I was asked to meet with a writing team who was having problems. Mainly, they’ve come to loathe one another. That happens. What starts out as a meeting of the minds ends up with bruised egos and one person believing they’re A) doing all the work B) not getting the proper credit and C) writing all the good bits.
Its funny how often its both parties who feel that way.
I read the script and its a mess. You can tell whatever collaboration they had has degraded into fighting for what they’ve written regardless of what was on the pervious page. I see little sabotages laid in to weaken the other persons character. Halfway done I was wondering why they’re continuing. This won’t be read by anyone much less purchased.
But, because someone is giving me money, I meet with them.
One of them is half an hour early. Let the games begin!
The first thing he does is hand me the newest revision. I know it pretty well so I flip through it. Pretty much looks like a total rewrite. With most of the other writers scenes, if not gone, edited. I wonder how surprised the other writer will be with this bold new rewrite?
I didn’t have to wait long because he showed up long before I was done pretending to be giving the script a very through go over. Almost immediately they both start talking. I hate that a tiny bit more than one person talking to me. I stop them quickly. I already know what I’m going to suggest. I already know they’re not going to like it. I already know I don’t give a fuck that they don’t. Its good being me sometimes.
I take all the scripts, including the rewrite, and hold them up.
“My suggestion is simple.” I drop all the scripts in the trash. Their astonishment at this is probably the first time they’ve agreed on anything for months. “One of you buy out the other as screenwriter. If the story uses any scene or character or anything from any other drafts, the person bought out will get a story by credit.” I pause to watch them battle within. First, neither will want to be bought out, no matter what the credit. Too much of their ego is tied up in it. Second, neither is willing to allow the other one to win.
“That’s it?” One of them says.
“Aren’t you going to help fix the problems?” The other asks.
“I did. Its obvious you two can’t work together anymore. So why bother? Drop this project if neither is willing to give it up. Its not worth anything as it is. Its a mess and no amount of editing will fix it because neither of you are willing to accept that your vision for the script is wrong.”
“Are you taking his side?” Someone said. They’ve melded into one giant whine blob so its impossible for me to distinguish.
“No. I’m taking the scripts side.” A pretty straightforward assessment.
The blob begins to separate as I notice something. They’re both starting to cry. Not bawling but some tears are building up to lift off. I watch them cry and, honestly, its a little creepy. One of them, sure. But tag team tears? Dudes? Go write a rom-com right now while the feeling is hot!
I watch them for a few seconds and they’re still crying.
“What is wrong with you two? Are you so sensitive you cringe when someone steps on your shadow?”
Its at that question when, once again, they blob up into one giant, sniffling, crying mass.
“I guess you don’t care about art.” The blob says.
“Bring me some art next time and we’ll see.”
And with that the blob’s tears roll down their cheeks until the mass is liquefied and flows under my door and away from me.
“If only I had that power with all mankind.”