So close, so farawhatthehell?

I remarked to a friend recently that because of the way the movie business is structured, what with its exclusionary practices and disdain for new talent, I actually feel further from my goals here in LA than I did living in Jersey.

And then LA does something completely out of character. I called a production comapny today…

Me: “Hi, my name’s Roger Taylor. I’m calling to see if you have any freelance script reading jobs available?”

Woman who picks up: “Reading… hang on.”

(I sit on hold for 30 seconds.)

“No, it looks like we have 7 readers already, so we’re pretty well full.”

“Oh. Well thanks for checking.”

“Are you a writer?”

“A writer? Yeah.”

“Do you have anything interesting?”

(clearly stalling) “Um…”

“Call me when you do.”

(click.)

Okay, seriously? Seriously? I can’t get a simple reading job, I have to struggle and scrape just to get cast as one of 250 extras for some MTV film no one cares about, none of my writer friends can manage to get an agent, but apparently production companies are so starved for material that they’ll ask random schlubs on the phone if they have any good scripts?

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4 Responses to “So close, so farawhatthehell?”

  1. FelixP Says:

    1) almost anybody can be an extra
    2) many people can read scripts
    3) there’s always room to produce good/interesting scripts

    if you don’t have an affirmative answer for the question “Do you have anything interesting?” then you should have stayed in New Jersey. How is it exclusionary and disdainful of new talent that they don’t have time for scripts that you don’t even believe in? Did you expect them to invite you in, give you a paycheck for 10 years while you find your muse and hone your technique? Bad news, kiddo, this is an elitist business: they only want what’s good and if you don’t think you’ve got it, thousands of other kids from around the world are willing to step up and deliver something.

    There’s a lot of things wrong with my hometown but being based around a business that values quality (at least entertainment quality) isn’t one of them.

  2. Roger Taylor Says:

    To your question: it isn’t. I haven’t even started sending my features around. But I have applied for other jobs, I have sent out some shorts (that I do have confidence in), I have sought advice from more experienced professionals, I have been on many a set and heard many a horror story. And I stand by my comment that the business as a whole is exclusionary and disdainful of new talent. I’m not sure why you would even argue the point when you yourself admit it’s “elitist,” to say nothing of your tone, which is of course condescending and contemptuous.

    and… ALMOST anybody? I’d like to meet these people who can’t be extras.

  3. FelixP Says:

    some people can’t stand still or stay away from the movie stars they’re supposed to ignore when the cameras start rolling.

    “elitism” does not mean disdainful of new talent nor does it mean exclusionary. I’m using it in the sense that they’re not going to give you a job just because you want one and have a script written; it has to at least be good enough for you to believe in it. They’re elitist in the sense that they want the best, whether it’s from some kid just off the bus from NJ or from a producer’s daughter.

    to quote wikipedia:

    “The term elitism is also sometimes misused to denote situations in which a group of people claiming to possess high abilities or simply an in-group or cadre grant themselves extra privileges at the expense of others. This debased form of elitism may be described as discrimination.”

    the reason they might seem exclusionary is because so many people want to be writers. Because the people with scripts outnumber the productions the industry is willing to fund, it favors those people with scripts who are better salesmen; I guess you could say that’s exclusionary to people who stutter when asked if they have any interesting scripts. If you think that’s disdainful of new talent, perhaps you could suggest a better system to accommodate these market conditions.

    I hope you at least read “The Rules of Hollywood” feature in the LA Times sunday magazine. and make sure you see Barton Fink.

  4. Roger Taylor Says:

    I in fact do have a suggestion for a better system. Since a person’s ability to sell himself is in no way correlated with his writing ability, hire enough qualified readers to handle the amount of incoming submissions and get rid of the pitch meeting, which seems to exist solely for the sake of development executives who want to appear busy and proactive. (This does not extend to TV, particularly sitcoms, where pitch meetings serve to size up potential hires who will be spending an awful lot of time with the current staff, and thus had better have a tolerable personality and an ability to think on the fly.)

    I’m not sure where I stated that I expected a job simply because I want one. Perhaps I went about telling the initial story the wrong way. The point is this: every aspiring screenwriter is told that the only way they’ll get anywhere is if they get an agent, and the only way they’ll get an agent is if they get somewhere first. There’s a story floating around about the guy who wrote the script “Instant Karma,” which was in development at two different points by two different studios, but the poor bastard still couldn’t get representation. Every success story involves tremendous luck (as well as perseverance and talent, of course) and every success story is different. There is no path to follow, and things can frequently seem hopeless. So, yes, it was surprising, shocking even, to be asked so off-handedly about my writing when I wasn’t even looking for a writing job. Of course, that may well have been my lucky break and I blew it. But the part where I’m confused is how that then becomes a target for your contempt rather than sympathy, or even pity.

    Are you a Hollywood failure who hasn’t yet learned to cope with that fact? Because that’s how it’s coming across, kid.

    I’ll make sure to look out for peeling wallpaper!

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