I meant to post this shortly after posting the David Shore "how I got started in the business" clip from the 2006 Banff TV festival, but got distracted by the 2008 Banff TV festival articles I was posting at the time. In lieu of actually writing something in these prime days of summer, then, I'll throw it up now.
Paul Haggis was at that year's festival too (I wrote about it here), and a clip of his session is also available online. I love these stories, the “don’t do it this way” stories about dumb luck or should-have-been-unwise decisions, because they’re the unpredictable, human part of the equation. There are lots of places to go for advice on how to actually break into Hollywood, but what happens besides “write spec scripts, find an agent” is so much more interesting as a fan.
Anyway, the moral of Paul Haggis’ breaking-in story: “You need an edge. My edge is that I wasn't good, I had to be free. Not cheap, free.” He has the ratty chair and the Oscar-winning career to prove it.