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A bit of Hollywood humor 



Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

Updated every Monday, one selected e-mail will be posted and answered here each week. With many years of experience in the film and television business, I look forward to providing answers to your questions (often with a humorous eye) about screenwriting or the entertainment industry in general.  Please send your e-mailed questions to: Script Advisor.  You may also wish to visit our Screenwriting Help E-Mails - The Archives.

This week's question: 

I just got some information about the state of the film industry and how gloomy it looks, and I started thinking, "What's the use?  Why write a screenplay if I can only make so little and get bossed around by all the big shots in the industry?  It does look pretty bleak for first-time writers.  Do you have any advice, DCH?

Cary from NH

This week's answer: 

Guarding Yourself from the "Crossing Guard"

Every now and then, as you're making your way on a particular path, you're going to encounter a naysayer (not "neigh" and it's not usually a horse.  Not that it couldn't be a horse.  It's just that the naysayer usually comes in some kind of human form.  Unless it's a horse that has an issue with you.  You have to wonder if Silver might have had one with the Lone Ranger, he always riding Silver hard and being shot at, risking Silver also being shot.  And what was all that "Hi-o, Silver" malarkey?  Silver had to have gotten really tired of having that shoved in his ears all the time.  "Hi-o, this!")

The naysayer can almost be seen as a crossing guard, holding a sign that says "go back the way you came.  Turn around immediately.  Doom ahead."  And many do take the crossing guard/naysayer's advice and do a 180 and head back the way he or she came and never continue on towards their original destination, at which there is plenty of reward and good things awaiting someone who reaches it.  

Now, this naysayer is usually quite convincing and often implies or outright tells you that he is on your side and is looking out for your good (and he actually might think he is -- in a deluded sort of way).  Or, he might be one of the type of naysayers who get some kind of kick prophesizing doom and pointing out gloom whenever he gets the chance, enjoying enlisting others in his Everything's Gotten Worse club.  And we often believe him.  Why not?  He's just trying to tell us the truth, trying to protect us from being let down when we find out the "real" truth of where we are.  He thinks he's being of service, preparing us for the worst outcome when our innocence will be shattered and discover that pot at the end of the rainbow holds counterfeit gold, and find out that the romantic comedy we think we're in is actually a horror picture.  (Hey.  That's not a bad idea for a film.)

Tag line:  

He walked in, thinking he was in a romantic comedy.

But found out that it was a...  horror show.

The title:


Here's something you might want to remember when your next naysayer appears:  He's as lost as you are.  Regardless of his "credentials" and honors and awards and who he knows.  In fact, he's probably even more lost than you are.  Or, and this is a little more stark and possibly shocking:  He consciously or unconsciously is trying to make sure that there is one less talented, energetic, aware, artist/screenwriter in his world.  One less threat to deal with.  One less powerful force that could absolutely topple his already-unsteady castle built on the sands of negativity, greed, fear, self-loathing, world-loathing, and self-doubt.  Great foundation for your next house, huh? A house you can build with your earnings from making a big screenplay sale.

Those who will not find the courage and look into themselves and face their deepest fears and doubts and negative aspects often have the tendency to project them on to others, on to the world, on to whatever part of their world they live in.  Like the entertainment business.

You -- and only you -- decide how you're going to be and progress in your field of choice.  Leave the naysayers to their work and "don't pay 'em no mind."  Don't pay them anything.  It's too costly.

But be careful:  Be sure to look both ways when you're crossing the street.


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