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003: Opportunity 
Posted in My Journey as a Screenwriter 4 min read
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Clichés are wonderful pieces of wisdom because in some way, shape or form they always derive from a source of truth.

The cliché I have the most experience with and can attest to its authenticity is,

“When one door closes, another door opens.”

Alexander Graham Bell

Or as skillfully put by Dr. Frasier Crane in the 1993 television show, Frasier; episode 10, ‘Opps’ once said, “The exit is yet another entrance upon another stage.” This silly quip of vague encouragement one shares to another who is down on their luck, I think should result to more than just a reactionary eye roll when you apply it to the process of achieving success. This advice is a follower beat to something called the Catalyst as noted in Save the Cat. The Catalyst is the moment when the protagonist receives ‘bad news’ and must change in order to survive – my catalyst happen in the Summer of 2017.

C. Neil Davenport biting down on his Augusta University BA diploma.
Photo by C. Neil Davenport – 2017

In the last semester of my bachelor’s degree, I dated a fantastic young woman, took a full load of classes (one of which was my senior capstone project), worked part-time, was an assistant director to a three act theatrical play and during this insane procedure of time where I only slept for three hours a night, I build a rock solid grad school application for the film MFA program which only accepted ten people per year… no pressure.

Douglas Sloan (far left), Nicholas Sloan (middle), C. Neil Davenport (middle) and Cameron Logan (far right) filming a scene of The Only Gift (2016)
Photo by Heather Logan

So, I walked across the graduation stage, received my degree, got type-B flu, acted in a short film by Cameron Logan and received an invitation to interview for the MFA program! I interviewed, was placed on the ‘Waiting List,’ moved out of hometown to help my grandfather build a dock on the river after his heart attack, wrote my first full-length screenplay and waited to inevitably be sent a ‘Dear John’ letter from the MFA program. The door slammed.

C. Neil Davenport repairing a dock on the St. John’s river.
Photo by Kathy Davenport – 2017

Now the thing to do in a moment like this is don’t sit around and wait for another door to magically open. You have a choice to make. Do I slump around and be depressed or do I do everything I can to open another door? My options at the time were as follows: 1. Move back to my hometown of Augusta, Georgia where there wasn’t any career advancement for me. 2. Move to Atlanta – the Hollywood of the South on nothing but a dime and 3. Move to the center of the nation where my parents lived to figure out things in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

C. Neil Davenport bartending for a day-job.
Photo by C. Neil Davenport – 2017

To make the long story short, Oklahoma turned out to be the best decision I could have made! When I got there, I networked my ass off and heard the swing of a door open when I was accepted by non-union acting agency, Magna Talent. It was through them I was able to start my acting career. As well, during this time I was hired to be a facilitator of excellent customer service and proponent of therapeutic listening while mixing detail oriented cocktails for a modern-day speakeasy. Simply put, I became a bartender when I wasn’t acting which is an additional door in of itself.

Doors are built to provide opportunity in the most unlikely of expectations and limit the length of certain journeys we think will last forever. Additionally, when they are shut, there’s a reason why. However, the thing they don’t do is open themselves. Someone has to do the act of turning the knob and pushing. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” How’s that for a cliché transition! So go knock on some and yes, as (the real) Jordan Belfort says, “You need to knock until your knuckles bleed” because though most doors will remain closed, all you need is one to open.  

Genuinely,

blog published in 2017 & revised in 2021

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