‘So it’s just the writers?’
Longtime Hollywood producer Bob Hammond was recently surprised to discover that most people won’t work for free.
“I’ve been dealing with writers so long, I guess I forgot what it’s like to negotiate with a real professional. They actually require payment for their services,” said Hammond. “Usually I just pay screenwriters an empty compliment, and that’s enough to keep them plugging away another six or seven months.”
Hammond, currently having his bathroom remodeled, agreed to pay plumber Joe Escobar his full quote for the project.
“At first I thought I could find another plumber who might do the work for free. Like a really young guy just trying to cut his teeth in the home improvement business,” said Hammond. “But it turns out only screenwriters devalue their services by offering to work without payment. I think it has something to do with their low self-esteem…or that most of them are hacks.”
Now charging $250 for advice she herself never followed
Pasadena native Sally Trenton recently transformed herself into “one of Hollywood’s top script consultants,” despite having been one of Hollywood’s worst screenwriters for the past six years.
“I’ve found that it’s much easier to critique other people’s work than actually create quality material of my own,” said Trenton. “Plus I’ve written so many bad scripts, I know how to spot what’s wrong with them.”
Despite never having secured representation or any discernible level of interest from Hollywood producers, Trenton, who has written 14 screenplays, claims she has the insight to help aspiring screenwriters get their scripts ready for the market.
“The last thing you want to do is send someone a script that isn’t ready,” she said. “Unless that someone is me, because how else would I make a living! But seriously, send me $250 and a PDF of your script, and I’ll send you back some extremely subjective notes that may improve your script up to 5%. I’ve read all the best screenwriting books so you don’t have to.”
In the two months since Trenton began marketing her services, she has already helped dozens of amateur writers take their scripts to the next level.
“Two of them made the first cut at Scriptapalooza,” she said. “It’s pretty exciting helping make dreams come true!”
** This THR Classic was first posted in October 2008 **
The 14 Colonies
Revisionist take on the beginning of America, where one of the original colonies was comprised of zombies.
Writer: Hanley O’Brien
New Year’s Weave
A bald man resolves to change his life with a new hairpiece.
Based on the classic SNL skit.
Raunchy action-comedy about an elite group of air force pilots who chase trim all over the Middle East.
Writer: Burke Wood
Allan Jackson has produced just three low-budget films in his 15-year career, but that doesn’t stop him from claiming that 90% of what he sees and hears in daily life “should be a movie.”
“Holy shit!” he recently exclaimed. “That story about you buying a car should be a movie!”
Other things Jackson thinks should be a movie include your sister, the song he just heard on the radio, paper clips and that news story about the dog that saved a baby from drowning.
“It could be really cool and totally four-quadrant,” he said multiple times today. “I need to get my contact at Fox on the phone. Hey – that should be a movie! A guy makes a call to an exec about a film idea! It’s ironic and everything.”
A 77-year-old man goes back to high school to finally get his diploma.
Based on the November 2008 Baltimore Sun article.
Set in 1987, an obscure brand of gum turns everyone who chews it into a total preppy.
Writer: Bob Grills
Set entirely on an escalator. In the vein of Buried.
Produced on a budget of $50, USC student Alex Whitmore’s short film about giant vacuum cleaners invading New York failed to garner the attention of more than 15 random web surfers.
“I was hoping it’d be the next web sensation,” said Whitmore, who shot, edited and did all the effects for ‘NYSuck’ on a laptop, using Final Cut. “But it just didn’t catch on. Still, maybe I can get repped off it someday.”
Unlike viral videos such as “Ataque de Panico,” “The Raven” and “Pixels,” all of which earned their creators notoriety and instant Hollywood cred, Whitmore’s shoddily-helmed video was greeted with complete apathy by the handful of people who have seen it.
“this vid blows,” commented YouTube user ‘bobbX7.’ “epic fail.”
Several aspiring screenwriters were encouraged by the video’s failure, citing their belief that the only “real” way to make it in Hollywood is to write a great script.
‘They just don’t understand marketing’ claims studio
Paramount’s Vice-President of Marketing Bradley Stanfield recently bemoaned dismal box office returns for CLOROXIA – the first in a trilogy of movies based on the household bleach Clorox. According to Stanfield, the public “wouldn’t know marketing brilliance if it wiped the dirt and grime right off their stupid face.”
“Why did Cloroxia flop?” he asked, wearing a stark white shirt and smelling vaguely clinical. “Moviegoers aren’t smart enough to understand the film’s brilliance – it’s totally funded and has the marketing sponsorship built right into the damn concept! What more do they want?”
The marketing veep wasn’t alone in his surprise that Cloroxia didn’t “clean up” in theaters. The film’s female star was also taken aback by the $5 million opening weekend total.
“My character battled all kinds of giant germlike creatures,” said Martha Stewart, who played the role of Captain Mom. “Plus, my vehicle in the movie could blast bacteria away with giant disinfectant lasers, just like Clorox…except without the lasers. It’s more of a fine mist or gentle cloth, depending on your choice of product. To be honest, both are equally handy.”
Studio execs remain hopeful that the franchise will recoup costs overseas and through themed merchandise.
An unscrupulous producer intentionally makes a crappy movie, hoping to immediately sell the remake rights so someone can “put a new spin on it.”
Based on 269 true stories.
The Dragon Layer
After a fire-breathing dragon has killed all the knights in the kingdom, a beautiful princess must seduce the beast into submission.
Writer: Tony Brondo
This 150-page tome chronicles the lives of an average family who reside, unremarkably, on the world’s most boring street. Indie producers swirling.
Writer: Anthony LaGris Bollem
‘I really lost the room there’ he admits
Despite his best efforts to re-engage a pair of development execs, screenwriter Kevin Linney was unable to make them forget about the projectile vomit he had spewed on their sofa just five minutes earlier.
“I guess I didn’t realize how nervous I was at the start of my pitch,” said Linney, who was caught totally off guard by the spontaneous, high-speed vomit. “After their assistant cleaned up the mess, I just couldn’t get the guys to reconnect.”
Added Linney: “It might have been the smell.”
The execs were a bit unnerved that Linney continued with the meeting after the incident.
“If that were me, I’d have been gone,” said one of them. “But this kid kept on pitching, trying to pretend like it never happened. News flash: I don’t give a fuck about a baseball-playing vampire when I’ve got pieces of regurgitated ham on my shirt.”
The other exec agreed.
“It’s kind of a new low for writers. I thought it was bad when that one woman came in wearing a pink pantsuit, but this really takes the cake.”