Tuesday, September 14, 2010

TAKE TEN: Director/Author Gary Hardwick

Gary Hardwick is the very definition of a creative powerhouse. The Detroit native is the man behind some of the great movies of the past decade including The Brothers and Deliver Us From Eva and hit tv shows like Hangin' With Mr. Cooper, but there is more to him than what you see. He has even been an integral part of what we read as well, producing several books over the years that have sparked conversation and satisfied readers.

Candid, approachable yet undeniably a force to be reckoned with, the Los Angeles, CA resident talks to Cyrus Webb of Conversations Magazine about his career in entertainment, how he balances his various roles and what all aspiring creatives need to know about the business.


Gary, thanks for talking with Conversations. Let's talk first about your career in the arts and entertainment as a whole. What has surprised you the most about what you have accomplished? 
That I actually accomplished it. I was very naive about Hollywood. I thought it was a place where all you had to have was talent. There is so much more to it, like hard work, perseverance, politics and yes, luck.

Take us back. When did you realize that you were good at telling a story?
I was 12 and one of my teachers read one of my stories in class and there was silence. All these knucklehead kids just shut up and listened.

Was it something that was encouraged by your family and those around you?
No and you'll hear this from most writers. No family wants their son to be a writer because it seems like a pipedream. And your friends? They never want anyone to achieve more than they have. I hate to sound cynical but it is hard to have a public dream. Most of us kept it quiet until we couldn't anymore.

When it comes to a big break, Gary, what would you say it was for you?  This is a tough one because looking back it could have been many things.
But I'd have to say it was being selected by the Walt Disney Writing Fellowship Program. There were 1,000 or so entrants and only four of us made it in.

Some know you because of your work on movies, but you have had a great deal of success as an author as well. Have you found that your being diversified as also brought you different fans for each project?
Yes and I am trying to get them to consolidate! My film fans say "You wrote a book?" and I say "I've written eight." Book fans never quite put me together with the movies.  I've spent so much time trying to get one of my books made into a film. So far, I've sold three but none have made it to the screen.  I think that when it happens the two camps will come together.

All of us experience highs and lows. How do you stay motivated when things don't go our way? 
I write. I just sit down and create something new.  Writers are the only people who don't need anyone else to get their job done. We are self-originating you could say.  Fan emails and posts on Facebook also help.

Talk to us about the next book you are getting ready to release.
It's titled Darktown Redemption and it's a mystery thriller set in 1967 and '68.  There was a riot in Detroit in 1967 then Dr. King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated and the Black militants came into the city to stir up a violent revolution.  In my novel, a boy is killed after the riots and his brother a Vietnam Vet turns detective to find the killers while history swirls around him.  The book is based in part on true events and I hope everyone will read it in Black History Month 2011.

What advice do you have, Gary, for individuals wanting to break into Hollywood? 
Go to college, become educated, get married have a life. Experience life and have something to write about. These days everyone wants to write a screenplay and cash out. It just doesn't work that way no matter what you've read. They make up so many b.s. success stories out here. No one stumbles into success. You work for it or it's given to you because of who your parents are.  That's just the plain honest truth.

What about for writers? What do you normally tell those who want to know the secret of being published?
There is no secret anymore. The publishing business is a wreck. Self-publishing, regional publishing, digital books, e-readers are the future of our medium. The publishers are trying to compete with Hollywood by creating franchises and bastardizing our most artistic undertaking. If you want to get published the best way now is to prove it to them by doing it yourself.  Point of fact, Darktown Redemption caught the fancy of two major publishers but both wanted me to change the story in opposing ways. So, having already had success in publishing a novel under my own imprint, I decided to do it again and keep all the money.

Thanks again for your time. How can our readers keep up with everything you have going on?
They can go to my website www.garyhardwick.com and look under the title "What's Going On." they can also join my FaceBook page and read my blog at http://garyhardwick.blogspot.com.

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