Freaked Out and Fucked Up

Every morning, the first thing I see when I wake up is this big ass palm tree outside of my window, preceded by a deep blue sky (or more accurately as of late, a cloudy one that brings literally NO RAIN). When I see that palm tree, shimmying next to my neighbor’s weed plant, I take in a big deep breath of air that is riddled with gratitude. And when I walk to the Central Library, past the ever rising brand new KoreaAir skyscraper, which all the business folk watch come up with a certain curiosity on their lunch breaks, another deep breath of gratitude consumes my lungs. Making my way downtown (feel free to hum the Vanessa Carlton song, because I sure as shit do), I see a plethora of faces: homeless, famous, lovely, pissed, handsome, and touristy. All necks craned and eyes shooting upwards towards the glorious and neglected downtown of Los Angeles; a place of ghosts considering what it was back before the infamous recession. DTLA is considered the Skid Row of a glimmering city full of potential, but please let the record reflect that I freakin’ love it.

When I gave up my life to move here and pursue my dream of seeing the words I wrote being spoken by actors, any of ‘em, there was truly a part of me that suspected that my ass would be living in the Hills by now; I mean, afterall…I’m decent looking, tremendously talented, and ambitious to a fault. So my success seemed emanate, to me at least. To be true, I genuinely felt like those parts of me would guarantee my access into the professional world of Hollywood and boy oh boy was I wrong. It takes much more than all of those vital functions to make it in this city.

But what if you took all those functions and added to them the dynamic capacity of social networking? The answer is: a recipe for success. Maybe. I’m doing my damndest to rub elbows with the people that can make my words a reality, that can show the world what it’s like to fall in love with an original feature, one that can ignite excitement amongst the viewing audience who has forgotten how to think in terms outside of the ‘remake’ box. Hollywood is tremendously concerned with making movies and telling stories that we’ve already seen, but only after adding a bit of CGI and a few hot actors to the mix and BOOM! Red carpet gold, and money out the wazoo. There ain’t nothing wrong with that. My downfall and my upside is that I understand that studios these days only want to make hella money.

All of that being said, I don’t give a shit about the money that a successful screenwriter makes these days. Okay, well, maybe I give a bit of a shit because I’m always hungry and always wishing we didn’t live in a ‘shared housing’ situation, but that’s not why I do this. Why I do this is based on the simple fact that I know I can bring quality stories to the masses; stories that you will love, stories that you will never ever forget, and stories that you will want to see over and over again. Stories that, most importantly, come from my heart and soul-even when that sounds tacky, which it shouldn’t, but it may. I write because if I don’t, I go mad-as Lord Byron said. I know that, via Rockefeller Films, I can bring you stories that will take your breath away and make you feel…whole.

So right now, gang, I am totally broke and living in the city of dreams and I am writing to save my soul. Even if it never ever amounts to a real movie being made, I’ll be able to sleep well knowing that I am trying. Nay; I am doing. The difference you would learn in my script titled “How To End Your Life”. But that’s for another time.

Until then,

Nikki Rockefeller

SOTD: “Underground” by Kimya Dawson

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Humility, Deadlines, and Rewrites: A Screenwriter’s Nightmare

Okay, so I am not too proud to act like I don’t screw up when it comes to my writing life, or my life of writing. When I started this blog last week, I did it in the hopes that it would hone my otherwise lacking disciplinary skills. And ya know, hopefully I never lose that brand of hope in myself, even when I fail miserably in the first week. This, my friends, is humility at its best. But wait! There’s more. Not only did I miss my self-imposed deadline, I also ALMOST made the decision to delete my initial and introductory post. I was informed a few days ago that I had deleted my first post, and instead of checking to see if I had actually done it, I just assumed that I had; I chalked it up to the (what I call) ‘writers bipolar’; that little tug inside your mind that tells you, drenched in suave, that your words are nonsense. I guess that is often the case amongst the creative class, no? The highs and lows of feeling and thus, creating from the ever fickle duo of the heart and the mind. What I’m saying is, allow me to apologize for my fickle behavior and dismiss my lack of discipline. I’m still learning. Constantly.

Having done my research on what the life of a (lowly) screenwriter in this town, I learned early on that no script reaches the glorious silver screen without first being subject to at least two rewrites, and that’s being rather generous. As a writer, which to me means someone who has a vision that is not only literary, but also visionary, your idea of a good script is not universal. There are always going to be people that say that this and that must change, or else. And the ‘or else’ can mean many different things, as outlined thus: your idea is good, but it needs this; if you don’t rewrite it now, someone else will. And that’s it, folks.

