Chicken or the Egg?
June 26, 2014
Red Lines and Popcorn.
July 17, 2014
Show all

Yes, You Truly Suck.

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

It’s harsh but true. You suck. You’re not as good as you think you are. You lack talent, craft, and most importantly, good sense. Otherwise you’d stop wasting your time and trying to break into Hollywood, settle down, and get on with the humdrum that is your true existential self.

I didn’t always think this way. I had a more egalitarian view of the writers’ world. Early on, as success was beginning to spark in my career, I’d hear agents and producers whisper to me their secrets to discerning a good script from bad.

“How do you get through all those scripts in just a coupla days?” I innocently asked a development pal, whose backpack was so weighed down with his weekend reading that I worried it would permanently injure his already out-of-kilter back.

“Easy. Read the first ten pages,” said an agent friend. “Then the last five. If those are any good, I’ll double back and maybe read the whole thing. Otherwise, I know it’s crap.”

I argued otherwise. That any man or woman who had the moxie to sit down and scribble, pen, type, or even dictate a movie story into a hundred-fifteen pages, bind it with three brass brads, and submit it to the world deserved a thorough and fair reading.

“They’re lucky they get me to read five pages total,” said a movie exec I used to go on pub crawls with. “Facts are facts,” he went on to say, “and ninety-nine percent of screenplays are crap. And I’m not even talking as if crap means not up to studio standards. I’m talking about bad writing, poorly told stories, not a scrap of anything redeeming.”

“You’re just looking for shortcuts,” I countered, still defending all who endeavored to put pen to metaphoric paper.

“I’m just looking for readable scripts,” he argued. “And they are few and far between.”

I wasn’t convinced. I held on to my optimist’s belief for quite some time. Years. Not that I was naïve. Well, maybe I was to a degree. I just couldn’t believe that the percentages were so tilted. After all, how could so many people be so deluded? Not just that, most of those representing the cynical side of the argument—and by that I mean the readers, development execs, agents, managers, etc.—were reading pre-filtered works. The best of the best as presented by the writers’ reps, near all of whom had turned away thousands in search of the few they thought could deliver on their promise.

Then came an actor pal who had a production deal with HBO. He asked if I would come aboard as a producer on a particular project where he was having trouble getting the story right. This, I understood, was a back door way of getting me to write on it. But at the time I was over-committed on other assignments. So, most likely because my ego had been stroked with such deft finesse, I said yes and—lo and behold—became a producer.

What do producers do? Among other duties, they pretty much read an ass-load of screenplays. Stacks upon stacks of ‘em. And when the stacks are depleted, there’s a moving truck outside the office door piled with pallets of unread scripts. Forests worth of wood pulp turned into writers’ movie dreams.

The writing samples messengered to my home office soon began to mound into speed bumps throughout my house. And as I tried to read each and every one, the excitement of producing, not to mention finding the right voice for the damn HBO movie, began to wane under the onslaught of—yes—lousy bloody screenplays. One after the next. From hackneyed to horrible. Sure, there was the occasional flourish. A script with an ear for dialogue but clueless about structure. Or a draft of decent story-telling but with dialogue so sour I’d have rather stuck my tongue into a light socket.

And worse. As the reading and reading and reading labored on, my standards began to seriously dip in hopes of putting an end to the marathon trek.

To say the least I was aghast at the abysmal lack of quality work. Yet despite that one HBO experience, I still wouldn’t yield myself to the bad rap that the average writer gets from all those gatekeepers who have already prejudged ninety-nine point-nine percent of those who deign to call themselves screenwriters.

Fast-forward a few years and, somehow, that HBO story repeated itself. I’d get invited to produce something, I’d dip my toe into the  script swamp, try to read all the screenplays offered from head to tails, only to watch my soul get crushed a little more. My faith was waning in all those fellow word jockeys I’d clock as I ducked in and out of my neighborhood Starbucks. It wasn’t quite the same brotherhood of writing talent as my Utopian self had imagined.

