This week's Answer:
than Fifty Ways to Leave Your Producer
I understand your plight,
Georgette. I've been through similar situations and
all I can say is... I don't recommend you taking any trips
to the top of the Eiffel Tower any time soon. Not
that you would do anything drastic or anything like
that. But even if you do as Newton did when he was
deeply frustrated over a producer not backing his new law
of something-or-other, and, in a rage, threw an apple from
a height, thereby proving that apples can be turned into
applesauce without the use of a press... you could still
hurt someone below. (I think getting hit with an
apple from the top of the Eiffel Tower makes apple
Producers can definitely be
difficult. They also can be exceptionally wonderful
and a delight to work with. Georgette, I'm glad you
don't want to cut anything off except for your
relationship with your difficult producer. (That
could be inordinately painful.) The problem is that,
whenever you bring somebody else in on your project, it's
very likely that they will not have the exact perception
of and ideas concerning it. It would be wonderful if
that somebody did, but, then you'd most likely be working
with a clone of yourself. Which isn't a bad
idea. Eventually, in the future (which isn't as
distant as we thought concerning this arena), we writers
could chose clones of ourselves to produce our
screenplays. In fact, for that matter, we could also
make sure that all the audience members who see our movie
are also our clones, to ensure an excellent
response. And all the movie critics who review our
films could be our clones. What a wonderful
"brave new world" that would be!
But wait. In that futuristic
world of our clones, one element would be missing:
the element of conflict. And it's sequential
sister: resolution. Conflict and resolution...
Those words seem somehow vaguely familiar... Hmmm... Oh,
that' right! They're the cornerstones of
screenwriting! What does conflict often result
in? Change. Improvement.
Collaboration. Synthesis. Somebody getting
shot off a burning motorcycle (well, in some
flicks). So how can we apply this concept to working
with a "difficult" producer?
Shoot him off a burning motorcycle.
A demanding producer can really test
our patience and make us dig deeply for solutions. I
have found that, often, it's worth the price because you
grow as a writer. You find that you can go beyond
your preconceptions and possibly frozen perceptions of
your screenplay and seek, at the same time, to please you and
the producer. I'm not saying it's always easy.
But the fruits of such labor can be truly abundant and
rewarding (and tasty, too).
Of course, there are times when words
come to mind such as "impasse,"
"loggerheads," and "shoot off a burning
motorcycle." When you feel that you've done
everything you can, that, no matter what you do, the
general feeling you feel when you connect with the
producer is anxiety, trauma, or even nausea, then it's
time to take action and, as they say in a lesser known
From Difficult Producers with Difficult Personalities
from Difficult Personalities
"How do you do that?" you
say. Good question. I think Paul Simon answered that
brilliantly in his song, "Fifty Ways to Leave your
THAN FIFTY WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR PRODUCER
1. Stop calling
him, and, when he calls you, pretend to be your butler and
say that you've left on a trip around the world.
2. Take a trip
around the world (and don't bring your cell phone).
3. Change the
number of your cell-phone.
4. Or, if your
cell-phone rings one of its obnoxious ring tones and it's the
producer, pretend to be Chinese and ask what he wants to
order for takeout.
5. Send him an e-mail, telling
him to cease and desist any further communication with you. (If
you have trouble doing that, just pretend he's a
6. If you don't want to burn
any bridges, throw yourself off one (being sure that the producer sees
you make the jump).
7. Or just completely ignore him or her.
Along with this completely unhelpful (yet startling insightful) article.