Friday, May 21, 2010

Me and IMDB

Funny thing happens when conflict occurs. My readership doubled in 2 days. This of course, relates to the phone book incident.

To clear things up about me, although many of you out there know me very well, I will explain my career span. I usually say it's around 30 to 35 years, depending on who's listening. But anyone who reads my bio knows I started in 1969.

Most of you weren't born yet. Or at least some of you.

My first job was at a local TV station, in the mailroom and over the course of 4 years rose to newsfilm camera and sound. After that I did commercials and documentaries up to 1979. In 1980 I wrote and directed my first feature, Ghostkeeper. That was followed by several Canadian TV  movies and series.

Now I don't know how many of  you can describe events 20 to 30 years ago in sequence, I sure can't. I always make mistakes. But there is no mistake in my "body of work". And all my credits aren't on IMDB. In fact this series I'm blogging can only be found by title, but it's not on my imdb credits. I also did some work on MacGyver but not much came of that and I didn't add it either.

Do I care? This might be hard for younger hipster doofus writers to understand but it really doesn't matter to me that much. I have enough credits on imdb to feel secure about, some good, some bad, some mediocre.

So what's IMDB.

For those who don't know, IMDB or Internet Movie Data Base, was started in England some years ago and has grown to be "the" movie industry guide. You can find out information about almost anybody, what they did, who's their agent, which gaffer was on which movie. It's the quickest way to find out if someone you're arguing with actually has made a series or movie. It's the new b.s. detector.

IMDB is mostly about actors, writers and directors but listings of crew are there as well. In addition there are "reviews" by odd people who I'm sure live in their parent's basement take the time to write what they think a movie is about.  My movie Ghostkeeper has some really good reviews, and also some that say it's the worst movie ever made.

And adding and/or changing a credit is a task in itself. They make it almost impossible as I found out when I attempted to correct an episode of Highlander which had a crew member as author of that script rather than me. It took almost 3 months and even then, was done by someone in an imdb forum.

I have one movie in development on IMDB, Ghosts of Odessa, which is legit. I also have been developing, including Travel Day, the movie this blog started out with, and a smaller feature for which I'm workshopping with actors presently. I didn't put them on IMDB because they weren't really being made, just hopefuls.

This is where IIMDB fails, in my estimation. Because anyone can post their movie as an "in development" category even if it's just a guy with a script. IMDB tries to separate the real productions from the ones that just want to have their name on IMDB.

So, for the record I have been in the business for 41 years, although my screenwriting career was only 29 years, but my film camera work was 8 years, although I still do it now and then for my documentaries. My documentary career started in 1973...

You can see where I'm going... so don't ask me when I did Lightning Force or Mom P.I, or Odyssey or any other unless you have a specific reason. Then I can go to IMDB and look it up.

And here's where the job descriptions begin to blurr. What makes it a little more complicated is that I'm not just a screenwriter, I also have worked as a TV newscameraman and soundman. I photographed several short films,  two of which won international awards. I wrote and produced and directed around 500 commercials and a handful of corporate films and documentaries.

So when someone asks me how long I've been writing, it's a complicated answer. Generally I go to 1980, when I wrote my first feature. TV work didn't start till 1992. So I can say I've been in the "business" since 1969 but I didn't start writing movies and TV until 1980.

Another reason I don't like go back too far is the most obvious. I'm past the magic age of 39, after which writers and actors and even directors begin to get grey. To my friends I've worked 41 years, to a prospective employer I've been around for 25 or 30 years.

In fact a recent age discrimination lawsuit has been settled in which some major agencies and production companies will pay millions to writers for age discrimination.

As far as the series in this blog (which isn't in my IMDB credits either)  it happened like I say it did, the characters, whose  names have been changed, are real and they were like that. The show lasted two seasons and it's ratings were horrible and at least I escaped at the end of the first season.

As far as differences between a series written in the 1990's vs now, nothing's really changed any more than if it were 1920. We just have iPhones and satellite TV, the business remains the same. Anybody who thinks different is either naive or delusional. 

(Mon: Back to the series)