Thursday, September 10, 2009

"I will not read your f***ing script."

A History of Violence screenwriter Josh Olson blogs for the Village Voice in a piece called "I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script":
I will not read your fucking script.

That's simple enough, isn't it? "I will not read your fucking script." What's not clear about that? There's nothing personal about it, nothing loaded, nothing complicated. I simply have no interest in reading your fucking screenplay. None whatsoever.

If that seems unfair, I'll make you a deal. In return for you not asking me to read your fucking script, I will not ask you to wash my fucking car, or take my fucking picture, or represent me in fucking court, or take out my fucking gall bladder, or whatever the fuck it is that you do for a living.
Simple enough, indeed. A bit later:
Which brings us to an ugly truth about many aspiring screenwriters: They think that screenwriting doesn't actually require the ability to write, just the ability to come up with a cool story that would make a cool movie. Screenwriting is widely regarded as the easiest way to break into the movie business, because it doesn't require any kind of training, skill or equipment. Everybody can write, right? And because they believe that, they don't regard working screenwriters with any kind of real respect. They will hand you a piece of inept writing without a second thought, because you do not have to be a writer to be a screenwriter.
A very harsh truth in a lot of cases, I'm sure - but I have had experiences in the past where professional, working screenwriters were more than willing to offer feedback and advice to a fledgling writer. I know other Leaguers have, too.

You can read the full article here, and feel free to let me know what you think.


DOA said...

I really enjoyed the full post actually. I used to also tell people if they're serious, get a degree in screenwriting, or work with a screenwriter, and they give me the "raw talent's all you need" and "you don't like my script because great artists are often misunderstood" response. I took a cooking class and cook regularly and my friends like my cooking. That doesn't make me a chef. Just because someone had a soul-wrenching love affair doesn’t mean they’re now Shakespeare. On the other hand, I’m not Josh Olson either. I don’t have 2 piles of scripts to read, and no one’s paying me to write. So I do still read the script or synopsis, except now rather than sending notes pointing out the endless problems, I ask them to buy me dinner and over the course of a paid hour explain the basics: difference between story and plot, act structures, etc. People seem to find that a lot more helpful and easier to swallow.

'Backer said...

I appreciated the post, and never actually considered what a tough spot you could put someone in when asking for a read. Then again, I feel as if someone I would ask would probably understand that I am well-trained and that I'm not handing them a "Hollywood should make this" amateur script.

On the flip side of the coin, I am always skeptical when asked by non-writing friends to even hear their ideas, much less read something. Typically, they're a series of in-jokes strung together by... nothing.