But why? I asked. How could there be so many God awful screenplays clogging the Hollywood pipeline?

Then I started doing the math. I asked myself when was the last time I’d even heard about some wannabe writer trying to scratch out his or her living as a novelist? Or playwrite? Or even magazine writer? Maybe one or two in a matter of years upon years. Yet is seemed just about everybody and his entire familia had a screenplay in a drawer, under the bed, in a file on a hard drive, just waiting to be discovered.

And if not an actual screenplay, who on the planet didn’t have a “great idea” for a movie?

That’s when it gelled. Not just the financials. It was a rather well-known assumption that, pound for pound, screenwriting was and still is the highest paid writing gig, short of the very few who make their living on the New York Times Bestseller list. But beyond that, movies and television have a far greater influence on our social lexicon than plays and novels. As Americans we are, comparatively speaking, mass consumers of both motion picture and boob tube fare. So why wouldn’t one automatically imagine his or her story on screen instead of bound between two covers and parked on some nifty Barnes and Noble bookshelf or a cardboard standee at the nearest supermarket.

In the eighties and nineties there was a significant amount of PR involving spec script sales garnering some unknown scribbler a butt-load of bucks. Penning out a movie began to seem like a better bet than hitting the local 7-Eleven for a bi-weekly Powerball or Megamillions ticket.

Kart Marx called religion the opiate of the masses. Though I would strongly disagree, I might offer a rewrite on his snarky theme. Screenwriting is the opiate of those who dream of being a writer. It promises a great deal of bang for the buck in exchange for what might appear to be a minimum amount of effort.

Essentially, such a large percentage of screenplays suck because pretty much anybody thinks they can pound one or two out of their caffeinated head-hole, cash the check, walk the red carpet, and retire on residuals.

Let me put this in simpler terms. No matter how good you are, it’s hard to get noticed in an ocean full of pretenders.

Not long ago I received a cold-text from stranger who’d somehow gotten a hold of my mobile number. This stranger wanted me to team with him on his bold, movie idea. Instead of my usual polite decline, I got yoked up over who the hell had so cavalierly passed along my phone number to this hustler. He dropped the name of the assistant to a movie director I no longer talk to. Cutting to the chase, I eventually succumbed to the guy’s moxie and suggested he reach me via email. In a matter of hours my inbox dinged with his arriving correspondence. I needn’t waste your time paraphrasing his sales pitch to me. Instead, I will paraphrase my response.

“Thanks for your speedy email. Unfortunately, upon reading it I can understand why you would hope I’d collaborate with you. Is English for your first language? Because before writing a screenplay, being able to form a sentence along with a rudimentary ability to spell would be a good start.”

Like so many, here was a man who dreamed of being a screenwriter. Only he hadn’t the skill or inclination to learn even the simplest fundamentals.

So okay. Maybe I was wrong and you don’t exactly suck in the classical sense. In fact, it’s my deep and abiding prayer that you are the real thing. The next Steve Zaillian or Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. You just may have to work that much harder to invent a way to stand out from that very massive, noisy, and untalented crowd.

Enjoy the blog? Then help keep the pirate ship afloat by clicking on a link and buying one of my thrillers. And they’re cheap. Not tawdry. Just inexpensive. And you could buy two for less than your average cocktail!

Buy it on

Download Chapter 1


  1. jimmytwiz says:

    It’s true, I admit it. But I suck less than I sucked last year. Hell, next year I may actually not suck at all. 😉

  2. Marci Liroff says:

    Welcome to my world. I read up to page 40. If it’s not working by then it’s never going to.

    • Bryan Walsh says:

      Thanks, Marci, for the extra effort. I wish everyone in Hollywood was as giving with their time as you are. The result might be more opportunities for us pre-professional writers and better product at the local cinemaplex.

      • Producer777 says:

        I read over 1000 screenplays last year alone. All the way through. Mostly for contests. Assuming 1% of them were “good enough to produce” would be MASSIVELY generous. There’s a reason producers don’t read past p. 5-10.

