I was going to write about something else today, but in honor of the passing of director John G. Avildsen yesterday, I gotta talk about Rocky.
It took a great deal of restraint to not just say "ALL THE MONTAGES FROM ROCKY 4 HEARTS ON FIRE STEROIDS AMERICAAAAA". Yes, Rocky 4 is a blast. Till Creed came along, it was my favorite sequel of the franchise. But let's not forget our roots here.
Sylvester Stallone quickly morphed into one of the biggest action stars on the planet after Rocky came out. If you only know him as such, do yourself a favor and read up on the road that led to him getting this film made. It's inspiring. The man was a starving artist, and Rocky was him putting it all on the line.
He's also a damn-good actor and writer.
I don't know what else to say, really. You've all seen it. Even if you haven't, you know what happens. What I will point out that is something I read in a book about screenwriting regarding the original script:
Rocky was initially supposed to throw the climactic fight against Apollo Creed, make a shit-ton of money off of it, the open a pet store with Adrian. That was the sunset ending... cleaning hamster shit and wood-chips out of tiny cages. Yes, the kernel of the idea was there -- Rocky loses the fight but wins Adrian in the process. But oh my God... how lame would that have been?
Luckily, Stallone trusted his collaborators. He trusted the people around him to help him reach the maximum potential of the story. We get the tear-jerking, jumping through the ceiling, rewind it 100 times over as the adrenaline-courses-through-your-veins ending Rocky deserved.
I've gotten better at hearing critical feedback. It's hard. It's so hard. If you put your soul into something and someone tells you it doesn't work, it's hard not to take it personally. There was a scene in the original version of Anna Robot that my collaborator and I completely disagreed on. I fought tooth-and-nail with her on it till he very end, with her adamant about us getting rid the scene. Long story short, it's sitting on the cutting room floor.
Anyone I tell about it is baffled it was even there in the first place. I feel the same way. It took me a while to come around, because I'm stubborn, but I'm so happy I did. It would have completely ruined the film. Trust your collaborators, y'all. If you've got a project where everyone involved believes in it, the best interest of the piece will be at heart.