Michael Arndt wrote the script for Little Miss Sunshine in three days in May of 2000. He didn’t think the movie would get made. “Just too small and indie.”
Seven years later, he gave an acceptance speech at the Academy Awards for “Best Original Screenplay.”
In an interview, Arndt said he thought he’d write maybe 50 scripts in his life. Perhaps five of them would make it to the big screen. Maybe one or two would amount to something.1
“What an analytical mindset,” I thought. “So does he think his career is nearing the finish line?” Then I forgot about it.
A couple years ago I read a New Yorker profile of Trump. “He considers exercise misguided, arguing that a person, like a battery, is born with a finite amount of energy.”2
It’s the same mindset as Arndt’s “fixed production” guess. “You have a limited amount of good ideas. Once you use all those good ideas up, you’re done!”
Arndt at least is aligned with show business folklore.
In NYC in the 1960’s, comedians would gather at Lindy’s Deli to chat about the industry. If somebody signed a deal to do a weekly or monthly show, the comedians believed their career would flame out. The way to have longevity was to stick to guest appearances.3
Careers were like candles. If you burned them from both ends, they were over twice as fast.
Okay, but how do you explain Michael Crichton or Quentin Tarantino?
Or take Louis CK, who spent years putting together an hour of material. Once he had his hour, he’d give it over and over again every night. It was good enough to get him gigs and pay his bills. Then, in 2005, George Carlin suggested he throw his hour away and start over. Not this one time, but at the end of every year.4
I hesitated to start publishing a blog. What if I ran out of things to say?
- His “hits” include Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so he’s tracking a little above his prediction.↩