Another "aren't we wonderful" awards show is over and only the big one left on Sunday, February 24th. I dvr'd it so I could catch the awards I wanted to see, mainly best actor, best supporting actors (male and female) as they like to say. Goes back to Shakespeare's day when all actors were male.
With all the thanking going on it made me think about me. Well, actually me as in "writer". We're a little more different than any other person in the movie business.
We work alone.
Nobody to cheer us on, no group hugs, no nothing. Just a white screen in front of us waiting for our brilliant (or not so brilliant) words to be invented. I always thought that if I ever win anything I would simply say this:
"I'd like to thank somebody but actually I did it all by myself"
And writers do it by themselves. Sure, we might have a producer harassing us, or the occasional actor asking for more great lines, but generally we are alone in a room. Not counting those who "write" at Starbucks, we call that performance art.
So what happens when writers win. They thank their producer, not for his help but rather to have hired us. And we thank the actors of course, for not screwing it up too much, and finally we thank our spouses and families and hope they won't complain if our next five screenplays don't sell.
But you can bet at the bottom of all this, we know that nobody would have had a job if it weren't for us. You can't make a movie without a story. So how do we have awards shows. Well, it's usually in a tent or hall somewhere and not covered by TV cameras because, after all, we're just the writers.
We're not like those scam Golden Globes which consist of around 75 foreign critics who sell their words to studios who give them freebies and trips. And we're not actors who get to dress up pretty and think the world revolves around them.
Am I bitter? Naw... here's why. I get to make the movie first.
About fifteen years ago I was working on a TV series in Vancouver as a writer/senior story editor. I had written an episode that started like this;
EXT. CHINATOWN - NIGHT
Neon lights reflect on the wet dark streets of Chinatown as a soft rain mists across the steam rising from sidewalk grates. A man steps into streetlight, lost and disheveled… a desperate character.
Okay, so that’s the first scene in the screenplay I wrote. As I stood there I watched a crew of about forty people working in the rain, setting up lights, moving cars, putting up traffic signs, raising rain tents. Gaffers ran past me and actors were led to their trailers. Then an A.D. I knew walked up and looked at the street with all the busy crewmembers and then turned to me and grinned;
“It’s all for you Jim.”
At that moment, he said what I already knew, all I did was write a handful of words and now a made-up shining city was coming to life and getting ready to make my dream come true.
Nobody can take that away from me.