12/15/2013 0 Comments
My final stop on my journey this year to market myself and my work as a screenwriter is to find someone to help me sell my screenwriting – an agent or a manager. If that doesn’t happen to work out in a reasonable amount of time, I’m going to move on to the next step. But speaking specifically of getting an agent, it would seem that the holy grail of getting a screenplay sold doesn’t rest with them either. As I have read in numerous online articles by people of various professional persuasions, having an agent is only a feather in the writer’s cap. Having an agent will look good on a resume or query letter or pitch – that’s the big thing. Having an agent that will go to bat for the writer day-in-day-out sounds like the ultimate dream.
Living in Canada, my choices are limited in terms of grabbing an agent by the arm and pleading with them to look after me. You would think that nabbing a Canadian agent to handle a Canadian screenwriter would be easier. When discussing getting an agent in the United States with several other screenwriters who live outside Los Angeles, you get a sense of ultimate hopelessness and frustration. I share these feelings. Inevitably, you end up hearing from another screenwriter who insists that moving to Los Angeles is the only solution. At the same time, a failed screenwriter (I mean consultant) chirps in on an online message board dedicated to screenwriting and chastises anyone who cannot commit to moving to Los Angeles. If these people could see us throwing up our hands, shaking our heads and see our blood boiling beneath our veins, they still wouldn’t get it.
These “consultants”, “former insiders”, “former managers” and “script doctors” have such severe cases of tunnel vision that if a flare gun were to go off beside their heads, they still wouldn’t blink. They always say ‘you have to move to Los Angeles if you’re going to make it as a screenwriter. If you’re serious about becoming a screenwriter, you HAVE to move to L.A.’. Balderdash. These people are living in another era when the Model-T was king and Charlie Chaplin ruled Hollywood. The choices that aspiring screenwriters have these days to expose their work are tenfold more adventurous than the days of the quill and inkwell. I’ve heard of screenwriters and producers and agents successfully corresponding by Skype, e-mail, Twitter and Facebook and networking via LinkedIn and InkTip. So don’t tell us we HAVE to move to L.A. It’s bunk.
A lot of these “script doctors” and people of that ilk are also severely out of touch with modern day prospective screenwriters and the economic realities of the world today. They still think we can pull up stakes from Main Street, Anywhere and move to the land of non-reality (both at the drop of a hat and with extended planning). It doesn’t work that way anymore. We can’t just drop by the office of Selznick and casually drop our screenplay on the desk of the secretary with the blond bob and bee-stinged lips. We can’t infiltrate the ‘mail room’ anymore and work our way up, possibly sneaking our screenplay in the ‘in’ box.
A lot of us have families to feed; bills to pay; mortgages to handle; debts that need attention. Do these “script doctors” have any clue that the economy has changed? Some of us aspiring screenwriters can’t afford to take the chance to move to L.A. It could ruin us. We could lose everything that we built up over the years – our life savings for example – by chasing a dream that might not happen. It’s a roll of the dice – throwing darts at an invisible dart board. I’ve heard of people moving to L.A. with a dream and throwing money at it and losing everything, unable to make a go of it. As much as I want to be a successful screenwriter, I don’t want to be a statistic even more.
We understand that it would be physically easier to “do meetings” if we were in L.A. But sorry, the uncertainty of the whole industry and the stability of our livelihoods trump being destitute in L.A.
So I’m urging the “script doctors” and “consultants” to open their minds and take our situation into account before insisting that promising screenwriters mortgage their lives to chase a dream that even they admit is close to impossible to achieving. I know they understand our predicament – they aren’t stupid, I just think they can’t take themselves out of their Hollywood mentality and remove the $ from their eyes.
Michael Moore uses pathos, humour and emotion to point out the foibles in society. This is what he has done his entire career. My first encounter with his film making was with ‘Roger and Me’, seen in a university sociology class. I hadn’t seen any of his work from then until ‘Bowling for Columbine’. Since this film came out, the media’s attention on the alarming increase of multiple-victim gun shootings in the United States seems to have increased ten-fold.
This film is Moore’s crowning achievement. Even though it is a documentary, I still put it in the category of a film because it tells a story and it became the touchstone for so much debate. The animated history of violence in America, backed up against footage from the real shooting is incredibly moving – going from one emotion to the other extreme. Charlton Heston’s appearance is just sad. Dick Clark ends up looking like, well, a dick. This is one of the most important and best documentaries ever made.
