‘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.”
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.”
According to film producer Alex Whitmore, the key to having a successful career in Hollywood is demonstrating passion for your work.
“The more indiscriminate, the better,” he said. “I’m talking about the kind of passion you can generate at the drop of a hat, in a studio exec’s office, even though the project being discussed is a remake of some failed 70s sitcom. Shit yeah I can get excited about that! At least for a few minutes…”
In the past two weeks alone, Whitmore has displayed overwhelming support for nearly 40 different projects, claiming each of them is “near and dear to his heart.”
“There’s that one about the robot cat ninja,” he said, referring to the spec script he optioned last month. “So exciting! But I also love the story rights we purchased this morning from that small town witch doctor. They’re all my favorite.”
When told the term “favorite” typically applies to a single thing, Whitmore laughed.
“Sure, for losers,” he said. “You think I got where I am today by being a loser? I don’t think so.”
Thought it was just something extras did in movies
Jeff Belsin has spent the last 15 years in the bubble of Hollywood, detached from reality. So when his wife told him the garbage man didn’t take the refrigerator they left out behind the house, Belsin was perplexed.
“Wait, garbage men are real? People literally go around picking up trash for a living?” he asked. “I thought that was some horrible job writers made up to add grittiness to movies and episodes of Law & Order.”
After realizing her husband wasn’t joking, Belsin’s wife suggested it might be time to switch professions, or at least take a vacation.
“I’m beginning to worry that Jeff doesn’t realize there’s a world outside of movies where people struggle and lead normal lives,” she said. “His idea of struggling is when a movie gets stuck in turnaround and he doesn’t collect his production fee.”
According to sources, Belsin also believes people routinely trade places with animals, and cars explode when you shoot them.
Scribe jumps at ‘great opportunity’
Despite making nearly $100,000 a year as an accountant, aspiring screenwriter Josh Pendleton has agreed to write a script for producer Kevin Dernier in exchange for absolutely nothing.
“It’s all about getting a foot in the door. At least that’s what Kevin tells me,” said Pendleton, eager to start work on his first free draft. “The nice thing is that it’s Kevin’s idea, so he’s got a lot of passion for it, and I don’t have to worry about ‘creative rights’ or any of those annoying details.”
Dernier, who was an associate producer on The Adventures of Pluto Nash in 2002, claims this particular project will be a great learning experience for Pendleton.
“I’m guessing I’ll put Josh through the ringer for like 14 months,” he said. “After that, he’ll get angry, realize the rights belong to me, and now I’ve got a nice rough draft I can get some other newbie to polish for me.”
Pendleton has already taken off three days of work to get a head start on the outline.
“Projects like this tend to move quick, from what I hear on screenwriting message boards,” he said. “The sooner I get this script written, the sooner Kevin can show it to his vast array of studio contacts.”
‘It would really spice things up’ he says of dramatic thriller
Screenwriter Allan Goldblatt thought producer Mark Smith was joking about re-imagining the fireman’s wife as a zombie, but the ten awkward seconds of silence that followed suggest Smith may in fact have been serious about the change.
“I’ve heard some pretty terrible notes before, but that one takes the cake,” said Goldblatt. “I’d love to see him tell the retired fireman who wrote the book this script is based on that we decided to make his caring wife a bloodthirsty zombie instead.”
According to Smith, he was simply trying to make the script more studio-friendly.
“Zombies are big right now,” he said. “Judging by the look on Allan’s face, you’d think I was trying to fuck his sister or something. I mean, how badass would it be if the wife was like this horny zombie ‘cougar,’ cheating on the husband left and right – but he never has any proof because she keeps eating her lovers! Now that’s what I call drama!”
Goldblatt was last seen meandering into the ocean, fully clothed, at high tide.
Studio not buying it
‘He should have known better’ says company head
Adam Noble thought he was doing his job when he suggested optioning a taut thriller written by a first-time scribe from Boise, Idaho.
Instead, Noble was fired on the spot, due to the company’s unwritten rule that any new project must be a remake, adaptation, sequel, or based on an existing property.
“For some reason, Adam thinks we give a shit about whether material is original or entertaining,” said producer Bob Jenner, a principal at the company. “This is the movie business. The only things we care about are good blow and making easy money so we can buy even better blow.”
According to Jenner, that means saying yes to projects like Free Willy 5, and no to material that actually reveals something about the human condition.
Despite the setback, Noble has faith in the Hollywood system.
“Every once in a while, a quality movie gets made,” he said. “I figure if I stick around in this business long enough, I might work for a decent producer after like 40 or 50 years.”