if he thought sending a gift to Mr. Screenwriter was a good idea or very, very bad idea (my instinct).

He e-mailed back this note: “There’s a fine line between persistence and stalking.”

I burst out laughing. I was so loud, in fact, my five-year-old came running into my office, asking, “What, Mommy? What’s so funny?” It was then that I realized I had a story here. The story of little, 5’2″ me, just a girl from the Ottawa Valley, trying to break into Big Bad Hollywood as a writer.

This is that story. I’m not sure if it’s a book or a script or just a bunch of fun blog posts. Stay tuned to find out!

Chapter 1: The Fine Line: “Do What You Want”

**So far, there are SIX posts in this series. Read them all here–in order, from the post at the bottom to the post at the top:

The Fine Line series by Heather Grace Stewart

20 thoughts on “The Fine Line (between persistence and stalking)

  1. Heather, this was hilarious. I laughed, and then offered sympathy, from start to finish. Persistence is a good thing – and I admire it. Perhaps I’m even inspired to persist in some of my endeavours just a little more ‘persistently’! Thanks. And – see you at the Oscars!

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    1. “I laughed, and then offered sympathy, from start to finish.”

      Aw, Ceci, thanks so much. It’s a great story–thanks for following and stay tuned for
      the next installment! As for the Oscars–I always say never say never, but I’m trying
      to remember that it’s the (persistent yet not-stalking) journey, not the destination,
      and also, that I shouldn’t pull my hair out because I spend a lot of money on my hair. 😉

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  2. The other crucial difference between stalking and persistence is that the person who is persistent possesses talent and simply wants to share that talent in a very bad way. A stalker lacks talent or any other notable traits, which is why they fixate on famous people, so as to try and steal some of their radiance.

    Wise Nate, to Persistent Heath

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  3. Hey hon! I have an old friend who recently had an indie film made, and some other friends who are working the indie side of the entertainment industry. I don’t know if any of that’s relevant to you, but I can certainly ask around for you if you want (you’ll have to let me know). I’m looking forward to your screenwriting adventure blogathon 🙂

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  4. Hi Heather – thanks for the visit… that poem you read was just some silly thing mucking about with rhyme and wordplay (I’m sure you know the thing)…

    Try a couple of posts back for my PotLuck entries… hey great to meet ya… like yr style too, y’know?

    Warmest Salad

    Luke

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  5. Yay! Go you!!!

    You can always mention Mr Screenwriter in your Oscar speech. But only after you’ve mentioned the rest of us, who will be there jumping up and down and screaming.

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    1. Could you feel me perspiring from way across the ocean? I’ve been living this story in my head for over a year–it’s slightly scary to actually put it down on paper–makes it even more unbelievable to me, actually. No code names for you guys–you shall always remain The Undeletables! Thanks so much for reading Maureen.

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      1. I think you’ll have trouble keeping us away from your premier. You know it’s gonna have to be in NY and I WILL be there!

        Did you get the link I emailed you the other day?

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      2. It’s wonderful to have someone else who believes in this like I do! There are a few. Just when I want to give up; just when I’ve hit another dead end; something else happens to make me keep on keepin’ on. Blogging about it should be cathartic. Did I spell that write? Ah well I know for a fact that most Great screenwriters cannot spell or use proper punctuation. 😉

        Yes I got the link, thanks so much–sorry I didn’t reply– my inbox is overflowing with lovely people looking for me!

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      3. We certainly do believe. And we’re going to cheer you on at every opportunity.

        Actually, I’d rather you won a BAFTA than an Oscar, as I have a family connection. My dad’s cousin’s wife designed the BAFTA award!

        Just checking I’d got the right email address. I think you’ll enjoy it.

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      4. I don’t have exact stats, but there are something like 500 feature films made in the US every year, and
        an agent recently told me on the phone that there were 30 feature films made in Canada last year. It’s
        a long shot–but I have to keep on trying. I’d regret it if I didn’t. So please go ahead and share this
        on Twitter and anywhere else you blog, in case there’s some lonely agent/ manager/ Hugh Jackman
        look-alike out there who feels like reading my blog, and I’ll do my best to win you that BAFTA, but you need to give
        me till I’m 100.;)

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      5. We make films here in UKania, too! You could always come over here. Or you could do what David Hewlett did and make it yourself. Although it helps if you have the cast and crew of a major TV show willing to work on the promise of payment when it makes a profit. I’ll even volunteer to be the Production Accountant!

        I only managed to see 47 of those films last year and I’m up to 32 so far this year.

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  6. Heather you are so funny, I love the use of Mr Names…I have laughed all the way through this.
    You’re taller than me my friend….I’m only 4ft 10….I know really small.
    “There’s a fine line between persistence and stalking.” That’s just classic..love it. xx
    I look forward to hearing the next part of this story.
    Love you loads
    Lisa. x

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