Saturday, October 01, 2005

Crickets On A Go-Kart

Some time back, I was an "unofficial reader" for a big Los Angeles entertainment conglom that shall not be named under penalty of death (Okay, it was Brillstein-Grey).

What this meant was that I regularly received a Fed-Ex package of scripts. I read said scripts, typed up my coverages, and e-mailed them to the executive. And I did this for free.

Why? One, to see how my scripts stacked up against those being marketed by agencies.

Two, the BG exec implied that this was a way for my scripts to be considered by BG.

Third, I was a big dope.

Moron that I was, it was still a great learning experience.

One, it was validation that my work didn't suck duck eggs. I had imagined that Hollywood was awash with great scripts. To a certain extent, that was true. Hollywood was awash with screenplays, all right, and most of them were stupid, silly and sophomoric. However, most of these stinkers came with impressive agency covers. This gave me hope. If these dogs could find representation, so could I.

Some of these clunkers even had A-list actors attached. More suprising, some of these duds were later produced.

Two, I discovered that there is no perfect script. All of the scripts I read, even the decent ones, contained typos, formatting errors, etc. On my scripts I fretted (and still do) if I misplace a period. This led me to believe that either agencies don't expect their clients to proofread their scripts before they send them out (and clearly the agencies didn't proof them either) and that production execs were willing to overlook even the most grimmest of grammatical glitsches as long as the script had Eddie Murphy attached or it contained a glimmer of box office gold.

During my tenure as a volunteer village idiot, I read a handful scripts that were top notch and got a hearty thumbs up from me. Thankfully, someone higher up on the food chain agreed with me and some of them were even produced.

The exec whom I was dealing with raved about my coverages. He told me they were a big hit with the other execs too. It finally seeped through my thick skull that the exec was probably passing my notes off as his own.

After about six months, I gave up reading for BG after I politely asked to be paid and the exec refused. "Against company policy" he claimed. My friends in the industry guffawed at that. PJ, they crowed, you were rooked.

Well...maybe so.

But it made me feel good when I recently learned that a script I had recommended had won a prize at The Toronto Film Festival. Course, the draft I read had been by another writer, and in the produced movie, a major story element had been changed.

Guess I wasn't as stupid as I thought I was.

1 comment:

Scott the Reader said...

Yeah. Everything's just so underwhelming. Even most of the stuff that sells.

There's hope for us all, except, of course, for the hopeless ones.