Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Smoke in your panties

When I first got to LA, all wide-eyed and hopeful, I met this guy at work who was also a screenwriter. He wrote Saw-like torture porn and claimed to have once been a Nicholl quarterfinalist. I'm still not sure that's true.

He told me he knew these two managers and would love to introduce me to them, so naturally I got all excited and brought him my script the next day with hopes he'd pass it on to his manager friends.

"Oh you don't really want a manager. You want an agent. I know this agent I'll hook you up with, only he's out of town...."

A few months later he told me he has sold a show to a network - or as good as had sold a show, it was really gonna happen any day now - and once he went off to run it he would bring me along as a staff writer.

One night he called me from a bar to tell me these two blonde Russian models wanted to have a threesome with him, but he just loved his girlfriend too much to cheat on her.

And so on.

Once at a party a set PA on Big Love told me he could get my script to the head of HBO. I'm pretty sure he was trying to get into my pants.

I was on the world's worst date once and while I was singing karaoke to avoid the horror, some guy came up and told me he could make me a recording star. He was trying to get my date into my pants, which at this point would not have happened even if this guy had been Justin Timberlake.

Actually if Justin Timberlake spoke to me at all, Justin Timberlake would definitely have been in my pants. But not my date. Ever. I would rather have used my pants as a weapon and strangled him with them.

Anyway, these blow-smoke-up-your-ass people are everywhere in LA. Do they believe the shit they spout? I don't know, but I do know I bought this stuff completely when I first got here. Everybody's just one step away from the big break.

I get why they do it. I met a produced writer the other day and I felt like an ass saying I have screenplays to sell. I sound like every other nobody wannabe in this town with a script in his drawer and a dayjob paying his bills. It sounds way cooler if I just lie to myself and everybody else and tell them a bunch of producers are in talks to buy my latest opus. A little denial may make me feel like I haven't wasted my time.

It can be confusing, though, for someone new to this town. Just like I was completely swept up in the fervor of my former colleague the compulsive liar, I imagine a lot of wide-eyed LA transplants fall for the smoke-up-your-ass types.

So here's how to know if that industry type at the party is the real deal.

1) Is he promising you something? He's full of shit. Every legit insider I've ever met is at best willing to LOOK at your material. They never guarantee anything unless they want to see your underwear.

2) Have they named, unprompted, four or five top executives who are looking at their material? They're probably going to go home and weep on the toilet tonight as they reread their latest agency rejection letter. Most legit people I know don't talk too much about the deals they're trying to make unless you're a close friend who wants to know.

3) Do they talk about how awesome their script is? Most pros I know are pretty humble. I mean, sometimes a douchey writer is an amazing writer, but you don't want to talk to that guy anyway so best keep your distance.

4) Are you hot? Are they drunk? Yeah, they want in your pants. Are you not hot but they're really really drunk? PANTS. I mean, they could have gone home with those two hot Russian models, but you're so smart! You write and stuff! And your racist werewolf/ Mexican zombie love story is so marketable! Take me back to your place and I'll read it right after I take off your panties!

Be on the lookout and keep your pants on. Unless it's Justin Timberlake.

I hope this helps someone.


  1. I agree with all your points. for #1, I know a few insiders (online, though, not in real life) and they would tell me that if I'm ready and have a script ready, they would be "willing" to look at it, but they always said "no promises." They also keep telling me that I HAVE to be sure I have a script that's really good and ready, then they'd give me one chance to look at it.

    I like that, because they're not trying to pull wool over my eyes.

    I agree with point #3, too. I can't stand screenwriters or playwrights (or musicians, artists, etc..) who boast about their stuff and act all arrogant, then when I look them up, they actually have nothing going on for themselves. Losers.

    I don't have to worry about the last point, because a lot of guys always assume I'm gay anyway.

  2. Sometime in February I have a script going into production, I still haven't told my wife about it. That's how paranoid I am...

    This is a town where saying "no" is an art form and optimism in the face of all the negativity still reigns supreme. Yet, everyday I run into somebody who says that, a. they're a screenwriter with scripts out all over town, b. they're a producer who have a boatload of films in "pre-production."

    We all want so bad that we're willing to believe almost anything to see our dreams come true. It's a way of staying alive.

  3. Ohh, the karaoke line, now THAT is national, any guy figures a chick singing, drinks a clinking, the best way to that is to say you can get her produced, represented, whatever. Regardless if she can hold a note or what her job is, the "managers" come out of the woodwork.

    And the old "give me a lot of your cards, my friends...", yeah, wanna use them as coasters? That I chalk up to people just wanting to help, or feel important, or both.

    But a guy claiming he has two blonde Russian models for a trio, but will pass because of his girlfriend? Now THAT'S Hollywood, lol.

  4. Happened to me too!

    I was born here, but By God when I got here, men wanted to get into my panties, too!

    Seriously, being unattractive as a kid has helped me keep an even keel. I am not blinded by shit like this.

  5. For women it is doubly bad when you become a pro writer, too, because then 99.99 percent of people you meet are EITHER trying to get into your pants OR get you to read their script and pass it on to your agent. And if you decline either request, you're the "bitch." Either way, to most folks you meet, you are just a means to something they want. Yaaaaay.

  6. Reminds me of the line I use to pick up strippers. (It's not what you think, honest!)

    I was at a strip club yesterday, because on Christmas night it was the only place I could find to watch the football game that had been hijacked by NFL Network, and when it became apparent to the dozen or so ladies that they weren't going to make any money off the half-dozen or so patrons, one girl invited herself to my table, more for conversation than anything else (at least ostensibly).

    When I realized that this was one of the ones with a brain, I started talking to her about my stripper superhero script, and asked her for an interview. We continued the conversation for a while, and some time later, we both agreed that this wasn't the time or the place for an in-depth conversation, so we traded phone numbers and made loose plans to rendez-vous at a coffee shop some daytime hence, where she would tell every love and horror story she had from her 13 years in the business.

    I've heard this song and dance before. Girl in strip club offers to give you exactly what you want? Yep, you guessed it, she's trying to get into your pants (read: wallet).

    I figure there's about a 30% chance that she (a) gave me her real phone number, (b) answers it and actually schedules a time to meet me for the interview, and (c) doesn't stand me up for the interview itself.

    But hey, in this business, you gotta be cautiously optimistic. If you're not, you'll go insane.


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