Napoleon Hill wrote an entire chapter on persistence in Think and Grow Rich. And in that chapter he said, “There may be no heroic connotation to the word ‘persistence’ but he said the quality is to the character of man, like what carbon is to steel.”
Persistence develops your character. When you truly embrace persistence in every thing you do, you begin to be proud of yourself. I am proud of myself for being persistent. I never quit.
At the age of 24, I wrote and produced my first TV movie, which ended up being aired on Pakistan TV network and several International channels worldwide as a six part mini series. I won the best writer award. You must be confused as I was thinking how a movie became a series.
I had returned from Los Angeles with a business degree and studied film and television from UCLA. I was young, full of enthusiasm to step into the real world. I had no idea that I could make another movie about making of my first entertainment project.
Writing is my passion and comes naturally to me. So writing the screenplay was an ocean breeze. Every step that followed, taught me the meaning of persistence.
Based on my studies, I began approaching producers. In 1995, there were only two TV networks in Pakistan. Indian television was in its infancy. So there were few doors to be knocked. In Pakistan you cannot enter without knowing “big shots “. Fortunately, I come from a business family. I thought it would make my life easier but that didn’t do much for selling my script.
I knew I had a good script and so did others in the industry. Because I was a novice, the networks weren’t willing to give me the break I deserved. After struggling with selling my script which was becoming challenging, I decided to independently produce my own script.
That was the beginning of my production journey. Again being a novice, it was a challenge to convince directors and actors to take a risk on me. Directors wanted me to first attach a star before committing. Actors wanted to see a director’s name before committing. Still I did not give up.
I managed to get a star cast and a director. My persistence continued.
Now came the time to get the show on the road. I began the pre-production process from what I had learned in school and few months of practical experience working at NBC in Burbank, California. Working in Pakistan, applying my American knowledge was becoming frustrating. My paradigms kept screaming at me that, “Asad, you can’t do this, it’s too hard, it’s not too late to give up. Go back to America.” With the support of my loving family, friends, and colleagues, I kept moving forward. Rehearsals began and the production schedule got set.
Now I was running on adrenaline. Waking up at seven, after sleeping at three a.m., was becoming fun for me. Looking back at my past younger self, I feel so proud of myself. My deepest regret is that I never got the chance to share my pinnacle moments with my father, who passed away without me sharing with him about my first project. Making my father proud of me was a major driving force for me.
Flash forward to the first day of shooting. The path ahead was foggy. I kept on taking baby steps and the fog began to clear. Everyday I crossed one obstacle after another. Soon I was wearing the hats of the assistant director to the production coordinator to the wardrobe, props and the catering guy. There were days when suddenly the location selected became unavailable. I arranged suitable alternative. One time, the leading man was about to quit, I managed to get him back. As the saying, ‘the show must go on’, I proudly did not let any roadblock stop me. So relieved to hear on the final day of shooting, ‘it’s a wrap’. That night I slept like a baby after two weeks.
There was still a long way to go. Pulling all nighters in editing was challenging and rewarding at the same time. Getting the titles and music and dubbing, all had its ups and downs. All my persistence was now materializing. Watching the hard work of my team on screen gave me the goosebumps.
You would think that watching ‘the end’ and the ending credits roll was a sign to go home. Not for me! My biggest obstacle was staring at my face with no help in sight. Now that I have the finished product in hand, where and how do I sell. The private network who had agreed to buy, backed out at the last minute. My only other option at that time was to knock on the government TV network which had red tape, bureaucracy, and corruption. I got tangled in their web of ridiculous objections for months. The final negotiations came down to cutting my 90 minutes movie into a six episode series which they would air as promotional content during the 1996 cricket World Cup.
Stella Mann one time said that, if you can hold it in your head you can hold it in your hand.
I will never forget the the day I watched my name appear on the television screen, “written and produced by Asad Jung”.