As a project nears production, everyone involved is keen to tell you how much they love the script. It’s a fantastic script, you’ve done a great job … etc, etc.
My usual response is to mumble thanks and try to change the subject.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate positive comments, it’s just … surely not every script is fantastic and not every person involved can like it?
Rightly or wrongly I’m suspicious of profuse praise. It wouldn’t be so bad if, every now and then, someone turned round and told me they “hate the genre, but the script is tolerable”.
And you never hear: “It’s a pile of shit, but I need the money.”
Or: “The script sucks, but I’ve just slept with xxxxx and owe him/her a favour” (where xxxxx is someone involved in the production; usually, but not exclusively limited to, the producer).
I’m not saying I want to be bombarded with torrents of abuse either; hell, I’m not even sure I want people to be honest: “It’s fairly mediocre but I quite like my part.”
Nah, I don’t need to hear that.
But I always remember having a drink with a visual effects guy who’s worked on some fairly high profile films. I’ve mentioned it before, and no doubt will do so again, but he told me everyone involved in the film he was currently working on (big film, big budget) knew it was shit except for the director, the producer and the writer.
Everyone. Cast, crew, teaboy … everyone.
So why do they work on a shit project?
Because they still get paid and good visual effects in a bad film will still generate work for the effects guy. Plus, he enjoys doing the effects, he doesn’t really care what the words are around them.
Sure enough, when the film came out the reviews were all the same: an expensive pile of wank.
So how do you tell when people are being honest and when people are being professional?
And by professional, I mean lying, sycophantic bastards.
Hence my embarrassed mumblings and desire to change the subject whenever anyone offers any praise. I really don’t have any idea how to behave in this situation. I’ve experimented with declaring my genius and refusing to speak to lower lifeforms; but, weirdly, that just seems to upset people. I’ve tried shouting random words to confuse them:
“Trousers! Fishsticks! Voles riding negligent sisscors!”
But that just seems to scare people. I’ve even opted for staring fixedly at their teeth, dribbling and saying:
“Wrestling makes Mister winkie go hard.”
But apparently that’s normal behaviour for a writer and To Be Expected. So I give up, I have no idea how to react and might opt for just not talking to people at all.
Either that or stick to my guns: mumble thanks and try to change the subject.
One thing I do know, if any actor, male or female (usually female) tells you “Thanks for the words” … punch them in the throat. The world doesn’t need that level of pretension and any court of law would reward you for meting out swift justice.
Probably by giving you community service and a fine; but secretly they’d be commending you for services to humanity.