Hollywood Update: Too Contrived?
The weirdest thing about this week is that it seems so scripted. Let’s say you were an aspiring screenplay writer – not one of those desperado types - but just a humble freelance comedy writer trying to catch a big fish down in Hollywood. You enjoy the process and you don’t get bitter when nothing really happens – at least as far as making them into a movie goes. But along the way, you have one optioned by a producer - pictured above - so you are now a professional scriptwriter. The producer's wife is a Vice President at Universal, so you go to a Hollywood party and meet Tom Hanks, Angelica Houston, Diane Lane, Samuel L. Jackson, George Lucas, Adrian Brodie, and Robert Wagner. You listen as Dustin Hoffman does an impression of a Hollywood producer for around ten minutes. You come back to Portland, turn in your rented tux and things kind of die down. Oh sure, there are drafts, and discussions – you even turn out a couple of scripts last year - but they are not well-received and you’re essentially finished. Then at another event down in L.A., Jay Roach, the director of 3 Austin Powers movies and the producer of other films, tells your friend’s son that the title of one of your scripts is the best he’s ever heard.
That revives things, but how do you continue the story? How do you get the characters to meet again in a way that doesn’t seem contrived? Okay, I’ve got it. Your producer friend has released something called “The Sci-Fi Boys” which is a tribute to his first love: The great early science-fiction special effects artists of Hollywood. The documentary is hosted by Peter Jackson of “Lord of the Rings” fame. Why not have the man – Paul Davids – come up to Portland and do a couple of events next week? How about one event at the Bagdhad Theater next Wednesday? Too contrived for you? Then you can meet and sign the latest contract, etc…
When things start acting this cinematic in real life, you have to play along. That is why I thought I’d bang out a script prior to his arrival and have this be the one. I’m on page 72, and it is gold. I always say that about all of them but this one really is gold. As I’m writing it last night, I get the email with the latest contract for the one Jay Roach complimented. I am not a Hollywood person. I am not a show biz type. I’m actually a pretty low-key freelance comedy writer. But you have to know when you’re living in a movie. You don’t want to be the one who doesn’t live up to the script, even if it seems a little contrived.