        It’s not (for me) about “does something huge” (like an explosion) happen on p. 1. It is (for me) about “can this person put a sentence together in an engaging way (demonstrating a mastery of narrative voice and wordsmithing)?

        Are the character intros more than ‘JANE, hot n sexy with hot n sexy legs dressed in a mini skirt walks down the street.'” (spoiler: MOST character intros are NOT more than that)?

        Is the script proofread to catch grammar, spelling, and formatting errors (MANY scripts are NOT)?

        Are the characters multidimensional and consistent? Does the dialogue sound BOTH fresh and believable? Is the thing cinematic enough to be on-screen at all? (Most of the time, the answers to these questions are NO).

        Quite frankly, we know when we’re wasting our time, and reading an entire script for every wannabe is a MAJOR time waster. Nothing else would ever get done.

        Imagine you spent all day long vacuuming your house. Then your neighbor asked you to vacuum his house. Then your best friend asked you to vacuum his house. Then your mom called and said she needed you to come vacuum HER house. When would you have time for ANYTHING else? And, as with doctors and lawyers, everyone – friends, family, newspaper delivery guys – wants your opinion on their script. So it doesn’t stop when you go home.

        Doug’s totally on point with his statement that scripts just flow in. They do. From everywhere. I’ve been asked to read 14 scripts this week. So far. It’s just Thursday. And that doesn’t count the pre-existing pile. Reading more bad things won’t make more good things come into theaters.

        Slow burns are fine, but GOOD slow burns are well-written. You can’t hang an entire film on the ending, nor can you hang an entire film on the 2nd act. Great writing comes through in p. 1, period, and that’s irrelevant of genre/theme/story. Great writing is apparent immediately.

        Now – that’s not to say something couldn’t have issues in the first 5 and be solid in the end, and just need a brush-up at the beginning. But it shouldn’t be the producer’s job to figure that out on first read. The writer should have gotten notes on the uneven/underdeveloped parts and applied them BEFORE sending it out to the producer.

        • Doug Richardson says:

          Well said. Now, about that offer to vacuum my house…

          • Bryan Walsh says:

            Doug, if you really want/need your house vacuumed I’m sure we could work something out. I also used to be a bartender and make one awesome Old Fashioned.

        • Bryan Walsh says:

          Sorry you’ve got that much thrown on your plate each week. With that being said, thanks for taking the time to come to Doug’s site and share some of your real world experiences. It’s obvious you have little personal time because of your job requirements, so your contribution is greatly appreciated.

    • Doug Richardson says:

      You are a generous soul, Marci. I know pros who won’t go past page 5 if they don’t feel they’re in the hands of an actual artisan.

  3. Bryan Walsh says:

    I understand your Development Pal’s reasoning/ methodology. Every book/article I’ve ready on screenwriting says you need to have a HOOK in the first ten pages. So that’s part of my basic structure when I write. But on the other side of the proverbial coin, think of all the great screenplays your Pal would have missed; The Sixth Sense, American Beauty, Forest Gump, etc. These all build slowly. Even Die Hard, which is considered a milestone in the action genre, starts out pretty slow; McClain on the plane, Miss “Genero” discussing her husband/holiday plans.

    I understand studio people don’t have a lot of time, but this is the equivelant of going to a doctor for a physical, and he weighs you then grabs you by the short & curlies and tells you to cough, then gives you a clean bill of health and sends you on your way. A lot of things will be missed.

    • Doug Richardson says:

      Agreed Bryan. But don’t forget what those scripts had going for them. They were readable. Enjoyable. Penned by talented craftsmen. And, I’ll bet, most of the words utilized were spelled correctly.

      • Bryan Walsh says:

        Dug, your probbablie rite on taht pointe.

        • paul says:

          The grab them within the first five pages rule has also spawned a whole stream of scripts that start with useless irrelevant car chase/explosions. Insecure with just telling a good story, many have peppered their scripts with irrelevant action scenes. I actually hate action scenes the most because they’re just a bunch of running, kicking, punching and explosions. Unless it’s central to the plot, those scenes usually bore me.

