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Friday, March 20, 2009

Chilling Words

Eszterhas quoting Paramount studio head B.P. Schulberg:

"We can't afford to alienate our movie audience by telling them the truth about themselves."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How to Handle a Trashing, etc., etc.

Playwright/screenwriter Harold Pinter: "As soon as he read my script Accident, the producer Sam Spiegel summoned me to his office. He began his commentary by saying: 'You call this a screenplay?' He then said, 'You can't make a movie out of this. Who are these people? I don't know anything about them. I don't know anything about their background. I don't know what they're doing. I don't understand what they're up to. I don't understand one thing. I think you have to seriously rethink the whole script.' I said, 'No, I'm not rethinking it. That's it.' " . . . . From the time screenwriters John Gregory Donne and Joan Didion began work on a script called Golden Girl until the time it was filmed as Up Close and Personal, they did twenty-seven drafts of the script over the course of six years . . . . Director Ken Russell to [legendary] screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky: "What's it to you whether you like the set or not? You're only the writer! . . . Take your turkey sandwiches and your script and your Sanka and stuff it up your ass and get on the next fucking plane back to New York and let me get on with the fucking film." . . . . A screenwriter and a director were on a trip scouting locations. The script called for "white houses dotting the hillsides." The hills they were looking at were perfect except for the fact that blue houses were dotting the hillside, not white ones. The director, a freak for authenticity, turned the location down because of the blue houses. The screenwriter took the script out of the director's hands, then crossed the word white out and replaced it with blue. The director approved the hillside. . . . Screenwriter Renny Harlan (Cliffhanger; Exorcist: The Beginning): "I don't want accidents, I want disasters. I don't want dirt, I want filth. I don't want a storm, I want a hurricane. I don't want fear, I want panic. I don't want suspense, I want terror. I don't want humor, I want hysteria." . . . . Novelist/screenwriter Raymond Chandler: "Eventually there will be a type of director who realizes that what is said and how it is said is more important than shooting it upside down through a glass of champagne."

Joe Eszterhas The Devil's Guide to Hollywood: The Screenwriter as God.

Severely and absolutely recommended.

Slugs, Snakes & Lemmings

Capitalism deifies self-inerest. The AIG men are today's gods and the worst thing about them is that I'm sure they don't think they've done anything wrong. Wall Street is a world of slugs and snakes and lemmings. I condemn all of them to continue to be what they are.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Writing Technique

More from The Devil's Guide to Hollywood:

Raymond Chandler: "Ideas are poison. The more you reason, the less you create."

Though Eszterhas notes: "Producer Ray Stark told screenwriter/novelist Jim Harrison that as a young agent one of his jobs was to get Raymond Chandler off the floor of his apartment, where he sometimes slept fully dressed in a drying pool of his own vomit."

Screenwriter Dan Harris (Imaginary Heroes): "My script is my head vomited up on paper."

Pp. 86, 147-8.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Getting Physical

More from The Devil's Guide to Hollywood for purposes of this on-going critical review:

Author Hunter S. Thomson: ' There is a ghastly political factor in doing any business with Hollywood. You can't get by without five or six personal staff people--and at least one personal astrologer. I have always hated astrologers, and I like to have sport with them. They are harmless quacks in the main, but some of them get ambitious and turn predatory, especially in Hollywood. In Venice Beach, I ran into a man who claimed to be Johnny Depp's astrologer .... I took his card and examined it carefully a moment as if I couldn't quite read the small print. But I knew he was lying, so I leaned toward him and slapped him sharply in the nuts. Not hard, but very quickly, using the back of my hand and my fingers like a bull whip, yet very discreetly. He let out a hiss and went limp, unable to speak or breathe."

P. 83

Friday, March 6, 2009

Story Conference

Eszterhas at a story conference with director Paul Verhoeven [Basic Instinct, et al.]:

I am the director, ja? You are the writer. You will do what I tell you to do.

If you use that tone of voice with me again, I'm going to come across this fucking table at you.

P. 59.

Noted In Passing

From Joe Eszterhas' The Devil's Guide to Hollywood:

"Screenwriter William Goldman [Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, etc.]: 'Directors--even though we all know from the media's portrayals of them that they are men and women of wisdom and artistic vision, masters of the subtle use of symbolism--are more often than not a bunch of insecure lying assholes."

New York: St. Martins, 2006, p. 51.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Printed Word

When I think of all the books I've read that have led to an absolute dead end, I have to wonder why I go on reading. As a wise person said: "If we knew what it was we were looking for, surely we would have found it long since."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Lemming Imperative

Greed is one cause of the US financial crisis. Another is the psychology of the upper classes, which is the psychology of lemmings. One neighborhood banker starts giving mortgages to anyone who walks into his bank wearing shoes, and boasts about it at a social gathering of his fellow and sister lemmings, and soon the banker across the street is doing the same thing, and then it spreads to the next town, and on and on across the country. Some would say competition is the underlying cause, but equally important is the lemming imperative. The a Wall Street investment banker decides to "securitize" a batch of the doomed sub-prime mortgages, creating a brand new investment instrument that some sucker get-rich-quick investor snaps up. The Wall Street "innovator" tells his fellow and sister lemmings about his "securitization" of sub-prime mortgages at one social function or another and soon they are doing the same thing themselves and the practice spreads and spreads. Because if the upper classes are anything, they are social animals. Business lunches and conventions and trade shows and charity balls and conferences and on and on, buzz, buzz, buzz, they all swap notes about what they're doing and all go home determined to be a mirror image of the people they've been socializing with. No matter that sub-prime mortgages are a profoundly stupid investment--if everyone else is doing it, I'm gonna do it too. From sea to shining sea, the lemmings squeal in delight at how interchangeable they are in their expensive suits and cars and houses.

And in their lack of anything approaching independent thinking.

And as to possessing a conscience, that's a non-issue.