Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"Writers" - Part 3

*Continued from "Writers" - Part 2

From Two to Three, or, "It doesn't snow in Hollywood because there are flakes enough already."

So, an aspiring writer has had their Moment Two.  Now it's game on.  Career mode.  Strive to get those paychecks by any means possible.  For writers, that means writing needs to happen.  But Moment Three involves professionals.  Those who've been in career mode for years.  People who work in the dreams an aspiring writer simply plays in.

As anyone with a career can tell you, the professional workplace encompasses many things that amateurs don't worry about.  Lawyers.  Accountants.  Schedules.  All of which can be (and usually are) absolutely terrifying to the amateur.

This part of the journey is when writers unequivocally separate themselves from "writers."  Writers, you see, will power through, do their due diligence, and sign contracts (after carefully vetting them, hopefully).  Writers will adhere to delivery schedules and will be on time.  Writers will recognize that their so-called art is as much as a business as it is a creative endeavor, and will adjust their approach to accommodate this sometimes ugly truth.  At the end of the day, however... writers will get paid.  Writers will be presented the option of quitting their "other jobs."  Writers will actually get to write for a living.

Shut the fuck up.  Right?

But... what will "writers" do?  Well, the specifics of the answer to that question are highly variable.  The general answer is that they'll fail.  Not only because they aren't writers, but because - at this stage - they put themselves in positions to piss other people off.  And not just random people.  But the people they met at Moment Two.  The people who were paying attention.  The people who were willing to pay money.  And when those people are pissed off, one typically finds their career and career aspirations grinding to halts and going in reverse.

Here are some examples:

Situation One: The Failed Actor, Decent Writer... and Failed Writer

Let's call this guy "K."  Once an aspiring actor, his rising star fell quickly on the back of some health problems, so he took a step back and started to regroup via writing.  Lo and behold, the guy can put together interesting characters in interesting situations.  The screenplays he knocks out aren't great, but they're typically worthy of developing.

Except he doesn't rewrite.  Or he gets stuck in "perpetual rewrite."  Or he just won't deliver the damned script.

A friend of his in Hollywood (for whatever reason, K never made the jump out there) once sat in a pitch meeting and one of the producers in that meeting asked for a specific type of story.  This friend remembered one of K's scripts that fit the bill (two scripts, actually) and immediately contacted K.  One would think K would've been euphoric.  K's friend (also an aspiring writer) went to a pitch meeting and wound up pitching K's work, rather than his own.

Side note: said friend is a fucking moron.

Anyway, what did K do?  He declined to share his work.  Even though, after his friend's pitch, the producer asked to read the scripts.  The friend (the fucking moron) was incredulous.  But, as a writer himself, he understood K's mentality and chalked it up to K knowing when his scripts were ready to be shared.

Years go by.  Literally, years.  Neither script mentioned at that pitch meeting underwent a rewrite.  Neither script - to the friend's knowledge - has ever even been pitched since.

But, whatever... K's friend (the same fucking moron) talks a director into letting K take a crack at an idea the director has.  K reads the director's existing material, likes the idea, and pitches the director his take on it.  The director loves it.  LOVES it.  So K gets to writing.

Months go by.  Literally, months.  Finally, the director asks a producer to intervene and negotiate a hard delivery date for a draft.  The producer agrees, intervenes, and a delivery is worked out with K.  And then the delivery date arrives.  And passes.  No script.  K asked for another week.  Then asked for another week.  And still another.

Finally, the producer asks K, "Do you even have a draft?"  K says yes.  The producer demands it.  K refuses.  The producer - on behalf of the director - fires K.  The director is upset, but understands.  K, for whatever reason, simply refuses to let anyone see the draft.

Time goes by and it eventually comes out that K never finished a draft.  In fact, K contacted the director a while later and tried to negotiate a new delivery date.  The director refused.  Why?  Because K is a flake.  Stuck in an amateur mentality.  A fucking "writer."  All talk.

Unsurprisingly, the producer won't take K's calls, either.  Not about writing gigs, anyway.  Neither the director nor the producer will recommend K to anyone.  Neither will recommend K's existing screenplays to anyone.  Neither will vouch for K if contacted by third parties.

The dude hadn't even made it physically to Hollywood yet, and he's already screwed himself.

Ugh.  That's all for now.  Come back next time, to read about the dude who had money on the table and got up and walked out.

*Continued in "Writers" - Part 4"

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