Register Monday | December 9 | 2019

Image Is Something

How Do I Look?

I just finished a rewrite of my film and read through it. When I was done, I went for a drive. I don't know if it was the anti-climactic feeling of being finished after a month of work or whether the script just didn't live up to my hopes, but I was not too happy. It's becoming a pattern, lately: I finish a script and immediately hate it. Over time, I come around and think that it's actually pretty good. Then I get notes, do another rewrite, and repeat. Maybe that comes with setting a high standard for myself, or maybe I really am becoming an annoying, neurotic writer. It's emotionally draining, so I constantly have to remind myself that as long as the script is getting better and not worse, everything will turn out okay.

There were a number of people waiting to read the new draft, mostly prospective producers I had met or reached out to recently in the hopes they would love the script and help me get it made. I've had a few nibbles thus far and hopefully one of them will prove to be more than just talk. Someone who is passionate about the movie and really believes it could be something good. Strangely, the money people have been much easier to deal with so far. As long as I can show them how I think the movie will make money, they seem to be fine just reading a synopsis and believing that I am capable of the task.

In other news, I met last Thursday with two executives at a production company who had read two of my comedy scripts that my agent had sent them. The meeting was in a high rise in Westwood, where I sat in a couch-filled room with a great view of Bel Air and two young female development executives. Both were very friendly and complimentary and wanted to know where I got my comedic sensibilities from. I didn't really have an exciting answer for them. Movies, sketch comedy, the usual. As I was sitting there, I remembered that these meetings are really more like auditions. It's not enough that they like your writing. They want to get to know you and if they like you, they may just want to work with you in the future. It's always tough, because that means you have to try to be yourself while also entertaining them but without looking like you are performing. And if you are presenting yourself as a comedy writer, you better be funny. A fine line, indeed, and I often think that some of the successful people in Hollywood succeed not because of talent but because of genuine charm (or eccentricity that people mistake as charm). People want to work with them because... it's fun.

The other aspect I keep hearing about is the importance of a writer's image. That a writer has to physically embody the type of writing they do. If they write "edgy" scripts, they better look like they live an "edgy" life, even if they don't. Who would want to hire a happy, self-adjusted guy to write a horror script? No, you want somebody creepy, like Stephen King. As for comedy writers, you should look funny. Not like a clown, but like somebody hip whose sense of humor pervades every aspect of their being. I have little doubt that executives will favor the goofy writer with the Woody Allen glasses and the ironic t-shirt over the handsome, well-dressed one.

So it becomes a battle. Of course, you can't be someone you're not (some people can but I can't) but you have to exaggerate certain characteristics of yourself to live up to the image-related expectations of those who hold opportunity in their hands and may give it to you if you can make them feel you are worthy. And, sadly, in this town it's not just about the work. So now I wear my glasses to meetings. I'm still debating whether or not to wear my "Von Drunk" t-shirt.