The Theory of Chaos

Friday, January 12, 2007

This sounds like nothing. But it FEELS like something, and in Hollywood, that MAKES it something

There's a development exec I know in Hollywood who is not, as his job title might suggest, a thundering idiot. And remember I used to do that for a living so I'm not just talking into my beer mug here, I've seen it up close. But this gentleman has actually seen movies that came out before 1980, and has an instinct for the components of story that runs deeper than the jargon-y Robert McKee garbage most of them sputter. Whenever I've got anything new he's one of the first people to see it - because I trust that he's a fan of mine, he won't leak it around town, and he'll have something to say which will make my work better. Writers: when you find people like this, keep their phone number, they are vital to you.

He's read my new script. He spent 75 minutes on the phone with me today talking about my new script. And Jimmy, I think he likes it. A lot. He couldn't believe that when I called it a first draft, I actually meant it - that after proofreading this was literally the first version of the story written from start to finish. "First drafts" are a funny creature in Hollywood parlance - sometimes because we lie like hell to create the impression that something is new and hot, and sometimes because someone doesn't want to pay you for the seven re-writes they made you do. But this is a gen-yoo-wine first draft, and I know he wasn't blowing smoke because the questions and criticisms he did have were second and third level stuff - putting a quarter-page here to establish a prior relationship between characters, rethinking this stretch for perspective on why that character makes that choice at that moment, etc. The big stuff, the foundation stuff, he accepted. The "STORY", in all its white skeletal glory, is there.

This is good - not in the "Nick's going to pay off his car loan at any moment" category, but in the "Nick might actually have something good to get his name out there with once again", category. And more crucially, I've got someone who is making serious mouth noises about championing it for me. No one believes a writer when he tells you his script is good - and why should you? But when an executive/budding producer vouches for it, puts his passion and his Rolodex behind it, that gives it a different credibility.

In the absence of money, which no one in Hollywood wants to give you anyway, you have to learn to take nourishment from moments like these.


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