Thursday, September 14, 2006

The BS FACTOR

Big Bill Martell has an excellent post here titled Smoke and Mirrors http://sex-in-a-sub.blogspot.com/


Yep this is an industry where the BS factors looms large in every field. From the writer or producer exaggerating their credits, contacts or heat to the actor telling you he was one of the leads in Terminator 2. As he believes the movie centered on the first cop who was killed, in his own mind he is right.

I've been caught out a couple of times by the BS factor. Once in L.A was particularly nasty.

To cut a long story short, I was in LA and my agents had blown up, so I'm not working and unrepped. Just another Joe Schmo to the busy producer or agent.
Finally I catch a break. The receptionist at A BIG AGENCY tells me they have a new agent just started, let's call him MS, and looking for talent. Send in a script.

I did. A couple of weeks later I give him a call. By this time I'm working for tips in a Reseda carwash you understand. MS says he loved the script. He wanted to hip-pocket me. Get it out to his contacts and if any interest came he would sign me.

Well that's manna from heaven to me who is doing 12 hours six days a week as the only English speaking guy in the carwash.

So the script goes to CastleRock and Paramount and .......I forget who else. I call MS at BIG AGENCY on a weekly basis for updates. It seems to be going up the chain everywhere. Things are looking good.

He calls ME at the carwash, man if those guys spoke English they would be so impressed, and tells me a company had read my script and had me in mind for a rewrite on a project. Big Bucks. Yahoooooooo!

A week later I call back. Someone at BIG AGENCY answers the phone. I ask for MS and am told 'He doesn't work here any more'
Bit of a shocker, but I politely enquire where he can be found and the phone is slammed down on me. I'm standing there with a little more than mild apprehension.

Again, long story short but I track down the prodco who MS said was thinking of hiring me for the re-write. When I phone I explain about MS and the rewrite project and that I was sorry to bother them but I couldn't get a hold of MS.

The lovely lady [called Elaine] hesitated for a second, then suggested I come in for a meeting. Wahooooooo!

But not really. She sat me down and explained that there was no re-writing project and there was something I should know about MS.

Elaine had been to a party the week before. She had met another agent from BIG AGENCY there and mentioned she knew another agent there who kept promising to send her scripts but never did. His name was MS.

Agent took her aside and asked if she was sure his name was MS. She confirmed it. They had been talking on the phone for almost a year.

Agent told her MS was not an agent. He was the receptionist! I guess they fired his ass after that.
That dipshit wasted the best part of six months of my life.


Couple of UK examples. No name no pack drill for obvious reasons.

A couple of years ago an American guy turned up here claiming to be a writer on E.R. He got a few meetings pitched a few ideas, and low and behold one was bought. This went fine until the first script was delivered. It wasn't exactly what you might consider E.R standard. In fact it was crap.

By this time other writers had been hired for other episodes and the juggernaut was on it's way.
One of those writers was an avid E.R fan and knew the name of every writer on the show. He knew our guy wasn't one of them. He tipped off the producer, who by this time was tearing his hair out trying to get American guy's scripts to work. Yankee Doodle wasn't so Dandy after that.

I believe the show is now several series in. He is not a writer for obvious reasons. His career here as a writer is shot. But he'll still get a fat juicy format fee.

Another tale about a BAFTA winning writer. This is as told me by the producer of the show which got a Bafta. Although this writer got the credit for the script - it was actually a page one re-write by a script Doctor. Hardly one word of the original writer's script remained in the final draft.
The original writer turned up for the Bafta award. As he was entitled. It was his name on the credits. He expressed a degree of feeling guilty, but shit - It's a BAFTA man. That's going on my CV.

BS happens all the time. But on balance I think it backfires more than it works.

12 comments:

Debs said...

How did your pitch meeting go?

English Dave said...

It was postponed until tomorrow Debs.

Just as well. I meant to get a haircut but buggered about on the internet instead. lol.

Next week I'm getting down to some serious work. .....Definitely.

Debs said...

Only a 24 hour postponement? That's not bad - you're obviously well up the writing food chain. Looking forward to a blow-by-blow account, down to the number of phone calls taken while you're literally mid-pitch.

English Dave said...

That might be my Dentist. Hang on a second could you?


/Just thinking aloud about the only time my phone rings when I'm in a meeting Debs. lol

I wish it were more but it isn't.

wcdixon said...

great stories English Dave (or is it Ed?) - I think there is more here to mine on the whole topic of entertainment biz b.s.

As in, we all have stories of those who got in doors by misrepresenting themselves or their credits --- but I agree that it ultimately backfires on them.

But there seems to be an acceptable? degree of b.s. necessary (maybe its more for producers) in order to get projects kick-started or off the ground or financing closed.

Is there good b.s.?

English Dave said...

Is there good b.s.?

I'd say in very limited circumstances, Will. Depending on the reciever of the BS.

If you feel they are prone to accepting BS then the chances are they are BS'itting you.

English Dave said...

I just read over my answer to Will.

It was meant as a generalisation . I hope you didn't think it was directed at you.

What the hell am I saying. Of course you didn't. You know the score.

Jutratest said...

I'd say a good script is the best possible BS.

wcdixon said...

Juratest wisdom/humour bites go transatlantic...

But I will counter that having a good/great script can drown in the b.s game. How many movies/shows have we seen and wondered: how did that shite get made? Or, how many good scripts have you read and wondered: why 'isn't' this getting made?

Not to overkill the bad b.s. and good b.s. thingeroo (too late now), but as long as it don't involve outright lying...there does need to be an element of generating some hype/excitement b.s. in order to get a lot of things made.

wcdixon said...

And Dave of England...I think I know why you warned me about bringing up the blogging to the show (or at least I think I know - please enlighten if I missed point) - but I was actually trying for a preemptive strike as I am 95% sure one of the producers already reads the blog (based on his unique location and a frequent visitor) so thought if I put it on table and was up front, they might be cool about it.

That said - they boned me today and dumped a major revision in my lap so it might be difficult to blog entertainingly and honestly if I'm pissed.

Oh well...

Sara_J_K said...

On a current popular tv drama series one of the team was vocal in his outrage when a writer took full credit (and cash) for an episode which had been wholly rewritten by the lead writer. Skip to the next series and that same person has written a pretty lousy script which is wholly rewritten by the lead writer and guess what? Outraged of W10 decides that the idea in the original script (not his incidentally) is sufficiently intact that he should keep his name on it - thus scooping the 115% as well as the kudos.. Should he be embarrassed? I guess not but in future he'll keep his mouth shut. Needless to say he's new to tv writing.

English Dave said...

Yep Sara it's easy to forget that credit means cash. On a couple of occasions I've done near page one re-writes on other peoples scripts. I looked on the writing fee as a bonus. But it was a still a bit galling when the buy out went to the original writers.