Unfortunately, after the success of this film and the strong reaction it brought from gun lobbyists, every film that Moore has made since has been unfairly scrutinized frame by frame because they think he is making things up and not really telling the truth in the true fashion of documentary film making. What they don’t realize is that Moore has created a hybrid style of documentary film making to get his message (or story) across.
It’s sad when Moore has to defend every single line or frame of film by publishing a compendium of attributes to go along with his films (as was the case with Fahrenheit 9/11. It is annoying when critics of his work dissect every frame of his film, looking for something to pick at. They think he’s being serious. Their problem is they don’t understand satire, taking ridiculous situations and blowing them way out of proportion to show how ridiculous they are. The critics are the ones who end up looking ridiculous.
You’ve all seen the circus haven’t you? The little clowns in the little clown cars… the bearded lady… the shyster flogging shady games. Similar characters can be found in the Canadian Senate. Usually, they hide in the shadows with their hands in the Canadian public’s pockets. Now, they openly stand in public and pick your pockets.I know a lot of Canadians are rightly fed up with the waste of their money in the Canadian Senate. I can feel it. It’s palpable. We’re ‘mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!’ Well, maybe it hasn’t gotten that far yet. And the reason it hasn’t gotten that far yet is because we can’t do a damn thing about it. It’s that simple.
The Canadian Senate will never be abolished until the Constitution is changed. Changing the Canadian Constitution is as close to impossible as you can get. Our very bright leaders of the past decided to make the process so convoluted, confusing and impossible that making the effort to do it wears one out by even taking a moment to think about it.
To change the Canadian Constitution (and thus to abolish the Senate), all the provinces have to agree. Ha! Fat chance. It’s always been an ‘us vs them’ mentality that has caused great friction between the provinces and the federal government. Even without putting Quebec into the conversation, it’s always been an enormous task to make the provinces agree to anything. There is another option to change the Constitution with an amendment to abolish the Senate: only 7 provinces need to agree representing 50% of the population.
The ongoing expense scandal should have been enough to send Canadians into the streets with pitchforks and flaming spears. But Canadians are a busy lot. Sure they like to complain about the wasting of money, but their bright forefathers made it so difficult to enact the process to stop the waste of money that I think they have become resigned to the fact that no matter how much they cry out, the Senate being abolished is only a far off dream.
It’s sad really. We are the people. This is our country. This our money being flushed down the toilet by a bunch of elitist sycophants. When I think of all the good places close to $100 million dollars a year could go (hospitals, schools, new jobs, cancer research, etc) – and see it instead being wasted on pigs at a trough, I want to vomit. It should be up to us and instead it is not. We have told the people who represent us that we don’t want the Senate any longer. They aren’t listening to us.
I’m tired of repeatedly bashing my head against a brick wall in the dark world of spec screenwriting – I mean really tired. In fact it’s exhausting. It’s a full time job and I’m not getting paid to do it. Something is wrong with that – I already HAVE a full time job and even that is exhausting. Try fitting in 2 full time jobs in a week (one you’re not getting paid for), going to school part time, eating, sleeping and cleaning up after yourself and you have a recipe for a nervous breakdown. I don’t like nervous breakdowns – I think they’re really over dramatic and selfish.
I sometimes wish that one of the many people that I’ve connected with on any level over the past several years to discuss my screenwriting (in production companies, at contests, in film studios, agents, fellow screenwriters, directors, readers, actors, producers, ‘consultants’, entrepreneurs, students, millionaires) will send me a surprise email one day to say they love my script idea, want to read the entire screenplay (not just the logline), buy it (not just option it) and want to put it into production because they think it’s a really good original story.
However, this is the real world. Sometimes it’s hard to live in the real world, especially in the mystical land of film making. So, I really think that future success for me in screenwriting will be not from networking or selling myself and my work to people in the “biz”. No. Here is how it will go:
Success will come from a completely unrelated, chance meeting with the person who shovels snow from the old lady’s sidewalk down the street whose cat had a seizure and had to be taken to the vet whose car detailer knows of a lawyer who’s defending a shoplifter who hordes cabbages in their garage that had to be torn down and renovated by a company whose owner’s sister is a nurse who treated a boy who fell off his bicycle that was purchased at a flea market organized by the woman who owns the pharmacy that was broken into by a man whose uncle was the mayor who had an affair with his secretary whose nephew just got a job as a janitor in the building that is home to a start-up film production company.
I can see it now…
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