Thursday, December 19, 2013

Grump session part II

Yeah, I know I did the self-publishing thing and interrupted it with this, but since blogger screwed up the order of my posts, I wanted to get the rest of the self-publishing together and this post grew too long.

So the guy who hired me called me up to tell me I didn't know what I was talking about because I hadn't had any scripts produced or accepted. Here's the irony - of the few screenplays I have written, I have only tried to get one produced - Mary's screenplay. Now, as a ghostwriter, I have no control over what my employers do with their screenplays once I give them to them. Therefore, if I write a screenplay for someone, they could bury it in their backyard and it would never be produced through no fault of mine. This would be a very expensive way to get something to bury in your backyard, but hey, who am I to judge.

I did not tell Mary to submit the script to a production company, but to a screenplay contest. This is actually the easiest way to get noticed- survive a well-known screenplay contest as long as you can. The script is now in the second round qualifiers (YEAH!), but I am praying not necessarily that it will win but that it will get produced so she can feel justified in the large amount of money she spent on me. If it does win, I will probably step out of my hole and help her try to get someone big to notice it. Shoot, even if it doesn't I might at this point. But I really like Mary - she is a very nice employer.

I have no desire of getting a screenplay produced with my own name on it. If Mel Gibson (the first producer that came to my mind) appeared outside my door and said he had been following my blog and wanted to pay me a quarter of a million dollars to write his next movie, I would not jump up and down with joy. I would probably tell him I did not want that kind of pressure and turn it down unless my husband were there to stop me - I am pretty sure he would stop me from turning down $250,000 for anything. (I asked him - he said his response to me turning this down would be, "I'm sorry, Mel. I know this is kind of backward for you, but I think my wife is drunk.") Please Mel, if you are reading this, do not put that kind of strain on my marriage even for a joke. I am sure you can find much better, inspired screenplay writers than me.

I have worked in the theatre; I love the theatre; I have many friends in the theatre; but I do not under any circumstances want to work in the theatre any more than what I do. I am a dresser not only because I love the challenge of changing a man into a woman in less than 30 seconds, but also because it is one of the few jobs in the theatre that requires the least amount of commitment (unless you want to do it for a living).

Needless to say, this guys comment that I hadn't had something produced and was thereby worthless hit me hard. I was pretty insulted. He certainly wasn't paying me enough at $35 to read through his play and critique it and then insult me afterward. He then told me he never wanted me to edit it (I have it in writing that he did), and he said I didn't give him comments about it. There are at least 3 - 8 comments on every page of his 125 page screenplay - although the last 10 pages or so are sparse in the comment department because I think he should just cut them. I then gave him a 2-page word document of general comments. I asked if he had read all my comments, and he said "no." Why did he hire me if he wasn't going to read all my comments?

I know what I am talking about, and I think that is what irritated him. I told him not only what was wrong, but why it was wrong. He could not say "Oh, no one else pointed that out and thought it was bad, so she must not know what she is talking about" because this is the type of feedback I gave: "You cannot stop using sentences in dialogue. Yes, some responses are not complete sentences and some characters may never talk in complete sentences, but you have most of your characters resorting to speech that is so disjointed it reads like the character took notes about a situation and then decided to read them aloud word for word." This is a fact. He can look at his script and see that, yes, his characters talk in notes, not sentences. 

When I started to read my comments to show him that I had in fact given him comments about the characters, he hung up on me. Yeah, real mature. So, I decided that if he was going to hang up on me AND insult me, he owed me the full amount due, and I invoiced him accordingly. We'll see if he pays or just loses his bragging rights about paying. I am just glad I won't have to come up with reasons why I can't help him with his posters. Perhaps if I had just written: "This entire screenplay needs to be completely rewritten, and I am not available to do it" it would have saved us all some time and money.

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