Once upon a time, many years ago, there were two young men named Marty and Stevie.
Marty and Stevie had only two things in common: they both wanted to be filmmakers, and they were both talented.
But that was where the similarities ended.
Marty was four years older than Stevie and seemed to be doing better in the academic department. For instance, Marty had a Master’s degree and even taught a few lectures at the university, while Stevie was rejected from his original college of choice and got distracted while an undergraduate.
When Marty was 25, he made his first proper film. It would take him nearly three years to finish and release it. Around the same time, while he was still an undergraduate, Stevie impressed the heads at a big Hollywood studio so much that they gave him a contract, making him the youngest director to be signed by a major studio.
While Marty was stuck editing a documentary about a disastrous music festival, Stevie directed his first proper film and turned a few heads in the process. Everybody was amazed by the hot new director.
Marty looked at his own film, which wasn’t quite what he had hoped; he looked at Stevie’s film. And he said to himself, “This damn kid is stealing my show.”
As he was saying this, a certain rich man came up to him and said to him, “Come and make a film for me, and I shall make you more famous than Hitchcock.”
Marty agreed and went to make the film for the rich man.
When the film came out, it was an even uglier mess than his first film. When Marty looked over at Stevie’s end, he saw Stevie holding court with all manner of royalty and gatekeepers, and he said to himself, “I gotta do something about that kid.”
So Marty got together with his two pals and hatched a plot about some mean streets, and by the time the film came out, Marty had finally won some attention. The right heads were turning in his direction.
And Marty said to himself, “I really showed him.”
But before he knew it, Stevie had hatched a plot about sharks and shark hunters, and become a millionaire in an instant.
Marty stood there agape for a moment, then he said to himself, “I’m going to make the meanest, darkest, coolest flick there ever was.”
And he hatched a plot about a taxi driver going mad, and the world went crazy, and when Stevie looked over at Marty’s end, Marty was in bed with all the critics.
All of them.
Stevie said to himself, “Marty has defied me and taken all the attention for himself, and I must win all that attention back.”
So Stevie hatched a plan about aliens who understand nothing but music, and even got the great Truffaut to act in the film, and when the film came out, everybody forgot all about Marty and crowded around Stevie.
Marty was furious, and he said to himself, “I’m going to have to whack this kid for good.”
So Marty, whose head was so full of music after just finishing a rock documentary about a band, decided to make a musical about New York, and he even got the great Vincente Minnelli’s daughter to act in it.
And when Stevie heard that Marty was hatching a musical plot, he said to himself, “I’m going to have to make so much money I’ll bury him under it.”
So Stevie began to hatch a plot about his own musical, but with an added twist: World War II, comedy.
And he said to himself, “I bet he won’t see that coming.”
Marty and Stevie plotted so hard, and so big. When the huge films were finally released into the sky like two cumbrous albatrosses, both crashed into the ground so hard with a resounding noise that all of Hollywood shook.
Marty and Stevie stood in the wreckages of their respective films, alone, dejected, abandoned, wondering what went wrong.
They looked at each other and their eyes met, perhaps for the first time. Marty saw in Stevie’s eyes the soul of a man who just wanted to create exciting, big spectacles of story, and make a little money in the process.
Stevie saw in Marty’s eyes the soul of a man whose one and only true love was Cinema herself.
They strode across the expanse towards each other, shook hands, and smiled.
And Marty said, “Come by my house, I’ll show you a few films no one’s ever seen before.”
And Stevie said, “One day, I’ll help you make a film that will make you a lot of money.”
The two went their separate ways, true to themselves in a way they’d never been before, and truer artists in a wholly new way.
Marty became the “greatest living director.”
Stevie became the “highest-grossing director in history.”
Marty was Marty.
Stevie was Stevie.
And they lived happily ever after.
Moral of the story: be your own kind of beautiful, and forgive the exhausted cliche.
Every life story is a snowflake.