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Every wonder why most Hollywood movies completely stink?
July 18, 2002 4:11 PM   Subscribe

Every wonder why most Hollywood movies completely stink? It's 'cuz all the decent writers get put through the wringer like this guy, and give up. He hasn't given up yet, and does seem to at least be getting a lot of free Evian at the production companies pitches at.
posted by GriffX (21 comments total)

 
It's by turns a dis-heartening / hopeful read as this anonymous screenwriter gets jerked around by agents, execs and d-people.
posted by GriffX at 4:13 PM on July 18, 2002


Looks like he may well have given up - the site was last updated over a year ago. You'd hope that even if he had hit the high-roller scene with a vengeance he would have said, "Ciao."
posted by MUD at 4:25 PM on July 18, 2002


Many are called. Few are chosen.
posted by Postroad at 4:46 PM on July 18, 2002


As a writer moving to LA in September, everyone seems to assume that I must write screenplays. I am so incredibly thankful that I don't, and this website reconfirmed why I write for newspapers and magazines รข?? not movie studios.
posted by arielmeadow at 4:59 PM on July 18, 2002


His credibility in everything he says on that site depends on whether his scripts are any good. I'll believe he's getting "jerked around" when I believe that he isn't a complete waste of time for every person whose doorstep he darkens.
posted by bingo at 5:46 PM on July 18, 2002


I'll believe he's getting "jerked around" when I believe that he isn't a complete waste of time for every person whose doorstep he darkens.

Right, because if he had talent, he would already have a bunch of hit movies, right?
posted by GriffX at 6:43 PM on July 18, 2002


Right, because if he had talent, he would already have a bunch of hit movies, right?

Everyone sing now: "One of these things is not like the others..."
posted by ColdChef at 8:02 PM on July 18, 2002


it's an extremely rare circumstance for someone with a piles money to want to make a piece of art with any real cultural resonance.

the first and foremost goal is making your investment back, second is the gamble to make that investment make some cash on top of itself. hence: lowest common denominator entertainment to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. sometimes that formula works (first-generation reality programming), sometimes not (eddie murphy vehicles).

only occasionally does an artist get an opportunity like, say, peter greenaway. his situation is more like a patron/artist relationship: he agrees to make one commercially accessible film (the pillow book) for every art piece (prospero's books).
posted by patricking at 8:19 PM on July 18, 2002


You thought "The Pillow Book" was commercially accessible? Let me share this movie equation with you:
Ewan McGregor's ropelike penis = Not a summer blockbuster

Don't get me wrong...I LOVED "The Pillow Book", but I don't expect my mother to have heard of it. And isn't that what we mean when we say commercially acceptable? Our mothers' knowledge of it?
posted by ColdChef at 8:38 PM on July 18, 2002


no. we mean that the piece has traditional narrative content. your mother may not have heard of it, but at least she'd understand it on some level.

prospero's books, on the other hand...that's a different story.
posted by patricking at 8:52 PM on July 18, 2002


Any real cultural resonance? I bet almost every producer out there would like to make a movie with real cultural resonance. Resonance = many asses in theatres, dollars in pockets, bling bling. It's just not easy to make such a movie.

There's really no way to judge whether he's getting hosed or not. I admire his energy, enthusiasm, courage and appreciate a lot of the information on the site -- but I can't exactly decide whether it's an injustice that he's not a successful screenwriter when there aren't any screenplays to read. I mean really, slam Hollywood all you like, but are you a automatically a decent screenwriter just because Hollywood hasn't made any of your scripts into movies?
posted by frenetic at 8:53 PM on July 18, 2002


no. we mean that the piece has traditional narrative content. your mother may not have heard of it, but at least she'd understand it on some level.

You don't know my mom. But, okay. I see your point. Carry on.
posted by ColdChef at 8:56 PM on July 18, 2002


Every wonder why most Hollywood movies completely stink?

The majority of moviegoers, at least in the states, are teenagers. That's why!
posted by mrhappy at 10:29 PM on July 18, 2002


Griffx:Right, because if he had talent, he would already have a bunch of hit movies, right?

