The Hero's Journey of Kevin Lasit
by Kevin Lasit
What compels me to write, how do I keep going, and will I ever quit?
Writing is re-writing. The above photo only shows about 25% of many, many, many other drafts of one of my screenplays. I wish I was talented enough to write a first draft that was as strong as my 80th draft. (actually, over 80!!) Persistence and consistency are the keys to completing a solid screenplay that is not only marketable, but more importantly, touches the heart of your readers and hopefully one day, your audience. Ever since I was a child, I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life - be a part of the entertainment industry. I've always seen and navigated the world through images, stage pictures, emotions, and through story. I was exposed to "conflict" at a very young age due to my parents always fighting and eventually getting a divorce. Although my family life was no picnic as a child, those life experiences made me who I am today, and gave me a solid foundation of what NOT to do as a parent, and at the same time, made me a more authentic and vulnerable artist.
I've been so lucky to have so many "pinch me" moments in my career pursuing the entertainment industry. As an actor, I experienced my first co-star role on NBC's Midnight Caller starring Gary Cole. I've done commercials, industrial , print work, voice-over work, independent movies, and I worked for a professional touring company for 10 years doing health education plays for schools across California, and I have written plays and screenplays. I was blessed to have one of my scripts optioned to a company in London, Komixx Entertainment. I worked with the owners of that publishing company, as well as, Brian Frankish (producer of Field of Dreams) and Edward James Olmos (Stand and Deliver, Blade Runner). It was a 4 year option. What on earth do you do with a 4 year option? You have lots of story meetings which include battles to change the ending, winning the battle, to keep the original ending, and then more meetings at Dreamworks Animation to educate Eddy on a CGI camera. All along waiting and hoping they will secure the budget to go into production. I learned so much, and I will always be grateful for that experience. To be in the presence and work, side by side, with the man who brought Field of Dreams to our world...was awe inspiring.
How did I accomplish all this? By never giving up. It's a tough industry, and if you never try, or you are too scared of rejection and throw in the towel before you even start, that's one sure way of killing your dreams. The rate of success is different for everyone, and one must evaluate how they define success. Success, for me, is pretty simple. #1 Are you truly doing what your heart desires. #2 Are you making time for your dreams everyday. #3 Are you studying in your medium. #4 Are you making progress? Some people call it "Working the Engines." I also have a friend who once told me, "Kev, it doesn't matter how long it takes, the only thing that matters is... that it gets done." Ben Watkins, producer, director, and show runner of hit shows like Burn Notice and Hand of God, lifted me up with those words years ago, and whenever I feel down about the industry, I remember Ben's statement and get back on track.
I can't stop my pursuit, even if I tried. My passion for the arts is ingrained in my DNA and that's why I have made a living from my passions. Through my journey, I have sacrificed time and work to get where I am today. Some sacrifices I've made don't pay off until years later, but it always surprises me when I look back and clearly see how all the dots connect. I always think about the missed moments I would have lost if I didn't take all those chances. I am beyond grateful for my continued experiences with each opportunity and the talented, people I meet, and especially, to have the honor to work with them. As an artist, I am constantly learning and growing in all aspects of my life and still taking healthy risks to expand my work. It all begins with a leap of faith.
Here is a video blog I made in 2005 when I quit my program coordinator/director job with a touring company:
As the video shows, I had an office built. An act of accountability to myself. (I had it built, so I better crank out quality content.) I loved creating in that artistic space in my backyard. It's not necessary to build out a large studio, but it's important to carve out a special place in your home where you can be creative. Surround yourself with inspiration. Make time for your writing and don't listen to any negative voices or opinions. The moment I quit my directing job, many friends and some family thought, "He has it all. A wife, two kids, and a great job in the arts. Why would he leave all that security?" Well, being away so much from my young children was taking a toll on me. I knew my time with them as children was limited, and I felt as if I was missing out on their youth. I also wanted to write more screenplays, to tell new exciting stories, but whenever I got home, I was too tired or distracted by work. I never made time to sit and write those stories. In September of 2005, that all changed when I walked away from all that security and status of a full-time gig, taking a major leap of faith.
However, "time" is not enough. Fast forward to September 2008, three years later. My wife and I decided to move out of California and live on Cape Cod, MA. We were craving more nature and quieter, safer neighborhoods. That was a huge move, and completely out of our comfort zone. We were stripped from everything we knew and were. We had no jobs lined up. We needed the ocean. I know that sounds crazy for some people, but it's true. We needed to be closer to the coast.
I was never so excited and scared all at the same time, but I felt so alive. We embraced our life journey and made a choice. Because of that bold move, so many new and wonderful people have come into our lives and we can't imagine our life without them. Our lives expanded and guess what else did? My art.
Why do I bring these moments of my life up and how does it impact my art? I believe my real life and my art are the same. How I live, and the choices I make, impact everything I do as an artist. Through the journey of living and taking chances, I can translate all those feelings and emotions into my fictional characters I create. I make my characters live as fully as I do. My Characters take risks, My characters make mistakes, and they also learn from those horrible mistakes. Long short, they are flawed, just like me, but strive to always be better.
I once had a friend ask me, "When will you give up? When will you ever realize you may never attain the next "level?" The question came from a place of love, although it may have stung a bit. The answer to that has always been clear to me... never. And if I "gave up" every time I was scared, or rejected, I would have never tasted any of my dreams. I can't imagine my life without all the experiences and people I have met. It's not about getting to the next "level." It's about living. My advice to anyone pursuing the arts is to live a full life. Take healthy risks. Dream big. Work hard. Be consistent and listen to your heart. And while you are living a full life, your dreams will continue to grow. The harder you work in your real life, the more rewarding your artistic life will become. As the wonderful song states in the movie, La La Land:
"Here's to the ones who dream
Foolish as they may seem
Here's to the hearts that ache
Here's to the mess we make..."
Speaking of being brave enough to dream, I recently won 3rd place with Wishland for the 2020 Story Summit being held at Ocean's Edge Resort this coming fall. The organization is lead by David Kirkpatrick, who was the president of Paramount Pictures and President of Production for Disney and Touchstone Pictures. My mentor will be the Oscar and Golden Globe nominated, Jeff Arch. What can I say? Another "pinch me" moment. I was also awarded the Jeff Arch Scholarship to attend this amazing summit. The fall can't come quickly enough. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to have lunch with a few members of the mentor team, including the lovely Rosa Salazar Arenas, who was one of the judges that read my material. It was definitely a highlight of my summer, and I can only imagine what the Story Summit has in store for me and all the other writers from across the world and because I am never giving up on my dreams, my world is expanding once again.