          • Bryan Walsh says:

            I agree, Paul. I believe the trend started with Lethal Weapon 2. But I don’t make the rules. I just try to write a good, compelling story, while trying to follow them.

  4. Stacy Chambers says:

    I hung onto a similar POV until I was hired to read screenplays for a contest and review books for a website. Wow oh wow. Eye-opener.

  5. Steven Axelrod says:

    Writing is hard and any one who thinks it’s a get-rich-quick scheme needs to take a moment and rethink their life plan. I worked on my little mystery with two professors at my MFA program — one of them an Edgar winning mystery author — and it still took six drafts with an actual editor before the book was ready to publish. If you’re in it for the money, get an MBA.
    Nathan Bransford, agent-turned-children’s-book author, posed this question on his blog: if you knew you would never be published, would you keep on writing? Most of the commenters tried to knock down the premise — “How could you ever kow a thing like that?” etc. Well … t’s a hypothetical, douchebags. That’s supposed o be your business, as a writer. Of fiction. Whatever. It’s telling that these people were so afraid to deal even with the question — much less the answer. The great writers don’t flinch from it. William Faulkner famously said that writing should be a hobby. “By profession, I’m a farmer.” He thought all writers should have a real job.
    And he wrote some good movies, too.

    • Doug Richardson says:

      Thanks for the words, Steven. And your thoughts with them. There’s wisdom in there.

  6. […] Doug Richardson To Screenwriters: “Yes, You Truly Suck” […]

  7. Lisa Kothari says:

    Great article. I listened to a producer discuss his method for reading spec scripts – he said the first page must have someone saying something amazing and someone doing something amazing for him to read further. You had a one page shot with him. If he turned that page, he would read to p. 3, if he was still interested he would read to p. 10 – and if he was sill interested at that point, he would read all the way through. I thought that was fair.

    I’ve always been a writer – and am always writing and hoping to suck less and less with each draft I undertake, with each new concept I outline – just keep going! And have fun along the journey always!

    • Doug Richardson says:

      Appreciated Lisa. And agreed. As well with the producer. Your job as a writer is to make them turn the page. And that starts on page 1.

  8. Gerren Crochet says:

    Thanks for another thoughtful parable on our industry, Doug. Been a fan for a while. I’m a young indie film producer and I can report a similar slog through the detritus down here at the bottom of the ladder! But — rather than jolt you with stories of how it’s worse than you think, I actually want to tell you how good it is. Because in my limited time, I’ve actually read enough to have FOUND some of those 1% scripts, and hoo-boy is it worth it. I don’t mean that in a gold prospector sort of way, either, but as a young professional cutting his teeth by finding the best and brightest writers of my generation. Long way to go, but there really is some gold. The thing I guess I most want to point out apropos of your post, is that “writers” write, and real producers “produce”; that means, if all those cynical pros who give it a page here and there and wait to be roused just can’t seem to find arousing material, then perhaps they should have chosen alternative lines of work. At least, that’s where I am now, in my “back-when-I-was-naive” world view. What’s the old saying about if it were easy? I think that counts for producers/readers too!

    • Doug Richardson says:

      Great to hear, Gerren! Glad to know there are still producers who look for quality and are willing to spend the grueling work.

  9. John Thacker says:

    Enjoyed the post as always Doug. Can’t help but note that the people you describe remind me of the “artists” and musicians I’d encounter in the course of one of my previous ventures. Thought you might enjoy the way I’d describe these people. They’re “artists” the way that I’m a golfer. I know the game pretty well, like it a lot, and occasionally look like I know what I’m doing. But would anyone in their right mind pay me to do it? The issues are (a) lack of talent; (b) lack of dedication; but (c) no lack of bs. Afraid there are a lot of delusional people out there. BTW, too bad about the week the Giants had, eh?

