CONCEPT ONLY: PASS

June 20, 2008

Two things happened recently, to wit:

1) I stupidly read a bunch of studio coverage. (It was there and I was bored. Also, I am a sucker.)

Oh man. I had forgotten that studio analysts are HARSH. And SARCASTIC! To the point of practically drawing in little rolling-eye graphics to indicate the fullness of their disdain! This one dude kept being all “I don’t know what the writer was going for, but he obviously failed miserably“. They didn’t like ANYTHING. They could barely get beyond the occasional “Page 42 wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever read. I suppose.”

And a lot of these were scripts I had read and might have been kind of “Well, I really liked the idea and the characters!” about. Some of these were scripts by FABULOUS WRITERS whose careers I wish to emulate!

2) I went to a table read hosted by my lovely friend J.

Why all of this made me nervous:

Writers have this impulse to write something, something super fantastic, and then you fall in love with YOUR WORDS (I don’t think I do that part very much. But now I’m paranoid.) and then when it’s done, it may or may not actually be super fantastic, you can’t necessarily tell. In fact, it might be sort of bad! You don’t know! You might even be a successful writer turning in drafts of a project to a big studio, drafts that are about to get torn a new one by a cranky analyst who moved to LA to become a writer but found himself sidetracked by a semi-cushy story analyst job and who is a little bitchy about that…. and you STILL don’t know. Nobody ever goes “Fuck it! Screw those people, I could do an awesome job, but instead I’m turning it in like this. Poorly-written, and covered in jam stains.” People TRY, and the analysts still don’t like it.

(As an aside: does this happen in publishing? Sometimes I feel like, in Hollywood, no one ever, ever, ever says “This is GREAT and I love it and don’t change a word”, no matter how many drafts and writers they go through. No one is ever happy with the product. “But it won this Oscar!” “Who cares, the third act was weak and the protagonist needs to be more likable and compelling. And more proactive and relatable. POOR ACROSS THE BOARD, PASS.”)

(As another aside, I feel that studio analysts WAY overuse the “poor” column. Listen, pal. You know as well as I do that this script by Big Honking Writer is not actually poor. If this script by a professional writer who knows how to spell is poor, how do you rate some dude’s unauthorized TERMINATOR VS. PREDATOR script he wrote on the back of a Hooters placemat?)

Anyway. This makes me FREAK OUT. My God, what if I have literally no ability to judge the okayness of my own work? I am generally pretty easily convinced that I am not all that glorious, but even so, I might be wildly overestimating how great I am!

I AM NEVER GOING TO POLITELY ARGUE WITH MANAGER-GUY ABOUT NOTES AGAIN.

Speaking of, Manager-Guy recently gave me the best and most stealthily hilarious note I have ever gotten. In my first draft, I had written a line where two brothers are saying goodbye in a Fraught And Dramatic Way and I said that they were tearing up. And Manager-Guy said, in this really sharp, decisive tone, “No they aren’t. THEY ARE NOT.”

See? THAT is a useful note. THERE IS NO CRYING IN HEIST FILMS.

***

Some links:
1) The rather delightful John August imagines studio notes on Puzzle Farter. It made me laugh in that way where you sound like you’re losing it.

2) Also: Daddy Likey, my new favorite blog. She’s a girl who lives in PacNo and blogs about clothes and is hilarious. Her most recent post is about search strings that brought lost souls to her blog, and includes this bit of glory:

“fred meyer” “sex toys”
You are so barking up the wrong tree.

(This may be something you need to be from Portland to understand.)

3) Do you read War Is Boring? It’s this blog by a freelance war correspondent. I am really, really surprised that no one has snapped up the rights to it yet. But I digress! What I wanted to mention was that the journalist, David Axe (COME ON DUDES, BUY THIS GUY’S LIFE RIGHTS, he’s handing you a big heaping heap of cool on a platter.) is currently in Chad, where he just got carjacked.

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