Tuesday, February 14, 2006

so over at some writer's blog, some guy who claims to know my friend who was at this dinner the other night...

it's a bad intro. i'm not a writer. i'm a (recovering) development executive. here's the thing about being a development executive. and it's good news/bad news.

good news. once upon a time i'm playing on my hardscrabble soccer team in the LA Municipal league. this was a team i'd put together in one of the mid-level divisions (the core of which would go on to dominate in the top division later), we played at some shitty fields, but we had a good time. i had a writer friend on the team (several), most of them not getting much work. some of them seemingly living in their cars. but we were all friends, and my junior junior junior exec career was just beginning, so i was a beacon of hope for these guys. one friend and his partner had done a t. corghasson (spelling?) boyle short story adaptation, and a pretty damn good one. no one had bitten, but it had got them meetings around town. which, of course, pays very little rent. but here i am at my new fancy job (pay? 27,000k a year.) reading, oh, conservatively, 8 scripts every tuesday (spec day!!!), all on a rush, all needing synopses and comments, and should my bosses actually read them?. plus a manuscript, usually on wednesdays, 500 pages and could you turn it around in 2 hours? and is it any good? and about 15 scripts a weekend. and the notes: mother of gog and magog, the notes! massive tomes, documents that would stand the test of time! oh mighty notes, i must have written an asimovian output of them. and to some damn good writers--some of the top in the industry. i had been working in the biz for a year or so. no background in film. but these guys had to execute my notes, or be fired.

but i continue, as is my way, to digress.

so my friend, let's call him John, though his real name is jon, has written this adaptation of boyle. and i force my boss to read it, because my boss has been fixated on this brilliant moon ghost story thingie. for years. but no one has been interested. so he likes the boyle script, brings the writers in for a meeting, and lo! and behold! they get hired. and they get a nice chunk of change, something around 6 figures. and suddenly, i've hooked my friends up with a great paying gig. and that is just fucking cool.

that's the good. the bad, and here josh f only gets it half right: sure, often the gig requires saying "this is grrrrrrrrrreat" about steaming piles of ordure. but more often, in my experience, it requires coming up with endless stuff to say about why, oh, i don't know, a story about the gadget guy at the CIA should be about a low level engineer type who discovers the secret to cold fusion. in other words, auto-job-justification. pages and pages. notes on notes. notes on drafts that are based on previous notes rewritten to meet previous notes all of which are contradictory. and if the writer is "good", all of which have been executed faithfully, because by jove if the character needs to be more "somber" yet "funnier" somewhere in the same set of notes, you had better deliver.
you think i need barton fink to give me that barton fink feeling? i've got a thousand barton finks!

i once told a certain director from a certain country where they wear a certain kind of shoe made out of a certain naturally growing substance about a certain script that became a certain movie with academy award winning actors/editors/producers/production designers/composers and so on...i told this guy, upon receiving the (greenlit, budgeted and ready to roll, full fee to the director who was like a boss to me, in that i worked for him) script, that it sucked. ass. that it would be a mistake to make it.

i was fired.

just in case any prospective future employers are reading this, i just want to make very very clear: message received.

back to my regularly scheduled ranting.

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