write the spec and roll the dice

The reason I haven’t posted anything since my arrival in L.A. (a city Shane Black described last night as “A fairy tale read by a pervert”) is twofold:

For the first couple of days as I was adjusting to the massive wrench in body clock I didn’t have the capacity to sit down and compose an entry for this blog. Instead I posted observational opinion on my other journal Babblogue Blog. I spend a lot of time ruminating on a subject before I post about it on this blog. Hence there are fewer entries on this journal, but I hope they are of a decent quality.

Second, once my brain was capable of sustaining a deeper level of composition I became busy with Screenwriting Expo, and the ancillary events I attended that were organised by Sherman Oaks College.

In the past week I have absorbed a lot of information about how the entertainment industry works in L.A. It is a complicated industry, and the road from aspiring screenwriter to jobbing scriptmonkey can be a long and treacherous trail.

It was enlightening to listen to the successful professionals such as the utterly charming Jon August, and the seasoned veteran, William Goldman, and then to listen to representatives from the other end of entertainment spectrum: the industry execs, as well as producers, agents and managers. The points of view are quite different.

The writers dispense advice that will keep the aspirants buoyed with the “irrational ambition” (as Ehren Kruger put it) necessary to keep their asses in the seat and typing at the keyboard. The execs, agents, etc. are usually blunt about the writers’ chances in the industry. Some are gentler about it, and others almost take pleasure in being as tough as possible. This is not an an industry for the thin-skinned.

Of course, writers are told continually that the rejection is not personal. You have to take the hits, and move on. Persistence is a mandatory trait.

At the end of a week of soaking up the realities of the industry, I am amazed that any movie gets made. There are so many obstacles. The development process alone provides many hurdles, and even if the miracle occurs and the project is greenlit, there are so many different ways the film can end up not being made, or being screwed up beyond recognition.

It’s a hell of a crap shoot.

What’s astonishing is that people continue to roll the dice in this rigged game. There is a great deal of passion in this town to make films, despite the odds. Some people carry deep scars from past disastrous projects, and yet they persevere.

Hollywood runs on faith.

Bribing the croupier doesn’t hurt either…