Stays in the Picture and Lady Luck
Sam North - Editorial- August 2002
Theres a moment
near the beginning of the wonderful and illuminating documentary about
Bob Evans the movie producer who made Love Story and The Godfather,
as well as countless other films, when he admits that everything came
down to good luck. A moment, a day playing hookey from work and diving
into the swimming pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel. He came out a star.
He was spotted by the actress Norma Shearer and she wanted him to play
Irving Thalberg as a young man opposite Edward G Robinson. Luckily for
Bob Evans he knew how to act, hed been something of a child star.
Not act well mind you, but something with a bit more dignity than Vin
Diesel for instance. On the other hand as an individual he was a tad reptilian.
But maybe that's what is required to survive in Hollywood.
course he played his luck right down to the wire. He made some turkeys
along the way Finnians Rainbow among them, but Rosemarys
Baby was the winner and launched Roman Polanski on the USA. He became
head of Paramount, won them Oscars and made them Number One on the
Hollywood lots. He married the movie star Ali McGraw and well, he
had it good.
Then came Cotton Club.
Legal battles with Francis Ford Coppola and serious miscasting with Richard
Bob Evans luck ran out and he let it get to him, as well as the cocaine.
Luck is one of those things that happen to almost everyone, at least once.
The importance of The Kid stays in the Picture produced by
Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen is that you can see what you can do
with it when equipped with self-confidence and some talent. You dont
have to be a genius, you dont have to be good at everything, you
dont actually have to be good at ANYTHING, but when luck calls,
youd better know someone who is good at something because thats
the day youre going to need em.
Luck doesnt do anything. Luck just taps on the head and says Today
youve got 24 hours or five minutes, or whatever. It could be the
name of a horse that will win a big race. Yes really. That happened to
me and you know what, I still kick myself for only putting £50 quid
on it. It won by miles and never won again. Luck said heres your chance
and I blew it.
Luck can happen in many ways. A call, can you help? Someone has let me
down; do you know anyone who can help? What you going to do, say no?
This is luck. It gives you a chance to help someone and if it helps you,
then thats luck. It happened to me with a BBC TV show once
a writer didnt deliver and I was given a day to come up with a treatment
and a week for a 50 minute episode. You think I said no, Im busy,
its Christmas? I worked flat out. Got a nice cheque.
Luck called on a friend of mine. Gave a lift to a man whose old Ford had
broken down. Took him all the ways home in the opposite direction because
he was broke and well he was a nice old guy who seemed a bit bewildered.
Five years later the old boy left him $50,000 in his will. Remember luck
always gives a chance to say no.
Of course, as Bob Evans will tell you, if you live by luck, you have to
accept his twin brother bad luck as well. Not just Cotton
Club, but cocaine busts when you grow over-confident and sometimes just
plain misjudgement. Witness he made Sliver which grossed millions
but also remade Out of Towners which went nowhere. Nevertheless,
as long as you realise that for every piece of bad luck, youll be
due some good luck, however small-youll survive.
Now youre saying, all this is superstitious nonsense and hey, you
might be right. But I come from a family that lives for luck and signs,
and takes it all pretty seriously. My mother and two sisters are obsessed
with luck. However I do believe that we have to make our own
luck. By that I mean if you want be a famous actor, writer, artist, then
you had better learn your craft. You might get lucky, like Bob Evans and
get to star in a movie first time out, but even he realised that he was
a terrible actor and he had better get another way to earn a living pretty
fast. Being good at what you do enables you to appreciate and use luck
when it comes. Otherwise youll be like that awkward fifteen-year-old
kid who gets asked out by the prettiest girl in school and takes so long
to stammer a reply shes changed her mind.
(Actually I once spent an entire summer in Sandilands wanting to talk
to a particular girl but too shy to and on the day she was going I found
out she had spent the entire summer wishing she had the courage to talk
to me so I know exactly what it feels like stupid.)
Right now you might be in a job you hate and yet havent actually
sent your CV out to other people. Its OK to let other people know
that you feel trapped and unfulfilled in your current job and desperate
to show what you can really do. What are they going to do? Hire someone
wholl hate the job? Make luck happen, tell them what youd
like to do. Find out something about the company first; let them know
you appreciate what they do and how youll fit in.
You may not have a job at all and worse, like me, on the wrong end of
the age curve that gives employers an excuse to say no. Well, create a
job. What can you do? Teach? Fix stuff? Help people? What are you really
good at? Dont tell me the answer is nothing. Its takes a lifetime
of utter stupidity to become good at nothing. We can all do something,
even if its helping a friend out painting their basement.
"You know Frank needs his basement painting too, how much would you
charge? Thats luck talking.
I want to apologise for writing this upbeat editorial. I cant think
what came over me. Most unlike me, but Ive been trying to persuade
a close friend that is OK to change course, even at 29. We all change
course at sometime in our lives, by choice or sometimes it is forced upon
us. Its healthy to change, even if you are comfortable and unchallenged
in what you currently do. You may not know it but you may actually be
bored as well. Find the route that is closer to your heart. Luck will
find you there. I promise.
Nurse, feel my pulse, Im still feeling optimistic
IN GLASS HOUSES
the new Museum of Glass in Tacoma
Sweats in a Cold Read at the Anza Club
The 24 Hour Film Contest
Contact Kryshan Randel Producer
© Sam North
August 2002 - Managing Editor
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