Friday, March 07, 2008

Ignorance Is Bliss

Two today. You can tell I'm avoiding doing notes. Heck my weekend was up the spout anyway, so I might as well procrastonate further today.

I got a call from a writer mate who'd just read the last post. In the discussion over the reasons for the rise of Gay TV an interesting proposition came out.

The less you know about writing the better.

The world is full of would be gurus telling you how to write and even what to write. It's a veritable Industry in itself. Some I daresay are worthwhile and valuable. Most aren't. They simply regurgitate the percieved wisdom of the analyst. Not the story teller. Most of them have very little in the way of actual writing credits and concentrate on packaging story and script into what is considered the executives' preferred formula.

Here's what David Mamet has to say about this 'formula' in his excellent Bambi Vs Godzilla -

''The middle men are bureaucrats, and they have a natural foe, and that foe is the script. For a star's grosses may be quantified, and a prediction (supportable even when proved false) may be made about his or her worth. But the worth of a script is moot.

How then to remove the potential (not for error, but for recrimination) of an unfortunate choice?

By removing the unquantifiable: the surprising, the unique, the upsetting, the off-color, the provocative; by removing drama.

A course in the business of screenwriting then, might teach how to recognise, in order to obliterate, drama.

Skill in this bureacratic endevour, unfortunately, will avail the practitioner little, as in shunning the original, he consigns himself to a limitless applicant pool - a pool made up of all those capable of suppressing, or incapable of possessing a love of drama.''

Now that's a fucking writer! And okay Mamet aimed that particular barb at Hollywood execs. But the same largely holds true for a lot of execs here. They are much more concerned with holding on to their salaries than taking a risk.

They look for a reprise of last years hit. The same but different.

So I guess what I'm saying is if you want some tips on how to break into the business then these ''gurus' might have something valuable to say. Providing they themselves have 'broken in' and sustained a career. Not always the case I assure you. But if you want to create something original and worthwhile then the only person who can do that is you.

That may reduce the chances of it being made, but it will be good for your writer's soul. I've said before, you have to write without fear. In order to do that perhaps a degree of ignorance would be useful.

One of the reasons I stopped reading scripts was I found myself advising people to ''shape'' their scripts into the ''perceived wisdom'. I was contributing to the lack of originality and didn't feel comfortable doing so. If I want to be a script whore that's down to me and my bank balance at the time. If I encourage others to do so then I'm perpetuating the flawed system.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you rock ED. Two gems in one day.