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Episode 060: Terri Tatchell -- Oscar-nominated screenwriter
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What we cover: Reinvention.
I have been calling myself a writer since I was 5 years old. I’ve had a fun and memorable career as an ad copywriter in agencies in Vancouver, as an editor, as a features writer for various magazines. I’ve written my one-woman show and am currently working on the sequel. I wrote my own comedy material in the days I did standup. But for me, the dream is to one day get that screenplay written – that’s the dream. I’ll be honest, though, for some reason, it’s scary to me. It’s a new format, and a new thing, and despite the fact that I’ve read countless books on screenwriting, and have taken half a dozen screenwriting courses, I continue to fall into the category – in this one area of my life – where I talk the talk, but I don’t yet walk the walk. That is my thing – my block. What’s yours? What’s that one thing you want to rock on, but instead you continue to stand in your own way? Because that’s what it is – it’s just ourselves -- getting in the way.
Terri Tatchell, of course is the Oscar-nominated writer of the 2009 blockbuster film District 9, which was directed by Neil Blomkamp, who also happens to be her main dude in life – her husband, in fact. So this is a woman knows a thing or two about filmmaking. I re-watched District 9 to prepare for our chat, and if you haven’t watched it lately – do so. I’m not sure how it’s possible, but its themes are somehow more relevant today. I actually felt sick to my stomach watching – themes of oppression, poverty, segregation. It’s all just a little too close to travel bans and walls and terror.
However, this isn’t just a talk about writing, and it’s not just a talk about filmmaking, it’s a talk about reinventing -- because she wasn’t always a screenwriter. She wasn’t one of those 18 year olds, fresh out of high school who makes a bee-line to LA. She was on another track altogether. She was a corporate gal, when she made what was arguably a 180, even going to so far as to both metaphorically and literally purge her closet of 33 of her office suits… knowing that in her new life as a writer, she would no longer be needing them. She made a fresh start. She hit the reset button, which is actually something we can all do. It just takes guts. And commitment. It takes what she calls: Hand-cuffing herself to the process.
The reason I started this series, is so that my two daughters, Majella and Burgess will have an inventory of inspiring conversations with paradigm-busters to draw upon for those times in their lives when they feel stuck. Each conversations give me the gift of at least one perspective shift – a new way of looking at the situation. And I want to thank Terri for reminding me that committing to a do-ever, throwing our proverbial hats in a whole new ring, is entirely our own choice. That we can get rid of our own version of our 33 suits – when we take the steps to make the decision to get to the heart of the answer to the question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”