Guillermo Del Toro On Failing Better

by Jason Hellerman on January 2, 2015

There is nothing more exciting for a screenwriter than typing FADE OUT.


It means you've finished a draft and can therefore get that donut you promised yourself (or the whole dozen), and jump for joy, take a break, or maybe even a nap!

But the next day you have to dive back in. The rewrite and subsequent rewrites can be crippling to both ego and hope. In a recent interview with BAFTA Guru, Guillermo Del Toro--director of blockbusters (Pacific Rim), B-movie horror (Mimic) and foreign language award-winners (Pan's Labyrinth)--offered specific insights into the development process.

One of the most poignant points he makes in the interview: "I haven’t developed a thick skin yet. Rejection still hurts and it's still very hard to take those knocks." Del Toro keeps going, elaborating that he has over a dozen scripts, some with storyboards and ideas mapped out, that will never see the light of day.

The biggest setbacks of his career were with film Mimic and the cancellation of At The Mountains Of Madness, an idea Del Toro worked on for eight years. Both gut punches took a toll on the director that resulted in five-year gaps in making new films.

The seemingly obvious lesson here is that when you fail or experience failure, you have to more forward. Keep creating and pounding the pavement. Do what it takes to get the next thing made, get the next thing written. It's all about perseverance and challenging yourself.

Keep this in mind after you rewrite. The democratization of film in the past fifteen years allowed everyone with a camera to make movies. Now, with the rise in streaming sites and internet television, that boom is ready to be seen. If your movies aren't working then maybe it's time to work on some tv ideas and digital shorts. When Del Toro's project stalled, he segued over to television and directed the very successful series premiere of The Strain.

So get writing, don't look back, and create the next thing. There will always be bumps in the road. Instead of letting them derail you, let them help you regain control and help you figure out where you should be going.

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