“I have the greatest idea for a movie ever! I’ll split the profits with you if you write it.”
If I had one hundred dollars for every time I’ve heard that I could retire. Twice.
“No thanks.” I always respond immediately.
“Whaaa. . .?” They express profound shock. “But it’s the greatest idea ever!”
“Then you run with it. I’m not interested.”
“You haven’t even heard the idea yet.”
“Nor will I.”
I then walk away with my beverage, meal, once I changed lines in a grocery store.
Just another visit from the Greatest Idea Ninja.
It’s always someone who is a friend of a friend who doesn’t know me, has no experience in any media and has no idea how much contempt I will hold for them for the rest of existence of this and all other planets.
It took me years to perfect my walk off. When this first started happening I’d spend as much time as needed gently explaining to this well meaning person how things like this work, the fact that I have plenty of my own ideas I don’t have time to work on, and the absolute fact that it’s not going to be close to a great idea.
Trust me, in all the times I’ve heard this, not one was great, few were good and fewer totally original.
But, as you’re no doubt aware, I do hire myself out so, if people go through the proper channels, actually have a script I think I can help with I will take on the project while getting paid.
I don’t want to hear about profit sharing, backend deals, I don’t even want my name involved. You built the frame, I’m the project manager checking the punchlist.
A friend asked if I’d meet some people. That had a great script – it’s amazing how many great scripts I hear about and how few I’ve actually read – but were having trouble.
Not a problem, glad to meet if they agree to the rules. They do, alls good, we set a time and place (a bar of their choosing because I like free beer) and have a go.
I always arrive early for things like this. I like to scope out the place, get my bearings. Yes, have a beer or two.
I always figure they chose the place to set a tone. It’s that old sales trick of dressing one level better than your customers. More and they’ll get nervous, worse and they won’t take you seriously.
It’s a nice place. High middle end. I don’t know if it’s a regular haunt but, using the information I have about the middle man, it’s not. He’s a can beer man with can beer friends and this is a fruit flavored beer bar.
I look around to see if I get a scriptwriter vibe from anyone. I don’t nor does anyone seem to be looking for anyone. So I tug the visor of my baseball hat down and order a beer.
I always wear a baseball hat when doing a public cold meeting. I don’t know what they look like, they probably don’t know what I look like but I’m sure they’ve been told I have a shaved head. For some reason that always seems to come up.
I don’t do it to be sneaky, I do it so I’m not ambushed. I learned my lesson when I was sitting in a booth at a biker bar (I was hoping he was a regular and not playing up because this place was listed as a federal law enforcement historical surveillance landmark site). Someone came from behind and grabbed me. It was the guy – he’d been told I had a shaved head – but this sure wasn’t the kind of place you wanted someone grabbing you from behind.
Since then, hat.
The door to this bar opens but it’s not my friend. Four woman who look as if they’re coming from work walk in and sit at the bar. They toss their bags, purses and, I think, a tent on the bar and order. I lean back to watch TV while waiting.
I’m not trying to listen to these woman but it’s pretty damn impossible not to. They were cackling over each other in an attempt to out wonderful each other. It was mindless, useless but, to them, fabulous!
The bartender seems happy when I call for another beer. He’s been the center of their world primp party since they’re arrived.
“Regulars?” I ask as he opens my beer.
“No, thankfully.” He puts my beer on the bar. “We have enough of them around here.”
“Let me ask you,” I troll for information. “This is my experience so let’s see if it’s yours. Do groups like that always travel in fours nowadays?”
He thinks for a second before laughing.
“A majority of them, yes.”
They summon him so I start listening to their conversation. I often find lines I can use in the wild. Not this time. It was screech peppered babbling.
Then it happened.
One of them reached into a bag and I saw it. The shimmer of a brass fastener traditionally used to hold movie scripts together.
“Holy fucking Satan on a stick. They’re going to want me to rewrite Skanks In The City.” I think bowing my head barward.
The door opens, as if on cue, and my friend comes in. I get up and greet him.
“I don’t think I’m going to be able to do this.”
“Hi to you to.”
“Whatever. I don’t think this is a good fit.”
“So you talked to them?”
“No, I’ve just been listening to them and the most enlightening thing said was, ‘My thong is so tight it’s cutting me in half.’ Now I don’t know if that was horizontal or vertical but I’m not going to stick around to find out.”
He tells me they’re just excited and all that crap. So I tell him I’ll do the meet.
“But if I see one exclamatory ‘Oh my gawd!!’ in the script I’m outta here.”
So we go over and the only positive thing I can say is the beer was cold and free. After a quick how do you do they start their pitch. They tell me it’s the most unique crime script. There’s everything! Drama! Comedy! Chases! Killings! Sex!
I reach over and pick up the script. After a big hit from my beer, I open it. I read the first page and exhale deeply. I flip to the middle. Read another. Exhale deeply. I repeat this a few times before I can feel myself going blind as a safety precaution.
“Sorry, I don’t think this would be a good fit for me.”
They protest as one of them gives me a sheet of paper with notes. I put the paper on top of the script and attempt to explain why I don’t feel I can help.
“I don’t think Sex In The City Of Charlie’s Angels is something I have the skill to help with. Crime fighting fashionistas. Great ass by day. Kick ass by night. Watch as they bore their arch rivals to death with their aimless chatter about shoes. Experience the agony of a full body waxing through the power of the grate-o-voice. Sorry, not a project for me.”
The truth is, that’s only half the truth. The other half is I couldn’t work with this team. While I’m reading there was a constant dialog regarding what I was reading. As if the words on the page couldn’t explain it so a writers commentary track was needed.
I finish my beer, put my tab on the script, tip the bartender, offer my good byes and good lucks. But they won’t hear of it. They order another beer and begin the hard press.
And it’s a mess. They talk over each other, crowing and chirping, talking in four directions at one time.
I attempt to wrestle back the conversation to let them down easy. But the more I try to encourage them to keep working at it, the more they try to convince me that I’d be an idiot to pass this opportunity.
That was the end for me. They don’t even know me and they’re actually calling me an idiot? Right to my face? Aren’t woman like this supposed to talk behind people’s backs?
“Listen, the bottom line is, regardless of the quality of this script, there is no way I could work with this clueless clucks clan.”
I sure know how to leave an impression on the way out, don’t I?