When writers take questions from the public, they’re always asked the same thing: How did you break into the business? And they give their answer, which always involves going through some bizarre, circuitous, back-door channels. And the questioner will often dutifully write down this crazy once-in-a-lifetime route, planning to do the same thing themselves.
But they call it “breaking in” for a reason. The system is set up to keep people out, so every time that someone breaks in, it means that the system is momentarily broken. Breaking into the business is much like breaking out of prison. In Escape from Alcatraz, does Clint Eastwood study how other people broke out and then recreate their proven path? No, he figures out a way that nobody’s tried before. And nobody’s going to be able to re-create his method either. The first thing that the wardens do when someone breaks out of prison is make sure that nobody can ever use that method again.
The film industry does the same thing. When The Blair Witch Project became a huge hit, independent producers all decided that they now had a new foolproof marketing model: Create an ambiguous website early on that makes people wonder if there’s more to your movie than meets the eye. Let buzz build, strike while the iron is hot, and become a millionaire. Lots of people tried to become the next Blair Witch, but nobody succeeded. The targets of the marketing had been astounded the first time, but they quickly grew cynical.Let's look at it from Hollywood’s point of view. Unfortunately, they see their situation as not unlike the big siege at the end of the second Lord of the Rings movie. And they see you as an orc that wants to seize power. There are thousands of orcs with clubs and axes raiding the gates and there’s just a small band of poorly-trained humans to defend the castle. As Hollywood sees it, they only have a few jobs to hand out every year, but there are thousands of aspirants who have put their lives on hold and gone into massive debt in hopes of getting each one of those few jobs. The decision makers can’t speak to those thousands of people individually or they’d never get anything done, so the chorus of demands becomes a deafening roar that they feel they have to shut out entirely.
But what if one of those orcs is really a nice guy? He doesn’t just want to loot the place-- in fact, he wants to be a human himself and he’s got some good ideas about how to help them. How does this orc let the humans know that he’s there to help? His fellow orcs are attacking the gate with a battering ram. Does he walk past them, knock on the gate, and ask for an interview? No, that wouldn’t work. He maybe gets an introduction to Gimli through a shared confidant from their old mining days. Or he sees a sudden chance to selflessly help out Aragorn, who gratefully decides to hear him out in return. No matter how he gets the opportunity to make his case, have no doubt, he’s going to have to get snuck in through the back door.