As everyone knows, writing is hard …
Well, perhaps not everyone. I know a few producers who think you just slap the words on a page and then get on with the important stuff – like seducing the actresses.
Come to think of it, I’ve also met directors who find the whole writing process just an inconvenient series of arguments which happen before the creative process can begin.
Oh, and then there’s the script editors, actors, ADs, costumers, makeup artists, cinematographers and indeed most of the technical crew who think writers moan about having the easiest job going – sitting still and thinking.
Okay, so it’s only writers who know how hard writing is and you know what? We’re fucking right. And it’s only made harder by producers/directors who DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY FUCKING WANT. They know what they don’t want, but only after you’ve said it. Other than that they haven’t got a clue and it’s really, really difficult to divine exactly what it is they might possibly be thinking the film may vaguely be about. Meetings involve long periods of Guess Who style guessing games as you try to winkle some kind of opinion out of them on what kind of script they think they’re paying for:
“What I’m looking for is Jaws meets The Karate Kid.”
“Right. So the Karate Kid fights a big fucking shark? In the water? Or does the shark sprout legs?”
“No, no, no. When I said they meet, I don’t mean they actually meet – I mean thematically.”
“A shark teaches a kid how to defend himself against bullies? Or maybe a weedy teen martial artist terrorises a local fishing community?”
“No! You’re not listening”
“I only wish that were true.”
Another favourite of mine is when I get asked to write something which is A crossed with B when A and B are the same fucking thing. A bit like asking for ‘Life on Mars’ crossed with ‘Ashes to Ashes’ – unless you’re looking for a series set in 1977 I have no idea what you’re talking about.
And this is what makes writing difficult – the picture they have in their head, the one they want the writer to translate into a script, isn’t really a picture. It’s not fully formed and it actually makes little or no sense. Usually it’s more like a dream – something which makes perfect sense until they have to describe it and then turns into a random stream of unconnected images:
“I was in this room, only it wasn’t me and it wasn’t really a room but there was this iguana wearing a trilby … or possibly a smoking jacket, I can’t remember. Anyway, the iguana which is now a 1964 Studebaker Challenger who’s got this fruitbowl, says … something in German. Possibly about a spatula.”
“Sounds great. How much are you paying me again?”
And so here I sit, staring at a pile of index cards with random words on them like SPATULA, IGUANA and FRUITBOWL, trying to rearrange them into an order which makes some kind of sense, whilst vaguely wondering if it’s too late to just give the money back … when suddenly it hits me …
I’ve done it again.
I’ve completely forgotten why I started this post.
What the fuck was the point of all this?
Something to do with hats I think …