A few weeks ago, I submitted a script that I felt was fucking flawless and perfect just how it is. And boy, was I wrong. The thing about that is that it’s okay to be wrong. Because what the movies are missing right now are true, deep, original ideas that have been worked and reworked and rererererereworked into perfection. Lucky for me, I have someone on my side that said this is great shit, but here’s where it can improve and I got the chance then to say, let me do it. Because I cannot imagine a more vast hell than some little shit rewriting my love, my script. And yes, I realize that that is a bold statement to make because there are some truly great script doctors out there and I would never lay shame to the people who have that task set before them to take a mess of a script and turn it into a movie that the viewing public will gladly spend their money to view. That’s a heavy burden. However, to have the chance to make those changes myself was a huge honor and a test to my skills: can you dissect your passion project and make it into something a bit more…sell-able?

The answer is yes. And it will always be a resounding yes. 

Even though it hurts to take your passion project and dice it up like David Chang does to onions prior to a spectacular Ramen dish, it’s better to keep your hand in it as long as you can. And when the day comes, as I’m sure it will for me, that you have to let some other person mince it up into tiny bits, you can say….okay. This is the business. This is how it goes, because studios are so very very particular, and if it means my shit makes it onto the screen then…amen. No matter what, even if absolutely nothing happens to me in the world of movies, I’m honored to be a part of that hustle and struggle. It’s that for which I was born, and I’ll take that weight to my grave.

x

Nikki Rockefeller

How I Got Here

This one is easy. There was never, ever any doubt about my arriving in Los Angeles, CA. As a child, my favorite fable to tell friends of my family that my real family, say nothing of my real big sister, all lived in Hollywood and that at any moment they would be back for me and I would be off to a lavish life akin to that of a Vanderbilt (minus the suicide, hopefully). As a child with a tumultuous present, it wasn’t of much concern that my fantasized future was that of excess. Once my parents reassured their consorts that I was indeed a Mulherin, born in the vast panhandle of Texas with only one brother and absolutely no ties whatsoever to a prominent Golden Coast family, my image of what I know now to be my future was squelched. But only, mercifully, temporarily.

Sometime shortly after that, I drafted my first short story; it was about a little girl that went to DisneyWorld on a school trip. Nothing spectacular, especially when conceived in the confines of a young imagination; however, when my third grade teacher asked my usually absent parents how our actual trip to DisneyWorld went, you can almost taste the confusion sitting heavy in the mouth of the two people who couldn’t even drive us to school every day, much less take us to some sort of rich person’s spoiled paradise. My mother, ever my savior, explained that her darling daughter had one hell of an imagination and thus, the Mulherin clan had yet to actually visit the holy land of Disney. And that’s when it all changed, because on the next day after the impromptu parent/teacher conference about our equally impromptu ‘vacation’, my lovely teacher kneeled down next to me and said,

“You made that story up, the one about going to DisneyWorld.”

“Yeah,” I said, my trepidation showing. “I’ve only ever seen it on commercials.”

With that confession, I winced in preparation of the punishment that would undoubtedly follow for telling such a very tall tale. So do, please, imagine my shock when my truth was for once met with a smile. Mrs. Carter grabbed my hands and pulled them to her chest as she said,

“Nikole, you have a gift.” She smiled with all her teeth; maybe a part of her knew that with her underpaid concern and with her matronly embrace, that she had changed the life of one very broken seven year old girl.

The point here is that, even at a terribly young age, within me laid the talent to make people who were otherwise knowledgeable tremble at the very thought of their knowledge being challenged. The burnout friends of my burnout parents believed, to a degree, that my parents had possibly kidnapped me from a wealthy blonde couple in Bel Air. A teacher, who saw me arrive daily by foot and no doubt malnourished, believed that somehow we had made it to the magical world of Disney. This, I learned at the age of seven, was a special thing. And afterall, with my shaking past and uncertain future, all I’d ever wanted was a way out and please god…let me be special.

Twenty years exactly to the day, I write this from my shared housing situation in Los Angeles. My boyfriend just read a book that told him that we only have glimpses into our future if we are completely immersed in the present. I fully believe this and here is why; tonight I realized something terribly important to who I am now, and who I believed myself to be in the face of all the evidence that said otherwise and, most importantly perhaps, with the grace of God-who I am yet to become…and this is she: Twenty years ago, I knew that there was someone in Hollywood that was successful and loving and would be coming back for me, who at the time was a sad and lonely and neglected seven year old, and she would find me to be deserving. This to me now, knowing what I know and intend to share with you as I go along, is a prophecy.

We’re just getting started. By that I mean that I am finally rescuing that fortune-telling seven year old from her terrible past and delivering her into a present that is shockingly hard, but equally as rewarding as a story teller.

My name is Nikki M. Rockefeller. I will pen your favorite movies and I will also make you put your nose in a book again. And you know what? You will absolutely adore every moment of it, and so will I. So cheers, my friends, to a beautiful adventure filled with love and loss and everything inbetween. And thank you, as always and forever, for reading. See you next Tuesday.

Regards,

Nikki M. Rockefeller