Posted by: michellemuldoon | September 1, 2010

Mentors

If I’m going to start a blog, then I thought, why don’t I start at the very beginning. No, I’m not going to give you a historical analysis of the word “Mentor”, but I do want to talk about it, and most importantly, who in my life,  exemplifies the word.

I think I’ve been incredibly lucky in my young screenwriting and filmmaking career.  I have two people in my life I consider mentors, even if they don’t know it. ( I think they might know, now.) These are two people I admire, trust and learn from every time I speak with them. I want to take the time to share with you why people this good, this special, are a gift that should never be taken for granted.

If I’m going to start with anything, it’s screenwriting. Without screenwriting there would be no filmmaking. Without Pilar Alessandra, I could never ever call myself a screenwriter. And in my mind, that makes her my mentor.

 The real jump for me in quality and understanding of the craft starts and ends with Pilar Alessandra at On The Page Script Consulting and Screenwriting classes. I took my first class with Pilar in 2007 and there was no turning back. She inspires me, challenges me, and motivates me to be a better writer every time I touch a keyboard. It’s her support, honest and clear instruction, and belief in keeping it simple that works for me. I’ve always said, find someone who speaks in a way that resonates with you, and learn from them. For me that person is Pilar. Striving for success is as much about making her as proud of me, the student, as I am of having her as my mentor.

So, how has our relationship worked?  I pass every first draft through Pilar’s critical assessment process. I find it helps me to organize myself for what is arguably the first and largest rewrite of the screenplay’s development. I trust her, and she’s never let me down.  Working with her might be the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

Pilar recently published her first book on screenwriting. The Coffee Break Screenwriter is filled with effective exercises that help to demystify the process.  And I’ve got to admit, I even get a mention in it. I’m so tickled that I would be included in the company of other successful writers she works with, that honestly, I could burst. (Check out the Biz Books link and get your own copy, will ya?)

So, Pilar gets me on the screenwriting train and it’s full steam ahead. The first, and most important stop, is The Action On Film (AOF) International Film Festival run by, and created by, Del Weston.  I think you could probably fill a theatre with the amount of people who look up to Del.  He is a friend, a resource and a mentor to pretty much everyone who passes through his festival’s doors. 

It was at AOF that I won my very first screenplay award. Darkness Knows The Night, my female Bond script, won Best Drama in 2008. Seriously, people, I was in shock! Only one year after meeting Pilar, the dividends were paying off. I couldn’t believe it.

But, it wasn’t the award that makes Del a mentor. No, it was something so much more. It was that look of sheer joy at seeing others succeed, and his unassuming way of saying, “What are you looking so surprised for?” that draws you in. Then comes the next line; so nonchalant, so unassuming in its delivery,  “Why don’t you make a film, next?”

Del makes everything seem so attainable. He encourages you in a way that makes the world seem like a simple place filled with the art of the possible, and then leads you to the point where the possible, becomes the probable. Without Del’s gentle encouragement, there would be no Potluck , and no Pocket of Heaven. There would be no job on Small Days, and no IMDB listing.  He is the man I go to, when things seem difficult, because in the eyes of Del Weston, every solution is simple.

While I might have been lucky to have a strong work ethic instilled in me through sport, who I am in my film career is due to the influences of my mentors; people who, without realizing it, have become the people I trust to show me the way in this confusing industry. I ask you to consider who your mentors are.  Where would you be in your journey without them?  I’ve said my thank you’s, I hope you’ve said yours…

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Responses

  1. George Bailey moment? 😉


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