I’m reading (well, trying to read) Writing Screenplays that Sell.
I’m only on the second chapter. I’m stuck because I can’t get past an idea in chapter one.
In the first chapter, author Michael Hauge made this statement:
If you aren’t going to movies or watching television these days because you don’t like what Hollywood’s producing these days (a comment I hear frequently), then why do you want to be a screenwriter? Is it really wise to pursue a career in the film industry if you think that the stuff that Hollywood produces is crap? If that’s your belief, then your screenplay is likely to be so strikingly different from the current mainstream films that it will be impossible to sell.
O.K. It’s not that I hate everything that Hollywood pushes out. I’m watching Iron Man 2 again on FX because I love the movie and I watch it every chance I get. I’m into a few shows, and I’m totally addicted to Criminals Minds.
With that said, I think a lot that Hollywood pushes out is crap. I saw Identity Thief while in California. It hurts to say, but I totally hated it. I love Melissa McCarthy, but oh my goodness, that movie was just awful.
Yet it made money. Yet that screenplay obviously sold.
So the problem I have with Mr. Hauge’s statement on page 10 of his book is that it’s immediately disparaging from the get go.
What if people like Issa Rae or Lena Waithe followed this advice? “Well, what I want to write doesn’t follow the mainstream, so I shouldn’t even bother writing it.” Awkward Black Girl wouldn’t be an award-winning web series and Dear White People wouldn’t be in production.
True, they aren’t working in Hollywood proper. (Though Issa Rae is developing a T.V. show for ABC with Shonda Rhimes) But the idea behind the idea of Hauge’s statement that I find disparaging is “If you’re not going to write for the system, then don’t bother writing at all.”
People should want to write screenplays because they have a story to tell and want to get emotions from people. Hauge’s emphasis on creating something that will make money is a part of why there is so much Hollywood is producing so much “crap.” Identity Thief made money, sure–$40 was spent on the movie in less than two minutes. But that doesn’t mean it was good.
Keep in mind I’m only on chapter two of the book, and I’m sure there is useful information in it or else I wouldn’t have checked it out.
But I can’t help but pick apart what I perceive to be flawed thinking.
What are some of your thoughts on voices outside of the mainstream and how they fair in the Hollywood system?