When preparation meets opportunity
By Rebecca Murga
One of my favorite quotes is from the philosopher Seneca who said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” I just wanted to use this blog to thank VFT for the preparation, and to thank ABC for the opportunity.
I’ll be the first to admit I was damn lucky to be one of five veterans selected for ABCs “Home for the Holidays” campaign. The whole thing started last year, when I moved to Los Angeles after making the decision to leave the Department of the Army and start my journey on becoming a writer/director.
I didn’t know one person in Los Angeles and I made rookie mistakes: I paid way too much for a 2-bedroom apartment with no air-conditioning, my car got towed the first week I was here, and I learned that it takes 20 minutes to get anywhere in LA… but I was focused and determined. I spent all my free time preparing by reading, writing, and networking so eventually when an opportunity arose, I would be ready. And all of that preparation came by way of VFT.
I had heard about VFT when I was in the Bay Area, and I attended my first meeting the month I moved here. And though I don’t have that gift that some VFTers have, of being able to walk up to complete strangers and share your life story, I learned a lot by watching and listening. There are some incredibly talented people in the group and sometimes it just takes a little listening to learn from them.
It was through those meetings I learned about the Veterans Writers Guild Workshop, met my good friends Ryan Curtis and Alex Mack, both fellow writers, and really worked on the crafts of writing/directing.
So when ABC announced a remarkable opportunity for scripts to be submitted for their “Home for the Holidays” campaign, I took everything I had learned that year and submitted a small 5-page script. The script wasn’t going to win any Oscars or change the world, but it was a story I wanted to tell, and it came from the heart.
I had two single mothers in my unit during my two deployments, and watching them trying to balance raising a kid and being a soldier seemed like an impossible task. There is something extraordinary about these women that pick up a rifle and go to war, balancing how to be a woman, be a mother, and a soldier. That was a story I wanted to share.
So when I was selected by ABC (after I did a little dance of absolute glee when I found out I was selected) I took on the responsibility of telling that story… and I wanted to do it well.
ABC and Lussier Productions supported me as a filmmaker and all the Veterans in the process, and even though it happened at warp speed, the time I had with my mentors was priceless. I mean, who gets to call the executive-producer from “Grey’s Anatomy” Jeannine Renshaw your mentor? Who gets to work with Armand Mastroianni, a wonderful director, writer and mentor; and Byron Werner who is by far the best DP (director of photography) I’ve ever worked with. Everything from casting to post-production was an experience that I will never forget. Every single one of my actors, especially Stephanie Sanchez and Makayla Galindo gave 100% and I could not be happier with the final cut.
Promoting of the films was just icing on the cake. Meeting and promoting with Jimmy Kimmel, Modern Family, and other ABC cast members was unforgettable. We also had segments on Good Morning America, ABC News, and The View.
Now, at this point, I could lie and say that I was calm, cool and collected when I met Whoopi Goldberg, Sherri Shepherd, and Jenny McCarthy from The View, but the reality is I don’t remember what I said, I was unbelievably nervous, and it took me three days to actually watch the piece. I don’t know how you actors do it.
So as I sit here and write this, I can’t help but be incredibly grateful to VFT and ABC, for providing veterans the opportunity to realize their potential.
The most difficult thing an artist has to do is surround themselves with creative people and positive energy, people that will believe in their ability and potential and the energy to create and finish projects. All of which ABC and VFT helped me to do.
VFT changed the game for me. It wasn’t just me living in LA alone trying to make it. I had battle buddies again, folks that would back me up and support me and pick me up if my car ever gets towed again.
Watch all of the ABC Home for the Holidays videos here: http://abc.go.com/holidays
Rebecca Murga works in Los Angeles as a writer, producer, and director while also serving as a Captain and Public Affairs Officer in the Army Reserve. She is both an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran serving overseas from 2007-2009 and again in 2011. She has been published by the New York Times, The Global Journal, The Morning Call, the San Jose Mercury, and her photography has been exhibited in galleries across the country.
View Rebecca's VFT profile here: http://www.vftla.org/veteran/rebecca-murga