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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: 

Dch, Iím so f%6$ing angry.  A producer, who I had an agreement with, and who I did extra work for, expecting to be paid, just broke our contract and got all this work for free out of me.  What an... Well, you can fill in the blanks.  Do you have any advice?


This week's answer: 

Avoiding the Avoiders of Honesty

Advice that will help you keep from finding where this producer lives (and eats and goes to the gym, etc.) and taking the air out of his or her Mercedesí tires?  Advice to keep you from disintegrating your insides with rage towards someone who doesnít have the decency to honor an agreement, especially after heís exploited you and your talent?  Advice to learn how to deal with these gutless, manipulating, false, devious, envious, ďtalentless,Ē greedy vampires of the entertainment industry?  Is that the kind of advice you seek, sincere one?

If so, I think I might have a word to say on the subject.  Letís make it two words, shall we? 

Avoid them.

Donít resist them.  Donít try to manipulate back.  Donít even try to finesse them.  Just...

Avoid them.

Thatís really all that there is to say on the matter.  Oh, wait.  Hereís an addendum.

At all costs.

Now, thatís it. 

Avoid them at all costs.

The reason for the additional words, ďat all costsĒ is because, if you DONíT avoid them, it will cost you.  And cost you plenty.  It will cost you your time... your energy... most likely, even money... and, probably most importantly, it will cost you your sanity.  And letís not forget your extremely important commodity:  your creativity. 

MMís (master manipulators) know how to take advantage of somebody who doesnít see them coming.  And we usually donít.  MMís usually leave their victims in the mud, bleeding, wondering, ďwhat the heck happened here?Ē  They smile at you as you think you found somebody whoís really listening and caring about you and your work.  But what theyíre actually doing is silently sizing you up, looking for your weakness, your ďwink linkĒ where they can pounce, get inside your boundaries, and start to internally tear you apart within your fortress, where they can lessen your self-confidence and belief in your art and yourself.  When you think youíre negotiating and looking for the ďwin/winĒ solution, theyíre deceptively trying to figure out how to bring about ďwin/lose.Ē  And they donít plan on doing anything but winning.  You think youíre in an honest conversation that is based on each of you listening to your needs, responding, seeking how to find a way, while all along the MM is conniving constantly, only listening to his needs, and, pretending to want to work things out, always trying to get you to give up as much as possible and receive as little as possible.  

The unfortunate truth is that there are many charlatans and takers that live in the entertainment world.  There ARE dishonest producers.  But, once you except this fact, youíll be better equipped so as to be able to detect them and, thus, avoid them.

But take heart, talented one.  Thereís good news on the way.  To help you not be victimized any longer, Iím just about finished with my new invention, The Master Manipulator Detector.  The infomercial will be out in December, just in time for Christmas.  But, if you act now and send me only $4,000 to my Paypal account, Iíll put you on the waiting list to receive one as soon as itís ready.

Not really.  I just wanted to see if you "saw me coming."


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