Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Due to the impending holiday, no new posts until Monday. Except this one.

They say that Hollywood is the only place where you can die of encouragement. With rare exception, nobody will ever tell you to your face that your work sucks, unless it's their job to tell you that your work sucks. And even then, maybe not. Don't ever believe anyone who says your work is good. The only time you should believe the words "I liked your screenplay," are if they're immediately followed by, "...and I want to [buy/represent] it." Otherwise, assume the person's being nice, and ignore their opinion.

I've written several short screenplays which have been subsequently turned into short films by some actorly friends of mine. (If writers are a ravening horde of infinite monkeys, what are actors? Peacocks, I suppose.) The peacocks have the time, energy, and flexible schedules to turn a work of words into a movie. This monkey slips in fits of writing between tasks at work and time at home, playing with my kid, playing Sudoku with the wife, etc.

And so it came to pass that the fourth short to be filmed, but the third to be completed (long story), was screened night before last at the Anabelle Hotel in Burbank, at which one of the peacocks tends bar as his day job. Er, night job. Friends and family gathered to witness the latest minisculum opus, and aside from some sound problems, it went okay. Afterward, many congratulations on a job well done were tossed about -- oh, I liked it, oh, it was good, great, ha ha, blah blah blah fishcakes.

Bullshit. I hated watching its utter inconsequentiality -- not true of the first two films. There were a few good lines that got some laughs, but... gah. It wasn't the dialogue or characterization that were bad (although you can only have so much in a ten-minute short), but the story... Gah. No story. Barely anything happens. Nobody cares. I didn't care. I wrote it. I knew at the time I wasn't doing a good job, I just sort of blasted it out in a few hours so that we'd have something to shoot. And now I feel stupid.

Yet nobody told me that it was thin or weak. Actually, one person did: My wife. Back before it was shot. Did I do anything to fix it? No. This qualifies, in the small domain of this film and the things it influences, as catastrophic failure. Yecch.

We're meeting next week to plan the next short, and this time I'm going to write it right. The problem with the last one was not that I didn't outline (I did), but that I didn't make sure it was good before I wrote it. Compelling. Interesting. I didn't spent enough time revising it. I just got it done, did a dialogue pass, and that was it.

If I had a time machine, the first thing I'd do is go back in time and kill Hitler. Then I'd go smack myself for writing this piece of crap.