Emmy-winning director James Sadwith has been making Hollywood movies and TV shows for 30 years, but one of his proudest accomplishments is tracking down author J.D. Salinger--twice.
As a teenager, Sadwith traveled to Salinger's hometown of Cornish, New Hampshire to get the reclusive author's blessing for a stage adaptation of The Catcher in the Rye Sadwith was planning at school. Salinger objected to the idea, but Sadwith put the play on anyway, then returned to Cornish to tell Salinger the production received a standing ovation. Sadwith chronicled the experience in a new film he wrote and directed called Coming Through the Rye, starring Oscar-winning actor Chris Cooper as Salinger.
Here are three lessons about perseverance Sadwith says he learned from meeting with the icon of American literature.
1. Doubters make great motivators.
Salinger refused to give his blessing for the play, saying it could not be done successfully. While Sadwith was saddened at first by the author's reaction, he returned to school emboldened, using the experience as motivation to put on the best play possible. "It was like waving a red flag in front of a bull," Sadwith says.
2. The first rejection isn't final.
Despite Salinger's initial rejection, when Sadwith returned after putting on the play, Salinger admired his determination. He even invited Sadwith into his home to talk about it. "He said, 'How did it go?'" Sadwith says. "Every time I got discouraged trying to find investors to finance the film, I remembered other successes that seemed impossible."
3. A little encouragement goes a long way.
Sadwith credits much of the success he's had throughout this career as a writer/director to one individual piece of encouragement he received from Salinger. "He said, 'You look creative. Go do something of your own,'" Sadwith says. "That has lived with me all this time." The lesson? Even a small showing of support can make a big difference.
Though Coming Through the Rye was selected as the closing night film at the Heartland Film Festival and sold out at the Virginia Film Festival, Sadwith has yet to secure distribution for the movie. "I haven't let that discourage me," he says, adding that the setback has only helped fuel his determination to land a distribution deal, or self-distribute the movie. "That's my next challenge."