When am I Quentin Tarantino

I have used Quentin Tarantino in the title because I love his work, but I could have used any famous writer.  So what does this mean? I am sick to death of reading, hearing and seeing the stupid comment “you can do that when your [Quentin Tarantino], but you’re not”.

What they are really saying is DO NOT experiment (like Quentin Tarantino did). DO NOT try and expand your skills and art form (like Quentin Tarantino did). DO NOT try to grow (like Quentin Tarantino did).  Why, because they have hitched their wagon to formula and lies.  They believe that as long as they color inside the lines they will eventually be successful. They (the horde of writing cult members) cannot admit to themselves that it may be talent and pushing the boundaries which will lead to success.

Back to the question at the top of this rant.  Okay, if I can’t do anything new or inventive until I have reached the Tarantino zone, who will tell me when that is?  Will I get a call from Quentin himself? Surely there are some qualifications or measurements I can reach to know I am Quentin Tarantino.  We are the same height roughly I am 186cm he is 185cm, we look to be about the same weight. He has more hair, fuck it, I am already Quentin Tarantino.

Here is the real answer to that question. The answer that mediocre people and assholes that are trying to sell you a dream don’t want you to hear.  Quentin Tarantino was alway Quentin Tarantino. He didn’t reach some magical level and suddenly he was allowed to be authentic.  No, he as always been the creator that he is.

So what does that mean to you?

You can be exactly the writer you are. You can put whatever you want in your screenplays.  This will make you unique. Now here is the most important thing to understand. 

PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THIS.

Being unique means you are instantly visible. So if you are great or crap, you will be seen.  Your uniqueness will enable people to find you and assess you instantly. So you must be great. Uniqueness is a shortcut to the industry.  If you are bad, the industry will let you know.

I keep a picture of “The Scream” on my desk. I like the painting. To me, it is great art.  I saw on the news that someone paid over $150,000 for a banana taped to a wall.  They believed it was great art.  Both these things stood out because they are unique.  I think the banana art was crap. I knew it existed because it was unique and brave.  In contrast, I can go to my local gallery and see plenty of wonderful paintings, by truly talented artists. But they are boring. Because they stayed within the lines. They are not unique. They are so similar I could buy any one of them for my house, it would not matter.

This concept is scary. I understand that. When you are unique you can’t get the safe feedback.  People can’t say “this writer understands the three act structure fantastically” or “the character arc is well defined” or “the format and use of white space is perfect and to industry standard”.  They have to assess you and your story.  You are pushing them outside their comfort zone. Some of them will punish you for it.  But if you want to break orbit, you have to be unique.

So be as unique as you can. But be sure you are ready for the world to see it.

There is a saying in business “fail fast”. This allows you to course-correct and find a new path to success. It is better to find out that you are never going to be an “A List” writer early. You can channel your efforts into something that will bring you success.

Craig Griffiths

Craig Griffiths is a screenplay writer and best selling author. His books on screenwriting are available via the Books page on the website. He has written and produced several short films with his feature scripts in production. Craig has been involved in numerous podcast including Canada’s “The Bunker Project” and was the host of “Making Business and Sales Work” a top ranked podcast on iTunes for many years.

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