The Producer Doesn’t Want the Script to Crash Either

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eing a Hollywood outsider it seems likely that at some point I’m going to have to get on a plane.

Here’s the thing: I don’t know how to fly a plane.

It’s not that I wouldn’t care to learn. Just never been high on my list of priorities. As a result, I’m not super comfortable flying. Not because I’m worried the wings are going to fall off. Not because “it just doesn’t make sense that something so heavy can fly!” … Oy. No, I’m not comfortable flying because I’m not a pilot.

Arguably, it’s a control thing.

Got a call from Manager the other day– Okay, at this point I’m gonna go ahead and stop simplifying. Manager is actually two managers. Until now – for the ease of reading – I’ve been reducing them down to one person. Because until now they’ve always been on the line together. But recently I’ve been hearing from Manager’s protégé, Co-Manager, more often than Manager.

Am I being pawned off? Let’s save that for another day…

So Co-Manager calls me up the other day. Tells me the votes are in on my unpaid rewrite. And it’s a fail. They feel that what they loved about the original story is getting lost in the rewrite. (You mean all those notes you wanted me to massage into the script? Yeah. Love it. Classic. All the Hollywood bullshit that I’ve heard about coming true before my eyes.) Then he says we’ll set a conference call next week so that they can give me details. And then he’s gone.

First off, to any managers, producers, whatever out there: Don’t do this. And this seems like pretty good advice for life in general, not just screenwriters. Don’t call us up and say, hey, nobody’s happy with your work, it’s gotta be done again (for free) but I don’t have any details – you’ll have to wait a week for those – talk to you then!

It’s a shitty thing to do. A five minute heads up would’ve been just fine.

So I punished them.

Sort of. Technically I got a call to do a freelance gig next week. And those can get pretty time consuming. So I told them I wasn’t available for their notes meeting none the less. Not for another week.

If they want me to do another unpaid rewrite, it’s gonna at least be at my convenience. And it sure as hell isn’t gonna interfere with paid freelance work.

Of my discomfort with flying, a buddy once told me, “y’know, the pilot doesn’t want to crash any more than you do.”

That’s true. And would be somewhat reassuring if I had as much blind faith in strangers as my buddy apparently does. But reassuring or not, it does make the point that on the same airplane, the same journey, we’re all in it together.

And that’s what I’m taking into that next notes meeting. That despite how uncomfortable  this part of the process is making me, the pilot doesn’t want to crash any more than I do.

These producers may ask for changes then not like what their own changes have done to the script. May want free rewrite after free rewrite until it’s been watered down to blissful mediocrity. But they also know how to fly. And want to get to the same destination as me. I’m gonna try real hard to remember that.

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