Our first workshop of the day has finished. My ride home is talking to Jeff about trying to reschedule her flight so she will be able to go on the New York City trip with us over spring break. And I am standing in a kitchen, face to face with Emmy Award winning screenwriter Adam Mazer. I ask him a couple of questions: “Did you always know you wanted to be a screenwriter?” “How did you make it all happen?” He briefly answered my questions, and then he started asking about my life. “Where do you come from?” “What are you studying?” “What do you want to do with your life?” I was in shock. This man, who is so much more successful than I am, is asking about me, and listening!
Adam Mazer likes telling stories. He likes getting to know people and making something incredible out of them. His most well-known films are You Don’t Know Jack, and Breach. Both are movies about interesting people: Jack Kevorkian and Robert Hanssen respectively. Both are incredible films, so it’s no wonder he is an award winning screen-writer. However, he wasn’t always so successful.
He told us a few stories detailing the long, gruesome process of trying to get a script made into a movie. At one point, he had pitched an idea for a film and it was nearly made into a movie, but it fell through. He was heartbroken. This was going to be his first big-time movie, and the studio dropped it on him. Adam let us know, “It doesn’t happen overnight. You have to work for it.” That seems to be a common theme in this business. You have to work for it. But if you’re passionate about it, the work doesn’t feel like work. And if you work hard enough, one day you can get there.
At one point in the day, Adam said, “We all become whoever we become.” And while I can’t remember the context he said these words in, I do know this: I may not become a writer. I may not become a journalist. Whoever I do become, though, I will be someone who is passionate about what I am doing, and I will have worked very hard to get there. Being exposed to some incredible people by the Institute for Writing and Mass Media has taught me that I can become whoever I want to become if I am willing to work hard for it and never give up. That’s a lesson a lot of people never learn, but I have learned it from some of the best of the best.