Becoming an Overnight Success – One Decade at a Time

You didn’t just hear it from me.  Becoming the latest hot new thing can take a while, decades even. But meanwhile, you can have a lot of fun along the way!

Whether you are a director, a producer, a writer or even an actor, nothing real can ever happen instantly. 

For all the stories like one short film and HBO offered him a series, or the Toronto Festival audience award jettisoned them into a three-picture deal, I can offer you a 20 years in the making of a documentary or several shelved slightly optioned screenplays or the money ran out one week into shooting.

Don’t be depressed, some things should take time and everything you do while you are waiting to be discovered is making you all the more discoverable.

As a creative person, you already know that your whole life feeds into whatever you create.  After all, we are all made up from our history and experiences, our choices and our mistakes, our foibles as well as our loves.  Filmmakers are storytellers and even when the stories we tell are not our own, how we tell them is.

We have lives full of family and friends and work and dreams and failures.  How we use all those moments to sculpt what we create is important and should be acknowledged.

What do I mean exactly?  I suppose I have been thinking lately about how different one filmmakers vision can be from another.  It’s award season soon and therefore it’s screening season and I’ve been seeing tons of films.  Films from the sublime to occasionally the ridiculous and everything in-between.  I have also seen loads of extremely valuable Q & As and what always stands out, apart from how genuine very talented actors and directors are and how humble, is that they all have stories of trials and tribulations.  Of losing roles or funding or very nearly their minds while they strive to make things happen and all of them. Every single one has no regrets about any of it.

While you are sitting about waiting for life to happen you should be taking all this glorious time and pouring it into your work.

Writing, taking classes, watching films, writing some more and always, always paying attention to life going on around you.

Whether you use that observation directly as a story or a character or you simply absorb it into the essence of your work, it’s all meaningful and important.

As this year has sped by in the blink of an eye, it’s time to look back at what we have gained from it.  What happened in 2018 that makes you better?  A better filmmaker, a better storyteller, a better artist?

I for one am grateful for the opportunity to write more.  I am grateful for every play, every visit to a museum, every film, every TV show….even the bad ones.  We can learn just as much from what we don’t like than from what we do.  I am also grateful for every book or article I read, every conversation I have had regardless of what it was about or if it got heated or not.  Debating with people, learning from them is more valuable than we give credit.  And it all feeds our creative souls, all of it.  The highs and the lows, the bad burgers and the delicious ice creams.  The rotten and the juicy.  Everything matters.  Everything gets mixed up in our big stubborn brains and hopefully ends up getting regurgitated in some brilliant way that we probably haven’t even imagined yet.

When I am at my lowest, juggling bills, wistfully eying friends holiday pictures on Instagram, generally keeping the wolves from the door, I remind myself that being an artist can be tough, but tougher still is an artist trying to be anything else.

We are fortunate.  We live in a country while being far from perfect, that is still free.  Our worries are minuscule when compare with many places in the world and we are able to write what we truly feel and make art about anything we desire. We are very fortunate, indeed.  And when our time comes, when someone hands us a check and says “go do your thing,” we need to be ready.  We need to have all of our lives up until that point in our back pockets, supporting our choices, guiding our hands and praising our will to tell our stories.  And none of that happens overnight.  All that confidence and skill takes a lifetime.

I will leave you with a few excellent movies I have seen this year that could never have happened quickly. And I am eternally thankful that they arrived at the perfect time for them.  So take the time to look around you and be grateful, to look around you and take it all in, to really look around you, to remember it all and to pour it into your work. Then write it down, grab a camera and make something!!!

Green Book

Instant Family

A Quiet Place


The Front Runner

Eighth Grade

Mind The Gap




The Favorite


Monsters and Men

Black Klansman

Ready Player One


Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros
Author: Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros is a Theatre and Food Writer and Filmmaker living in Los Angeles.