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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

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This week's question: 

I really want to tell a producer to go to... I won't say it, but it's a place with double hockey sticks and it's very hot all the time.  Really, I'd like to just cut off my relationship entirely with her -- but the problem is money is involved.  Do you have any words of wisdom to help me?

Georgette J. from Paris


This week's Answer: 

Less 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 strudel).

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.

Problem solved.

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 12-step meeting...

Detach From Difficult Producers with Difficult Personalities

Sorry...

I mean...

Detach 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 Producer."  

LESS 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 creditor.)  

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.

DcH


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