The first thing my professor asked me in the first film class I took in college was: "Which actress would play you in a movie about yourself?"
That's the hardest question in the world. It's difficult even without taking into consideration who would be disqualified based on eating disorders, drug rehabilitation unavailability and recent Church of Scientology affiliation.
But it's a good question.
How many times do we wish our lives were like movies? Or at least a screenplay we could write with a $1 billion budget?
The most enticing part would be the soundtrack. Isn't that what iPods were designed for? If we had "Eye of the Tiger" playing when we went grocery shopping, maybe it wouldn't take so long. And a montage would be a great way to get in shape. It worked for Rocky Balboa.
I would want my movie to contain all the imagination of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" with the humor of "Chappelle's Show," the style and wit of "Sex and the City," the empathy of "Reality Bites," the randomness of "Garden State" and the love story of "True Romance."
Of all the artistic disciplines there are to choose from, I was always drawn to screen writing because it is the only medium that appeals to the audio and visual senses with infinite possibilities. You can build your own world out of words (and special effects, of course).
So I earned my bachelor's of science in four years and then enrolled in another semester to start studying film. But writing screenplays is perhaps the most daunting task to undertake.
People might think it's crazy to spend that much time on something without any sort of guaranteed return (my parents did). But apparently there are more people than you can imagine who are willing to try, and Hollywood has got to be the most exclusive society to breach.
I met Dori Weiss after writing three complete screenplays and starting 100 others. She is an ex-Hollywood studio executive and producer who lives and teaches in Steamboat Springs. I was more intimidated by her than a blank white page because she had the power to open or close that metaphorical door to Hollywood, and she had the expertise to teach me in a way that could be unforgiving.
And that's exactly what I needed.
Many aspiring screenwriters never finish their screenplays because if you complete the project, then it has the potential to fail. And the odds are already stacked against us.
You have only between one and 10 pages to engage some faceless reader before your years of hard work get thrown into the recycle bin. And Weiss said that you have to have at least three completed screenplays before you can even attempt to sell one. That could take forever with a busy work, social, recreational and canine guardianship schedule.
My last night in Las Vegas - 10 minutes before I had to run off into the night to catch a plane - I met a handsome stranger who told me he was a screenwriter.
Of course, this type of chance encounter can amount to nothing except a great beginning to a movie. So I e-mailed him an indecent proposal. I asked whether, instead of corresponding until our mutual interest fizzled out, we could e-mail one another one scene at a time detailing what would happen if our 10-minute romance continued on the silver screen.
He agreed, so stay tuned.