I just saw this blog post, Ang Lee and the uncertainty of success, describing the writer / director’s very long pre-career. It’s sobering stuff. The thirty-year-old Ang Lee, after studying at NYU with Spike Lee, and winning an award as a student film-maker, then just works and works, waiting for something to happen. Six years pass like that, with nothing to show for it.
He spends every day at home, working on scripts, raising the kids, doing the cooking. That’s a six-year span — six years! — filled with dashed hopes and disappointments. “There was nothing,” he told The New York Times. “I sent in script after script. Most were turned down. Then there would be interest, I’d rewrite, hurry up, turn it in and wait weeks and weeks, just waiting. That was the toughest time for Jane and me. She didn’t know what a film career was like and neither did I.” It got so discouraging that Lee reportedly contemplated learning computer science so he could find a job during this time, but was scolded by his wife when she found out, telling him to keep his focus.
Put yourself in his shoes. Imagine starting something now, this year, that you felt you were pretty good at, having won some student awards, devoting yourself to it full time…and then getting rejected over and over until 2019. That’s the middle of the term of the next President of the United States. Can you imagine working that long, not knowing if anything would come of it?
You can read the whole piece here: Ang Lee and the uncertainty of success.