This column has been a blessing for me in so many ways. First it keeps me writing. It also keeps me focused on my not so secret Florentine mission: to make the definitive feature film about the life of the great Florentine renaissance man Filippo Brunelleschi. It’s also helped me meet some wonderful people and to share ideas about where I am in the project, what I am learning and what an experience it has been.
The Florentine is a widely read publication, both online and in the English speaking community here. Of course, it is also ready by people visiting Florence. The byproduct of this was a visit by a Hollywood couple, Marc and Elaine Zicree, writers and producers with a lot of experience, who contacted me and asked me to have dinner with them.
It was fairly early in my process and it was a great chance for me to meet a couple of Hollywood producers. How cool is that? So I graciously accepted their invitation to supper and we met in the west end of Florence at a wonderful restaurant for a meal. It was a “pinch myself” moment. I was riding my bike, through a city I love, going to meet Hollywood producers to talk about my work and a film project.
Marc and Elaine are great people. They are both writers and accomplished producers and their genre is mostly science fiction. They also manage an internet list called “the table” where actors, directors, producers, journalists and creatives of all kinds ask the group for help or advice or favors. It was started by them in LA as a way of connecting people, I have been on the list since the dinner, but I have not used it’s vast resources yet.
The dinner conversation was pleasant and I came to their table with a wide eyed openness and curiosity. I love the phase, “why not?”. I tend to use it a lot, because “why not” is about possibility and it forces us to a more positive outlook. It’s the spirit of “why not” that accepts dinner invitations or gets me out making another film. So I was there to explain what I was doing and to listen to experienced people.
What came out of the dinner was very important. Marc asked me point blank if I want to direct this film because if I do, he explained it is going to be harder. I was wishy washy in my answer and I was not answering from my heart, but more how I thought I should answer. I kind of said, “I’d like to, but I know the realities of the film business, etc”. I realize now that I was limiting myself and my abilities, but I also realized that part of this project was planning my life and career around accomplishing the task.
This was so valuable and it changed my whole perspective from being passive to being active. Yes. I am a dreamer, I try to stretch my imagination all the time, but this pragmatic real world advice was a very important nugget at a very important time. The best thing for me to do was to look at myself and my career as a project as well, and start down the path to building relationships toward the goal.
I found out in my subsequent research that Filippo had to do the same things in order to navigate the complex Florentine society to get his project approved and he used many of his experiences and relationships to get to his goal of building the Cupola.
So this dinner with wonderful people, opened up some important things about myself, and some important things about my character and story that are having an impact on the screenplay I am writing and the work I am doing.
Stars do align.
We are all part of this one big thing.