    • Doug Richardson says:

      Well, John. I can surely vouch for your golf analogy, having seen some of your earliest work. That said, yes. The world is full of deluded dreamers dreaming big dreams about themselves. Thus, I reckon, a future blog about malignant narcissism.

  10. VirtualBondGirl says:

    Back when I was an assistant with a heavy weekend read pile, I’d go with the first 30 and last 10 pages. Unless the writing made me want to poke my own eyes out with a spoon…then I’d just give up. Aaaah the good ol’ days.

    • Doug Richardson says:

      VBG. I haven’t tried to gouge my eyes out with a spoon. Don’t want to either. But let me know how that goes when you finally go through with it.

  11. Kristine Smith says:

    How did those scripts manage to find their way onto someone’s desk? Did the writers have representation? I ask because I had always heard that you couldn’t get a reading w/o an agent, and vice versa. IOW, it was damn hard.

    • Doug Richardson says:

      Screenplays are like little bunnies mating. They make more scripts. They prosper in dark places and show up on your desk after you leave the room.

  12. John Thomas says:

    Yes, it’s true, most screenplays suck. And one of the best ways to both recognize that and learn the craft better is to read unproduced screenplays. Not the really bad ones – there’s just too much wrong to learn much from them. But the mediocre ones, the ones from people who can execute the basics, and struggle with going from fair to OK to good.

    And like jimmytwiz said, for us screenwriters, we do mostly suck, but as long as we suck less than last month we’re heading the right direction (I think a year is too long to gauge myself – need to work on getting better continually).

    I network a lot with aspiring screenwriters, and it surprises me how few people regularly go to classes, or read, or otherwise strive to continually improve their craft. I’ve had some look down on me for reading and going to classes, telling me that the way to become a better writer is just to write alot and get feedback. Yes, we absolutely have to write. And feedback is critical. But if we’re not seeking the feedback of experienced writers and executives and coaches that comes in the form of books and articles and classes and tools, we hamstring ourselves. We have to do keep doing our homework.

    Doctors don’t get better by just doing surgeries until the patients stop dying on them – they study and learn from other doctors who know what they’re doing *before* they ever get in a life-or-death situation. If we want to be professionals, we have to study and learn from others too, and we should do that *before* we blow our chance to get a script in front of a someone that can make-or-break our career.

    I’m also surprised at how many actors, producers, directors, you-name-it say they “also” write. They may be awesome writers, and I’d guess plenty of them are better writers than me. But anyone who says they’re X “but I also write” may not giving enough credit to what it takes to not just “write” but write *well*.

    I’m not ranting here (not that I don’t occasionally do that, but…) OK, maybe a mild rant, but a tough love rant, and including myself in it. I’m really just saying screenwriting is damn hard. That’s not a bad thing – in fact, that’s one of the things I love about it the most. And that’s also the thing that allows those who DO put in the effort to rise above the noise of those who don’t (in business terms that’s called a high barrier to entry – embrace it as a good thing). But anybody that doesn’t recognize that – and doesn’t look at what they wrote and seriously worry that it sucks – is probably living in the land of wishful thinking. Yes, our writing sucks. Now make it better.

    We have to assume that IF we do the work to get someone to read our screenplay, we have 5 pages OR LESS to get their attention. I’ve heard some producers say they can tell within only *1 page* if they’re in the hands of a professional. So instead of worrying about the fact that they won’t give us a full read, we just need to make damn sure the first 10 pages are great, the first 5 pages are even better, and the first page is absolutely riveting. NO ONE is obligated to read our stuff, no one *owes* us a read – we have to write well enough that they can’t put it down even if they’re looking for an excuse to.

    So if it’s not good enough to keep them from taking a potty break, we have more work to do. And that never-ending work, in my view, is a big part of the fun.

    • Doug Richardson says:

      Wow, John. That was almost a blog in itself. Thanks for jumping in and adding to the can of whoop ass (or worms) I apparently opened.

  13. paul says:

    I don’t know Doug. You might have been too hard on that guy. At one point you were an aspiring writer too and would have been crushed if you received that reply.

