Computers will get faster, and we will get slower. There will be plenty of progress, but few of us will be any better off or happier for it. Robots won’t be sexy and dangerous, they’ll be dull and efficient, and they’ll take our jobs.
— Thom Andersen, Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003)
Watch the whole video essay here.
Making the rounds of Ye Olde Internet today is a story by one of the screen doctors brought in to help “elevate” the new Conan the Barbarian script mid-production. The writer likens watching your movie open to flopping status to watching your candidate fail at the polls. Of course no one ever shoots to lose, but this little nugget at the end was worth spreading thick on my bread before swallowing this morning.
Oftentimes, we’re all so obsessed with the image of failure, and the embarrassment of it, that we hardly realize that the people that get Wikipedia articles made for them by other people (either because they’re too busy just being badasses, or they’re dead, or what have you) are the same ones who stubbornly get back up on that horse and keep doing just what they were doing.
Sure, your ass smarts from taking it so big & hard.
But maybe, just maybe, keeping the blinders on and the mood elevated are just what the old Jewish doctor ordered.
From the words of Sean Hood:
I know that those who have read my Conan shooting script agree that much of the work I did on story and character never made it to screen. I myself know that given the difficulties of rewriting a script in the middle of production, I did work that I can be proud of. But its still much like doing great work on a losing campaign. All anyone in the general public knows, all anyone in the industry remembers, is the flop. A loss is a loss.
But one thought this morning has lightened my mood:
My father is a retired trumpet player. I remember, when I was a boy, watching him spend months preparing for an audition with a famous philharmonic. Trumpet positions in major orchestras only become available once every few years. Hundreds of world class players will fly in to try out for these positions from all over the world. I remember my dad coming home from this competition, one that he desperately wanted to win, one that he desperately needed to win because work was so hard to come by. Out of hundreds of candidates and days of auditions and callbacks, my father came in….second.
It was devastating for him. He looked completely numb. To come that close and lose tore out his heart. But the next morning, at 6:00 AM, the same way he had done every morning since the age of 12, he did his mouthpiece drills. He did his warm ups. He practiced his usual routines, the same ones he tells his students they need to play every single day. He didn’t take the morning off. He just went on. He was and is a trumpet player and that’s what trumpet players do, come success or failure.
Less than a year later, he went on to win a position with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he played for three decades. Good thing he kept practicing.
So with my father’s example in mind, here I sit, coffee cup steaming in its mug and dog asleep at my feet, starting my work for the day, revising yet another script, working out yet another pitch, thinking of the future (the next project, the next election) because I’m a screenwriter, and that’s just what screenwriters do.
In the words of Ed Wood, “My next one will be BETTER!”