Excited screenwriters/5 things

December 7, 2008

So at one point last week I sent a trailer of an upcoming movie to three people involved with it: the big-cheese producer, the director, and the fancypants screenwriter.

The producer and director both have offices, so I sent the trailer to their assistants.

The screenwriter had… a cellphone number. I should call him and get his address, I was told.

“Is– is it okay to call him on his cell?” I asked the girl who gave me the number.

“Oh yeah,” she said, serenely.

I didn’t believe her. People understandably get weird about being called on their cell by complete strangers. WHAT IF HE YELLED AT ME? I MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO HANDLE IT. (I was having a long day.)

But I called him and left a message and eventually he called back and kept saying things like “Oh wow, REALLY, you’re sending me the trailer?!? Thank you so much!” and “I’m so excited, I’m going to show it to my kids.”

And guys. He was genuinely excited. SOMEONE WAS SENDING HIM THE TRAILER! He was gonna show it to his kids! A movie he wrote! I got excited for him.

I know that not ALL screenwriters are like this, but really, in my experience dealing with people, producers: annoyed that you didn’t get the MacGuffin to them LAST WEEK, and concerned that one of their co-producers with whom they are locked in an eternal power struggle got the MacGuffin first; directors: “WHO ARE YOU. And how did you get this number?”; writers: excited and grateful.



Things that made me laugh this week:

1) An assistant on my floor reprogrammed the copier’s default language to be German.

2) A friend and I watched Mongol, a movie about the rise of Ghengis Khan. We were pretty excited to see the VAST MONGOLIAN HORDES, so it was pretty disappointing that about 90% of the movie was not only utterly horde-free but also DULL AS HECK. At one point I said “Okay, question. Are we SURE this movie is about Ghengis Khan? What if it’s just about SOME RANDOM MONGOL WHO’S NOT THAT VIOLENT?!?” and then we both panicked and scrambled for the DVD box. (It was about Ghengis Khan. He just didn’t decide to do any decent raping and pillaging until about 114 minutes in to the movie.)

I am perpetually fascinated by the difference between mainstream American movies and foreign films: I am not claiming that mainstream Hollywood movies are always amazing, but a good many foreign films are like “Let’s cut to a four-minute shot of some clouds drifting over the city” or “I don’t really see any reason why we need to resolve the story in any way! Let’s just end on a shot of the guy looking in his refrigerator for a snack.”

Have you ever seen Night Watch? It’s this Russian movie about how there are two secret supernatural groups that have divided the day up amongst themselves, and the one half rules the day and the other half rules the night, and… there are vampires? Anyway, I watched it for 40 minutes. I tried. And then I turned it off, because I had NO IDEA WHAT WAS HAPPENING. This is because I’m American, I think. My brain was looking for a plot and goals and twists and turns and a main character, but the movie was made by Russians, so it was more like “Vampires are awesome! Now let’s go to a scene where a guy is living in a rundown apartment. Fantastic. We’ll never see that guy again, it’s just a commentary on the dreary nature of modern Russian life. Actually, this whole movie may or may not be an extended metaphor for the seductive disaster that is capitalism.”

3) You know how Facebook likes to suggest people it thinks you might be friends with? It is obsessed with suggesting that I’m friends with Derek Haas. I keep saying “No, I’m really not” and then a week later, THERE HE IS AGAIN. Facebook has this kind of eternal rube-ish optimism.

4) I am reading THE MOST EXCELLENT BOOK: Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, by Mary Roach. I personally really love that kind of chatty popular-science writing that has reached its apex in Malcolm Gladwell, and Mary Roach’s stuff is very similar. Only funnier.

The book is not – SORRY GUYS – about sexy sex and the people who have it, it’s about how hilariously weird the history of scientific investigation into People Doing It is. There is a section where the authoress visits a Danish pig farm to observe the results of the Danish government’s campaign to get people artificially inseminating lady pigs to sort of, ah, manhandle them in certain ways that I guess mimic what a boar would do, because the lady pig throws more piglets after being manhandled. And Ms. Roach can’t tell the Danish pig farmers Morten and Martin apart, and one of them lifts the lady pig’s hindquarters up and drops them down again, “as though testing her shocks”, and, I don’t know, this book! It is hilarious.

5) Naomi recently made this really excellent joke about how she was mopey “and lying around listening to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness“, which of course made me pull up the Smashing Pumpkin’s album Siamese Dream, THE SOUNDTRACK OF MY EARLY ADOLESCENCE. This is how lame I am now: I was playing it and thinking “My God! This is so loud. Was it always this loud?”

My mom can feel vindicated. A year or two ago she said something about how teenagers lurk in their rooms and play loud music, and I said that that was nonsense, when I was a teenager I listened to quiet indie rock and cheerful things like Weezer, and she said “….hmmmm.” in that way your mom does when you are WRONG. And you know what, listening to this album, she was right. YOU ARE RIGHT MOM. I TOTALLY LISTENED TO LOUD MUSIC.


5 Responses to “Excited screenwriters/5 things”

  1. Derek Haas Says:

    What? You don’t want to be friends? (Sorry about that picture by the way.) – DH

  2. Denis Says:

    Night Watch is like a Def Leppard video. Don’t try to figure it out, but sit back and enjoy the spectacle.

    BTW, I’ve known or talked to a lot of screenwriters. Most of them are mellow and groovy like that — just stoked to be recognized. But when you get a stinker, watch out. If that ever happens to you, just hang up and remember it’s them not you.

  3. anonymousassistant Says:

    Facebook thinks I like everybody I knew in high school. My high school was like an Buffy, but with fewer vampires and more zombies. No, Facebook, I don’t want to be friends with the captain of the football team.

  4. Jenny Says:

    so true about some foreign films. We went to see a French film because all the reviews I read said it was such a wonderfully adult mystery film. However, we never found out who the murderer was, at least I don’t think so… althougth the director had a weird long scene at the very end with all kinds of people standing around some sort of public building. The camera didn’t move for 3 minutes. We just sat and watched these people walking, talking and doing nothing. and I said to myself, “f-ing french – I want my 8.50 back.

  5. Nathan Says:

    Related to Facebook suggesting friends…Amazon would be excellent at suggesting books I should read, if they weren’t always suggesting books I’ve already read.

    And it may just say I’m a Neanderthal, but unless a few really trusted friends tell me some foreign film is AWESOME, I’m not paying to see anything with subtitles. If it’s that great, some American will make a version in English. (I’ve got some serious Neanderthal-creds!)

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