    Screenwriting is hard. There’s a steep learning curve. I was slipped a script written by this well known pitch artist that sold a lot of pitches. He would stress how important quality of writing was. Apparently his pitching skills didn’t translate to his writing because that draft was terrible. I also had the chance to read a guru’s script and it failed to meet the rules he preaches. However, just because you write something doesn’t mean you can’t improve. I read this draft….OK I read the first fifteen and skimmed the rest and it might have been one of the worst I’ve ever read. Fast forward five years later, I see her listed as a supervising producer on a hit show. The episodes she wrote were quite good.

  14. Shinobi Jedi says:

    I used to read for a Best Picture winning Producer too, so I don’t doubt your claims. Can you give any advice on how to get read at all? I’ve got a Goonies meets The Last Starfighter franchise starter that’s been sitting in the unread pile for over two years at a dozen major production companies at least. I have no aspirations other than to sell it and let them change it as they see fit. I’d happily bank my work on a ten page test. Even a one page test. But when it’s been so long without an answer, even a pass feels like progress. It’s hard not to be cynical when you’re trying to provide what’s requested: “Something that’s a proven success but with a fresh spin.” And you sit for two years with no answer at all, unemployed and unable to find a job inside or outside of the industry.

    Now I’m being advised to adapt my script into a novel, just to get them to see the story more as an IP and consider it. The thing is, I’m not in this to be a writer. I’m an aspiring filmmaker who was lucky enough to go to a respected film school, whom only has a head for big mythic/tent pole type stories and told by peers and employers and teachers that I have a knack for writing those kinds of stories.

    I guess what I’m saying, and you’re saying is, I should go sell insurance right? Right.

    State Farm, here I come!

    • Doug Richardson says:

      Can’t answer that for you, Shinobi. But I figure if a Jedi doesn’t know his own limitations…

      • Shinobi Jedi says:

        You mean limitations like not having strong enough representation? 😛

      • Shinobi Jedi says:

        I guess what I’m saying and being too cheeky about it is; from my understanding, they don’t read original high concept scripts originally written for the screen at all anymore. Only books or comics. At least not until the property has already been sold and being developed or ready to shoot. Again, specifically I mean for original high concept properties.

        As it was explained to me by reps and peers that are working, the gatekeepers don’t read original for the screen big properties anymore because of job security risk. Because say, a gatekeeper who works for a prominent A List Director recommends a project enough that it makes it all the way to the screen and fails or underperforms. What has more job security to the gatekeeper? Saying, “I recommended the story because the novel/comic/video game sold x number of copies”? Or, “I recommended the script because I really believed in the story.”? So even if they like it, no matter how good it may be, they won’t go forward with it because they only have their opinion to back it up and no sales data to show a built in audience to minimize risk.

        If that’s true, therein lies the real problem. Where would we be today if that was the mentality in the 80’s and we didn’t have all those franchises from then to recycle today?

        The system, by nature of the growing costs of the tentpole, has made an original story for the screen by a new talent virtually impossible.

        I think if true, that’s where the true limitation lies, no?

        • Doug Richardson says:

          It is a true limitation. And very frustrating to fight the fear factor. But it is cyclical. Movie studios don’t make movies presently. They are in the franchise business. So there are other ways to make originals. Producers with access to funds, etc. This is the present biz.

          • Aaron C says:

            Perhaps too many are looking for the million-dollar payday. Not being entirely familiar with the business, but seeing the demand for content everywhere, my hope is that my small stories about people in interesting circumstances will find filmmakers that want to make those kinds of movies. And while that market might not be the Hollywood comic-crazed, big-action market, I am hoping someday my writing will provide an OK standard of living and that I can do what I love instead of sitting at a cube all day subject to a boss and the 9-6 corporate world. That’s my hope at least. If Hollywood doesn’t want to buy your high-concept script, perhaps an independently-financed company would love to have it.

