Monday, June 02, 2008

A grain of salt with your podcast

Lately as I planned lessons and graded papers I've been listening to Creative Screenwriting's podcasts from the post-screening Q&As. These are usually great interviews conducted by Jeff Goldsmith with the writers and sometimes the directors or actors involved in bringing the film to the screen.

You should definitely listen to them. They're chock full of information and good jokes. I particularly enjoyed the one from The Forbidden Kingdom, which reminded me that Chinese people have the awesomest sense of humor of all the nations. Some of the films screened have been truly terrific and the resulting interviews have added to my understanding of technique.

But here's the thing. And I get that Jeff Goldsmith is in a tough position here because even if the entire audience loathed the film he still has to pretend it's the greatest work ever or piss off the artist sitting in front of him.

But it still made me a little ill today when I listened to him kiss Uwe Boll's ass after a screening of Postal.

By the way, right at the beginning of the interview some girl brought Boll a bouquet of flowers and called him a genius. I wonder how much he paid her.

Anyway, Goldsmith told Boll he'd like to take his literature class. He lamented that Boll hadn't spent more time showing the world his genius comedy chops. He was just complimenting the man left and right.

Now in Goldsmith's defense, Boll is known to threaten physical violence to anyone who doesn't think he's the biggest genius in film, so there may have been genuine fear going on there.

Still. This happens a lot. Goldsmith never screened a movie that wasn't terrific. I guess in his position even if he hated the film he can't tell somebody to his face that his story blows, but I guess it's the volume of compliments I've heard the man pay to Lions for Lambs, Postal and a few other less than stellar films that makes me question his opinion on the quality of a movie. Then again, he's not a reviewer so why should I care?

And certainly I'm grateful to him for always being polite as hell as he checks us all off and makes sure everybody who can get in gets into the screening and for setting up the screenings in the first place. For that, Goldsmith is an awesome dude. But I wish he wouldn't fawn over films that weren't all that great.

So I guess I'm saying, listen to the podcasts if you don't already because they can be really great, but be prepared to have to occasionally roll your eyes at the sound of how awesome everybody is.


  1. Hey, I agree- but he's doing what any good interviewer would do: make the subject feel safe enough to answer questions. I usually sneak out. Maybe that's a reaction to what I expect the writer to say? Maybe it's based on how well I liked the film, and the last few haven't been so...
    well. Maybe we're just hungry after the movie and we wanna go.
    I gotta say, the Q and A after 'Collateral' was incredible: gossip about what a greedy bastard Micheal Mann was and usually is, the birth of 'Kangaroo Jack' and where the coyote came from.

    See you on the 28th!


  2. I really enjoy the podcasts. I haven't listen to a lot because I've yet to see the movies, but two of my favourites were with Zach Helm (Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium) and Diablo Cody. It's just really interesting hearing everyone's breaking in stories and their writing processes and their experiences in the industry. I know those two specifically helped me refocus when I was getting too caught up making sure I was productive and going at writing in a very mechanical way, not really enjoying it.

    But yeah, I haven't listen to the Vantage Point one because I didn't particularly like the movie or the way it was crafted.


  3. I just view it as Goldsmith isn't a movie critic. He's an interviewer. You don't see Leno rip on a guest's film. I think Goldsmith does a terrific job in what must sometimes be an uncomfortable situation.

  4. No, he's not a reviewer, but he does work for a magazine about screenwriting and everyone in the audience just watched the film. I don't expect him to rip on anybody's film, but I don't think he has to lavish them with compliments for some of the weaker choices they make.

  5. Anonymous11:38 AM

    I liked the Aaaron Sorkin and Simon Kinberg/Jim Uhls one a lot if you haven't done those yet...

  6. But maybe he doesn't share your opinion on the film.

    I don't know if you've listened (or seen live) all of the episodes, but sometimes it's clear he didn't care for the movie. I can't remember specific titles because their have been so many but on a couple of episodes he kept asking his "tough questions" to the point that it was pretty clear he had a low opinion of the film.

  7. That's quite possible Matt, but did you hear the praise he lavished on Boll? Seriously? NOBODY liked Postal.

  8. Don't get testy. Just because we're best friends doesn't mean we're going to agree on everything.

    To be fair, I haven't heard the Boll podcast yet.

  9. Dude that wasn't testy. You haven't seen me when I'm testy.

    Usually because I delete it and say something nicer.

  10. You wouldn't like me when I'm testy. Or when I'm not testy. Or ever.


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