Little Big Man

I got a call a few weeks ago about an old script of mine, The Big Break. I get calls about it every once in awhile. I wrote it after my first pitch trip to LA. It’s about a hack writer from Boston (he writes things like kung fu fighting mimes) who becomes the biggest writer in the industry when all the other writers die in an earthquake. Haven’t, obviously, sold it but I’ll never fail to take a meeting.

Maybe I should rethink that.

I’ve had meetings in opulent office and oppressive rooms; top flight restaurants and greasy burger shacks; the upper most floors in hotels and motels where I feared touching the floor.

I’ve dealt with fawning and blustering people; ones who were in it to cast their mistress; others who had the money but not the brains of an athletic sock.

So, as you can see, I’m ready for anything.

I meet this guy in a mid-range restaurant, not a chain but not far afield. I could tell almost immediately that this guy was a wanna be writer. I know that because he must have had more pages of notes on the script than actual script pages. He wanted to change so much I asked why he was interested.

“Why don’t you just write one of your own?”

“I’m not a writer. I’m an idea man. That’s why I’m a producer.”

Oh, I understand now. He has a large bowl of affliction alphabet soup and can’t squeeze out the concentration it would take to pound out ninety or a hundred pages.

It didn’t take long to figure out that he was also an ‘amaducer’. That’s what I call amateurs who don’t have what it takes to be a producer.

We chat for a while and, while I offer to sell him the script so he can do whatever he’d like with it, that’s not what he wants. I’m sure he doesn’t know exactly what it is he wants so he starts to toss a fit. Not a big one, he’d be too embarrassed for that, but one that proved all he wanted to do was toss some money at his ego.

I’d had enough so told him so. I told him maybe he should take some of his money and hire someone with production experience because,

“You shouldn’t put a little dick in the big chair.”

2 responses to “Little Big Man

  1. I imagine this script holds a “soft place” in your heart…or are you able to separate yourself from these things? Do you have to in order to survive mentally?

  2. I had a songwriting partner who was amazed at how quickly I’d forget songs we’d worked on. I’ve always been very thick skinned about my work and always looking for the next big thing. I’ve had people come up to me reciting things I’ve written and have no clue what they’re talking about. In all cases I can be shaken into remembering but I’ve always said I write it so I don’t have to remember it.

    As much as I may like the characters when I’m writing them once I’m done, I’m done. It’s like someone you were very close to at one time you never see anymore. It can be a little uncomfortable because you’re both in different phases so what once brought you close may have no bearing anymore.

    I’ve had to go back and do, sometimes major, rewrites of old things but that’s just craft. I know many writers who can’t fathom my attitude but it works for me.

    As far as The Big Break, I have some funny bits in there. It was something I started on a plane, wrote it while it was fresh then moved on. I stand behind everything I write (It’s The Zell Guarantee! “I’ll Admit To Writing It Even If It Sucks!”) but I don’t have favorites or hold anything close.

    I often use something an old writing professor once said, “You create writing but you also create shit and never give that a second thought. You create it and flush it. Do the same with your writing.”

    He’s not saying don’t care about it (I don’t know you but I care quite a bit about shitting) just don’t get bogged down with it.

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