Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Hollywood Filters & The Screenwriter's Wingman Part II

You're at a Hollywood Get-Together. Scanning the room, you'll spot three basic types of screenwriter:

Pro's who do it, or have done it, for money.
Wannabe's who work at it and aspire to be paid.
And Posers who haven't written a single word, but "have a lot of really great ideas!"

As we established in Part 1, there are literally hundreds of thousands of scripts floating around Hollywood at any given time, while only maybe a few hundred every year get made. That alone should give you an idea of how many aspiring screenwriters are out there.

Wannabe's/Aspiring Screenwriters as a group would be fine if they'd just stop doing one thing:

Pretending they're pro.

Aspiring Screenwriters have an ironic nack for trying to pretend they're pro and thus being mistaken for posers. What aspiring writers have trouble realizing is that professionals tend to want to help aspiring writers (and you'll learn why in a second). And every agent on the planet wants to be the one to discover that next big star!

In other words, the wannabe's could go a lot further by just being honest.

So why are even the wannabe's treated well? Simple. They're in the minority along with the pro's. Why? Two words:

The Posers.

That's right. Posers. People who claim they're screenwriters because they jotted something down on a napkin once. And they're everywhere. Posers outnumber the Wannabe's and Pro's the way ants outnumber a carcass.

Tell anyone in the United States you're a screenwriter and they'll assume right off that you're a poser. And I hate to admit it, but I can't blame them. Even I do it. For every 100 screenwriters you meet, 95 of them will be posers. It gets to the point where you're actually surprised when you meet a real working wannabe, or "Oh my god!" a pro.

This problem doesn't truly present itself, however, until you become pro. As a wannabe, you feel like a poser so you don't mind when people mistake you for one. But as a pro it just becomes obnoxious when it takes 10 minutes to convince someone what you do for a living.

Personally, I've grown jaded to it... but it still drives my wife and mother crazy.

Person, "What does your son do?"
Mom, "He's a screenwriter."
Person, "Oh, so he wants to write screenplays?"
Mom, "No, he has actually already written a few."
Person, "Oh, so he's trying to sell them?"
Mom, "No, he's already sold a couple."
Person, "Oh, so he and his friends are going to produce it?"
Mom, "No, the producer he sold it to is going to produce it."
Person, "So they're going to do one of those little festival films?"
Mom, "No, it's going to be in theaters."
Person, "You mean like at a museum?"
Mom, "No, I mean at the theater down the street from you."
Person, "You mean like at an arthouse cinema?"
Mom, "No, I mean like at the mall!"

At this point they just stop and stare at my Mother, confused, stupefied as if she had convinced them her son is the Pope and can fly.

My mother on the other hand is ready to tackle them. ...Which is funny if I point out that to picture my parents imagine, "What if Ghengis Khan married Donna Reed?"

Ghengis, "I burned a village today!"
Donna, "I made you a cake!"
Ghengis, "MMM!!!!"

My wife, on the other hand, finds herself inundated with people who don't seem to think her husband works for a living. (As if working must in some way entail working in an office from nine to five.)

Too say I'm jaded, however, is not completely true. It still bugs me when people think I'm a poser... I've just found a solution: That holy of holies, the man with the plan, our Knight in Armani armor.

The Screenwriter's Wingman.

Leaving for a party? Don't go without one. Industry event? Gotta have it. Going to a club? Couldn't hurt.

As a screenwriter, your wingman is the buddy you've dragged along for the sole purpose of hovering within ear-shot, so they can swoop in at a moment's notice to vouch for what you do.

Person, "So Cocles, what do you do?"
Cocles, "I'm a screenwriter."
Person, "Oh, so you want to write screenplays?"
A stranger leans in from a nearby conversation, "He's pro. I got him his Lawyer."
Person, "Oh... OH!!!"

At this point the person's jaw drops and you're suddenly surrounded by a half dozen people who overheard your Wingman.

...Mr. Wingman, you rule.

So as a pro, how do you deal with posers?


Kill em' with questions. Put a big smile on your face and become a little too interested in their career.

Cocles, "Oh you're a screenwriter? Awesome! What have you written?"
Poser, "I've got a couple projects in the works."
Cocles, "Features or shorts?"
Poser, "Uhh... Features."
Cocles, "Wow, two at the same time, I find that difficult."
Poser, "Err, uhh... yeah."
Cocles, "Have anything in development?"
Poser, "Huh?"
Cocles, "Have you sold anything."
Poser, "Oh, uhm, yeah. Both of them!"
Cocles, "Wow, they sold before they were even finished?"

The further you go the more their story will fall apart. (And, word to the wise, If you can't support your own premeditated lie, perhaps storytelling isn't your strongpoint.)

So remember kids, don't let the posers get you down.

And to all my Wingmen out there... I like your style.


Blogger Nicholas said...

Love the story about your mom. Once you get people to believe you're a pro, though, be prepared for them to assume that you're rich. It works that way for books, too. :)

Tue Aug 03, 11:35:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Scotty Two-Shots said...

> Ghengis, "MMM!!!!"

So much funny.

Tue Aug 03, 06:14:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Make said...

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Sat Feb 25, 02:20:00 PM PST  

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