Friday, April 03, 2009

Doubt - the feeling, not the movie

Dave Shepherd posted a stream of consciousness thing about doubt over at Wordplay and I was pretty pleased with my response so I'm gonna do a twofer and post that shit right here.

Three years ago I met this guy at the Expo, right after I'd move to LA and knew next to nothing about anything. He agreed to look at my latest work and was cool enough to pass it around his management firm to three different readers. He passed me the coverage, which was polite but overwhelmingly negative. I thanked him and then went away to become a better writer.

So now that I have a script I'm proud of, I emailed the guy and asked if he'd like to take another chance on me. I felt very confident that this time, he would be impressed with my genius.

But then the other night it suddenly occurred to me that he might send me back three pieces of coverage universally panning my script and he might tell me I'm obviously a horrible writer and please never contact him again, because in three years I didn't get any better so clearly I never would. Go back to North Carolina, Emily, and prepare to spend the rest of your life teaching literary terms to small town kids who see no problem with praising Jesus at an assembly to commemorate 9/11.

And then I ate a chocolate bar and washed it down with chocolate milk and then because I felt guilty I lifted all my weights and did cardio until I collapsed in a river of failure tears.

Okay not really, but I did have a moment of intense panic.

Then I realized that was silly because I do not suck. And if this guy thinks I still suck, well, so be it. I'm not giving up.

Anyway, that's not what I posted on Wordplay. This is what I posted on Wordplay:

It's a completely arbitrary field. What one person thinks is genius other people might think is garbage. The gurus all disagree on style and structure and one person says there are really strict rules you absolutely must follow but working screenwriters always say screw the rules! Except some rules! Unless you feel like you don't need the rules!

It's confusing.

Then, even if you write the best screenplay ever and you sell it for a bazillion dollars, you still might be fired for doing everything right.

And even if you're not fired, the director might hire the wrong actor or Harvey Scissorhands will chop your film into an unrecognizable mass.

And even if the movie comes out, hey even if you win an Oscar, there's no guarantee you won't be homeless and begging for a job waiting tables three years from now.

So yeah, I think if you're not filled with at least the occasional doubt you're an idiot.


  1. Well said. I was thinking the other day what if a complete stranger wrote "Syndechoche New York" (which I just saw... ehhh it was so-so), it would probably have never gotten picked up by anyone. Or what if an unknown wrote "The Darjeeling Limited," people would tell him that it was an okay script but that there was really no plot and that he'd be better off washing dishes.

    it's all about being subjective.

  2. Tell me about it. This business is such a crapshoot, we're all a little nuts.

  3. 1. crapshoot and nuts. Damn straight.
    2. All we have is words on paper. In a way, being an actor would be easier and harder: we don't get judged on our looks, although for some, it'd help.
    3. It's a crapshoot. You look at the spec sales and say, seriously, WTF? AND THEY WILL FUCK IT UP. I know that. I have a DVD you can watch.
    somebody's gonna call and say, I like the cut of your jib. Come by the office; we'd like to make your car payments for a while.
    4. Going back to the same guy isn't such a good idea. Obviously his friends are members of the 'My-Taste-Is-In-My-Ass Club'. Call me.

  4. What if you're ALWAYS filled with doubt?

  5. If you're ALWAYS filled with doubt, you should take up kickboxing and yoga.


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