Monday, 24 January 2011

500 More Words on Risk and Failure

A recent text conversation with Seth Worley:

Seth: FYI. Nic Cage is currently being sued out the wazoo by people he’s in debt with. Been going on for a while. Might want to amend your blog.

Seth: That’s why he’s in everything you see lately.

Me: I know that. Why should I amend it?

Me: The point was that he continually faces risk and failure and continues to work, no matter what the circumstances.

Seth: Yeah, but not because he’s passionate. You don’t have to amend it. I just thought it was funny that you were like “he takes a job that he thinks is cool and does it. Or maybe he lost big in Vegas and has no other choice.” When the truth is he has no other choice.

Me: But he made bad choices before he had no choice.

Seth: Okay. Yes. That’s how he got there.

Me: Haha. Yes. Bt I meant he made bad acting choices.

Seth: So did I read your post wrong? I thought you used him as an example of noble failure.

Me: Not so much noble failure as continuing to risk and persevere through failure…

Among the things that Seth and I talk about (dinosaurs, absurd and pointless action sequences) is this subject of risk and failure.

Nic Cage is a terrible example of someone taking risks, because he is doing it for the money. He has to. But still, there must be a small voice in the back of his head that says, “if you keep doing this crap the only thing you’ll be able to land is syfy originals.” I think we can all agree he’s risking career suicide with schlock like “Season of the Witch” and “Drive Angry.”

Seth and I were talking the other day about risk. We were lamenting the fact that we work in a place where we’re not allowed to fail, and it causes us to take less chances. That was the afternoon before Shanley lecture. Mr. Shanley told us he’s currently developing a pilot with HBO about a Brooklyn District Attorney. He told us HBO was excited about it, talking about the courtroom scenes.

“No courtroom scenes.” Shanley said. “He never goes to court.”
HBO: Okay. Well, the office then.
Shanley: No. He hates the office. He never goes to the office.

A show about a DA that doesn’t go to court and doesn’t go to the office. HBO signed off. Shanley’s working on the script right now.

I realized my problem isn’t that I’m not allowed to fail. (Sidenote: I am allowed to fail at work. I’ve sent stuff to camp that BOMBED.) The problem is I don’t risk enough.

Doug Hall wrote this book about brainstorming. In it he talks about baseball and home runs. He says the best home run hitters strike out eleven times for every home run they hit. Eleven failures for every success.

So I guess the question is: what does that kind of risk look like?

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