Years ago, when I first started writing, I made several very wrong assumptions.
The first was that my initial goal was to ‘break in’, as if there were some walled garden somewhere where all the TV/movie people hung out. Possibly a darkened and debauched nightclub with lots of drugs and morally ambiguous men/women/goats.
There isn’t. There’s no ‘in’ to break into. Behind the wall you’re looking at, whatever the stage of your career, is just another wall. Sadly, it’s walls all the way to the grave.
The second assumption was that I could start small, get a micro-budget film produced, then a low-budget, then a medium-budget … and so on until I was filthy fucking rich and could start my own debauched nightclub and hire my own damned goats.
Yeah … that didn’t work either.
But the assumption I want to talk about today is fact checking. I used to think there was a department for checking facts in a script. I figured I could just get things vaguely right and someone somewhere would send me a list of corrections during pre-production.
I mean, there’s probably a whole department for this sort of thing, right? I think I was imagining some kind of dimly lit office crammed with desks where miserable old men slave away in front of piles of reference material.
“Phill Barron’s written another script!” one would say.
“Oh for fuck’s sake, what facts has the useless cunt got wrong now?” would chirp another.
Then they’ll fall on my script like a horde of ravenous … um accountants? Fact checkers? Damn, can’t really think of a good analogy there.
Anyway, they’d spring into action and instantly correct me on my spurious and inaccurate portrayal of 17th Century submarines.
They had submarines back then, right? Pretty sure they did. Probably made out of wood or hollowed out pumpkins or something.
I mean, come on – if it’s in a movie then someone must have checked it, right? Surely they don’t let idiots like me just make this shit up? I mean what if I get this stuff wrong? What if I can only remember four of The Beatles’ names and make up the other seven? What if I can’t remember which country Africa’s in? Or which end of the EM spectrum gold is on?
This is important shit! When you’re writing high-quality, much loved toss like Strippers vs Werewolves, people want, nay need, to know the facts they’re presented with are not only accurate but … um … something else. More accurate?
Turns out, there isn’t a fact department. At least not on the films I’ve worked on. There’s just me.
Which is a shame really, because I know absolutely fucking nothing about absolutely fucking everything.
This is a problem, because one of the skills I think you need as a scriptwriter is a basic working knowledge of everything. Or at least the ability to find someone who does know.
Thank fuck for Wikipedia, I say, because they know everything, right?