  15. Phyllis K Twombly says:

    I keep on being found by people who want to be writers but have no interest in spelling or grammar. They’re looking for shortcuts to fame and fortune. I’ve yet to find more than one would-be writer who respects the craft enough to learn the basics. Since he’d done the real work the writing sample he sent me only contained a minor violation of his genre. We fixed it and I wish him well. He’s earned it.

  16. Chris Jones says:

    Doug you may have seen this – its a chain of emails between an Exec and writer. I was copied in at each stage as I was part of their introduction. It’s a car wreck. Whats fascinating is how many people in the comments declare that it must be fake and I made it all up. Cautionary tale for self righteous creatives who believe the world owes them an audience.

    • Bryan Walsh says:

      Wow, Chris. That was painful just reading it.

      • paul says:

        Or maybe someone’s just punking the producer. 🙂 Almost sounds like a Will Ferrell like character pestering the producer. Some overlooked intern probably wrote that as a prank is sitting back laughing watching the producer’s reaction from the window.

    • Doug Richardson says:

      Jeez, Chris. It reads like conversations I’ve had. This is another reason I don’t read unsolicited material.

      • Chris Jones says:

        I agree Doug – it was at an event that this writer approached my guest and I suspect normally, he would not have read it, but because there was some relationship and context, he agreed. And he actually wanted to help this guy too, that’s the saddest part.

    • JazzyJZ7 says:

      Wow Chris! After reading this I realize that before I push my jewel of a screenplay, I’m going to rewrite it at least a half-dozen more times. What DOug wrote above and your email example, have changed my opinion. I have to agree with producers NOT accepting my script other than through a vetted, professional channel.

  17. Steven Axelrod says:

    It’s hard to get a toe-hold at the studios, even if some random story analyst likes your work.This is how one development explained things to an underling she fired for going above her head with a script he liked:

    “I will share with you the precipitating incident. Travis Conklin came to me last
    week and told me he had read ‘Escapade’. A copy of the script you had
    given him socially.”

    “Did he like it? He never got back to me.”

    “He didn’t think it was appropriate for this studio. Or any studio. And he paid me
    quite a compliment. He was impressed that I had so decisively rejected what he
    referred to as a ‘chick flick’. He said, ‘Elaine, you think like a man.’ I was
    very pleased to hear that. He further told me that the department was going to
    be in very good hands during my stewardship.”

    “Stewardship?What is this? Yosemite National Park?”

    She ignored him. “None of that is the point. Travis could very well have agreed
    with you and over-ruled me, which would have been a nightmare for everyone. You don’t seem to understand that. In fact, you’ve never really understood the
    nature of your work here. Lucy tells me you and your wife like to walk in the
    canyons. Have you ever seen the wooden walls the city has constructed on the flats below the big ravines? They’re called debris basins. Their function is to catch and bottle up any landslides caused by excessive rainfall. They protect the houses below.”

    “I’ve seen them. What about them?”

    “They have the same job you do. You protect the rest of us from the avalanche of … of muddy rubble that pours into this studio from every agent and
    independent producer in town. Your job isn’t to pick out this or that bit of
    the debris and say ‘Oh my! This chunk of rubbish may have some geological
    value!’ Your job is to contain it. That’s all. You’re lumber, Michael.
    You’ve never been able to accept that.”

  18. Aaron C says:

    “Kart Marx” – obviously a plagiarist if he claims he wrote the phrase usually attributed to Karl. 😉

    Two things give me hope in light of this blog post:
    1) The fact that I understand the sheer (sometimes overwhelming) amount of work I have to do in order to complete/rewrite the two screenplays I’ve started means I am somewhat grounded in reality.
    2) The fact that I do have a window of opportunity — *someone* will read my first five to ten pages, and I have a chance to hook them in that space.

    • Doug Richardson says:

      Very proud of Kart Marx. I’m always quick to correct the typos which get by me. But I’m so amused by Kart Marx that I’m going to leave it.

      Also, Aaron. Like you’re attitude.

  19. […] It’s harsh but true. You suck. You’re not as good as you think you are. You lack talent, craft, … […]