Saturday, January 3, 2009

High Resolution

According to About.Com, the top ten New Year’s resolutions made by the citizens of Pittsburgh, PA were as follows: (1) Spend More Time with Family & Friends (2) Get Fit (3) Lose Weight (4) Quit Smoking (5) Enjoy Life More (6) Quit Drinking (7) Get Out of Debt (8) Learn Something New (9) Help Others (10) Get Organized. Hmm. Those aren't bad as resolutions go, but much like Pittsburgh itself, they feel a little bland. Or maybe it's just me. Here in Hollywood, we never stop working on ourselves. L.A. is the land of unfulfilled dreams, so our citizens have lots of psychic space to fill with far-reaching self-improvement schemes. There is always some patch of higher ground that (if we can just achieve it) will surely deliver a little more of the love, money and recognition we so richly deserve. I’ve never understood why tossing out last year’s calendar is everybody’s cue to attempt some hair-raising, behavioral U-Turn. But it is.

Last week, I did a little informal survey among my friends in the creative community and was surprised to hear some of their resolutions for the New Year. One friend has decided to become less critical. Another wants to be less shy in social situations. A producer friend is determined to clear her life of all negativity (which I assume means she will soon be leaving the producing business). An actor friend of mine sent me a three-page document so crammed full of spiritual and artistic declarations it made me tired just reading it. Several of my friends said they only had one goal in mind for the New Year: To land a fucking job (any job!)

Personally, I’m not against altering my behavior. I’m a fan of change. Good thing too. 2008 (as you may have read in this blog) was a seriously challenging year for me. Change was sort of forced on me like a prison gang rape. My horizons got broadened to the point that I wound up with stretch marks. For most of us, resolutions are heartfelt, deeply personal attempts to shovel out some area of our life that got buried by an avalanche of neglect. Nothing feels better than to declare that finally, this year, for sure, we are going to attack that slag heap of resistance. Feels good, doesn’t it? And it always seems so simple at first. Then arrives the nasty problem of keeping those resolutions.

According to, there are five concepts that will help you stay on course: (1) Aim Low (2) Don’t Overload Yourself (3) Tell Everyone You Know (4) Reward Yourself. And my personal favorite: (5) Wait Until Spring. Although they are all good ideas, I suspect the most effective one is probably (3). With that in mind, I am courageously putting my five New Year’s resolutions out there in the hope that you, my readers, can help me stick to at least some of them in 2009. Here goes:

(1) Become less political and more humanitarian. As much as I’ve enjoyed marching around with a cleverly-worded picket sign in my hand, it has occurred to me that there are some other pressing needs in the world. To this end, I just signed up to plant a few saplings with Tree People next week. There’s also a literacy program that has been calling my name for a while now.

(2) Like many paid Hollywood professionals, New Media (or “Now” Media as some smug jerks like to call it) totally scares the shit out of me. Mostly because although it invites a whole new school of creative thought, it is also utterly lacking in any sort of structure to compensate creators of that all-important “content.” It is, however, our collective future, so here goes. It’s time to just get out there make something. Nothing works in show business (or life) like “doing it.”

(3) Okay, this is a big one for me… I’m going to start reading the trades again. I hate reading them and haven’t done so in years. Why? Because they depress the shit out of me. It’s like I’m reading about a fabulous party I wasn’t invited to. My friend Don (who feels similarly) thinks a better name for “Variety” would be “People Who Are Doing Better Than Me.” The level of resentment I feel toward the trades is so virulent that it’s a clear signal there’s something here I need to address. So this will be the year I will get to the bottom of it.

(4) This is another big one: To stop waiting for the “right time” to do something. This whole “right time” theory has been disproven so many times, I can’t believe I still cling to it. In 2005, I arrived back in L.A. having just had my ass handed to me. I didn’t have the luxury of saying no to anything. I just scrambled around like a madman with no game plan other than trying to pay rent and dodge oncoming bullets. It turned out to be one of most extraordinarily fulfilling years of my life (artistically and personally). Funny how quickly I forgot that lesson.

(5) Truthfully, I’ve known for a while now that I need a hobby (other than dating alcoholics). Alcoholics and I seem to have some kind of natural GPS that allows us to find each other no matter how dense the fog or large the dance floor. I’m not saying there haven’t been some fun moments, but I’m thinking that maybe this is the year to finally buy that sketch pad, start a poker night or maybe take up archery (which might come in handy should I need to defend myself from an approaching alcoholic).

Whatever your game plan is for the New Year, I’d like to wish you well with it. If you’ll allow me, there are a couple of pearls of wisdom, I’d like to offer from my own experience. Thinking about writing is not writing. Neither is talking about it. Be willing to make lateral moves. Don’t fixate. If you are not a commercial talent, then don’t try to be one. March to your own drummer. In fact, march proudly, nakedly down Main Street with everything showing. Make an impression. In 1989, I auditioned for a TV show on one of the hardest days of my (then young) life. All I wanted was to act with integrity and I thought I did well, even though I didn’t get the job. Seventeen years (and two careers) later, I was standing in a buffet line on the Universal lot when a casting director (who I didn’t recognize) approached me and said that he had been an apprentice in 1989 and still remembered me from that audition. He promised that he would call me in for a show he was casting and he did. I don’t offer that story to suggest that I’m so brilliant or unforgettable. I offer it because I believe when we act, or write, or design, or direct with integrity, it doesn’t just evaporate. It eventually pays off. Have a great week, Hollywood. Hope the New Year brings you tons of great new ideas and a few good ways to execute them.

Copyright 2008 Quitcher-Bitchyn Entertainment, Inc.

David Dean Bottrell is an actor (“Boston Legal”) and screenwriter (“Kingdom Come”) who writes a weekly blog about being strangely middle-class in Hollywood at

1 comment:

David August said...

Very nice. Now my ind is processing. Thank you.