In the olden days, about 200,000 years ago, before Mankind had developed the thumb and intelligence to operate a TV remote, a guy named Twain wrote a few books. In one of them, Roughing It (1872) he described his journey across America. He was heading west to get rich by digging for gold. He was 37 and had literally no experience digging for anything.
Twain was with 3 other men, one of whom, Ballou, actually was an old, well-seasoned miner. One evening the group made camp beside a stream in the Nevada mountains. On a hunch Twain snuck off on his own and made a quick survey of the stream bed. He was right; it was literally glittering with gold. He stuffed handfuls of the stuff into his pockets and strolled nonchalantly back into camp just in time to hear Ballou proclaim, “There’s no gold around here, boys. We need to keep moving on.”
In jubilant glee Twain threw his treasure down in front of them all. “No gold!?” he cried. “Take a look at that!”
Ballou glanced at the mess of gravel at his feet and said, “That’s nothing but granite rubbish and nasty, glittering mica that isn’t worth ten cents.”
Twain, feeling sheepish, but still unable to let the opportunity for pontificating go to waste, stated, “Well, I guess all that glitters is not gold.”
Ballou corrected him. “No, you idiot. Nothing that glitters is gold.”
And then Twain wrote:
So I learned that gold in its natural state is dull, unornamental stuff, and that only the lesser metals excite the admiration of the ignorant with an ostentatious glitter. However, like the rest of the world, I still go on underrating men of gold and glorifying men of mica.
Why do I relate this ancient anecdote right now? Perhaps it was spurred by the pang of regret I feel in realizing that I too am guilty of this; that I made some of my fictitious friends at Gestation men of gold when they were really men of mica.
I may take a break from blogging this dead horse now. Before I do let me suggest that this observation from Mark Twain has great resonance for those in, or contemplating entering, the film business. The men of mica are everywhere. Sometimes we make them into men of gold to ease our insecurities about them; because we need to believe they are strong, talented, honest, powerful, intelligent, motivated and productive.
But, most of the time we make this error because seeing things as they really are in this business is terrifying; and very, very difficult.