...you provide links to Armageddon, and the guy who wrote Batman and Robin. Not sure how sarcastic you're being with those. I'm not saying his lack of success means a lack of talent...what I'm saying is that his lack of success is not necessarily caused by the continuous non-recognition of his talent...when after all, we don't really know if he has any.
posted by bingo at 10:59 PM on July 18, 2002


prospero's books, on the other hand...that's a different story

A story about a stinking turd of a pretentious movie. And my god, have you seen the cringe-worthy disaster of his Dante's Inferno?
posted by Zurishaddai at 11:13 PM on July 18, 2002


P.S. For the record though, I did like "Drowning by Numbers."
posted by Zurishaddai at 11:15 PM on July 18, 2002


Don't forget that even F. Scott Fitzgerald found that literary genius is not the same thing as being able to write for the movies. I also think it's far too sweeping to say that expensive movies are necessarily devoid of cultural resonance; a better term might be "serious art film". Entertainment-oriented iddlebrow though they may be, films like American Beauty have tremendous cultural resonance. (Even trash can, but then we're talking irony and social approaches to art.) Even at the most rarefied level of indie film-making, economic factors like getting a decent cast and production values can have tremendous importance. Hardly anybody makes a film to go broke, and the less money you have the less you want to end up broke.

It's too bad we can't judge this guy's work, but I bet it has little to do with actual talent. Movie-making is a hugely collaborative art form and what the writer puts on the page is often of surprisingly small importance. Sometimes it just has to do with having, say, a military screenplay floating around when a military movie has just done well. See, for example, K-19, which is actually based on a National Geographic article and book. The screenplay seems to have some structural problems, and there were disputes over historical accuracy with the survivors, and perhaps even it's true that Neeson and Ford had little on-screen chemistry. The project itself came together in a rush before the rumored writers' strike last year. But Ford seems to have given a bravura performance, which may well open and carry the film. It's already given the screenwriter the shot at a potential Oliver Stone summer blockbuster -- which itself probably came together as a result of Gladiator. It's a cruel, capricious business; you're only as good as the last thing you've done; and it grinds your idealism up like sausage. But some people can't stay away.
posted by dhartung at 11:43 PM on July 18, 2002


Can't say I cared for the page. I know this is just his weblog and I don't have to read it, but the page just reminds me that I really hate it when I meet people who say "I've written this great script but I can't tell you what it's about. And I've shown it to some important people but I can't tell you who they are," and they somehow talk on and on without actually telling me anything. Like if you can't tell me anything why are you telling me about it.

Would it kill the guy maybe to indicate what genre his scripts are like, or to include any original writing, or maybe discuss scriptwriters he admires or film art in general?
posted by bobo123 at 12:34 AM on July 19, 2002


Most Hollywood movies stink because they are mad for an American public. They get what they want.
posted by knutmo at 12:35 AM on July 19, 2002


Here's what I tell my screenwriter friends: Novelize it. Write a halfway decent novel that gets a few good reviews, and Hollywood beats down your door. You'll get calls from people who wouldn't let you park their car if you'd've written a screenplay. They'll tell you you're a genius and treat you like a king. You'll be wined and dined and you'll get a deal and the picture might actually get made. Now do as I tell you: Take your screenplay. Hold it up in front of you. See all those little white spaces between the dialogue? Fill 'em in with prose. You're on your way...
posted by Faze at 10:53 AM on July 19, 2002


Ever wonder why most Hollywood movies completely stink?

one of the main reasons is because so many people think they can just sit down and write a screenplay. just like so many people think that they can be actors. many of these people have little or no training and/or talent. throw a rock in L.A. and you'll hit either a "screenwriter," an "actor," or "actor/screenwriter" (or, if they're trying to get laid, a "producer" or "filmmaker").

and another main reason is because people are far less concerned with making something that they believe in than someone that will make them money.

also (sorry to go on), by the time a script makes it to the screen, it has usually been tinkered with by about 14 different people.
posted by witchstone at 11:49 AM on July 19, 2002


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