Well folks, it’s that time a year again. You guessed it, it’s time for established screenwriters to shit on, according to them, the scum of the Earth… Script Consultants.
And by “Established Screenwriters” I mean… Craig Mazin.
After catching up on all of the drama last week (and apparently still going on), I thought I’d throw my two cents in to the ring. To make it easier to read, I’m going to break this up into parts…
If you’re out of the loop, then let me give you the quick and dirty version of what went down. Apparently, (read about it, didn’t hear it directly) Craig on his Scriptnotes Podcast, trashed consultants and told his listeners that, and I’m paraphrasing here, paying for people to read your shit is dumb and you’re a stupid head if you do. I think he also said that books are stupid and people who write books are stupid and we’re all going to burn in hell. I think that was it.
Needless to say, that didn’t go down very well with all the people who get paid to read your shit. (Craig’s “words,” not mine.)
Several consultants fired back. Some tried the “can’t we all get along” approach… promoting that “writing is for everyone…” and “here’s a flower… express yourself!” Followed by some other hippie stuff.
While others went with a more direct approach of: “CRAIG MAZIN IS A LIAR AND A CULT LEADER!”
Which caused other established writers to fire back with: “I’m trying hard NOT to be mean, but fuck all you consultants in the ear!”
This caused your everyday, this-is-not-my-day-job-writers to join in the fray. Those that worshiped at the church of Mazin, jumped on the consultant hate speech bandwagon. Some actually took to Twitter to attack consultants on a personal level. So sad.
On the other side, those who want to believe the path of righteousness lays in the hands of the consultant… quickly jumped to their defense. Preaching the words of McKee after they took his “weekend retreat.” A retreat, I heard, that ends with everyone gathering and drinking Kool-Aid together. Allegedly. Don’t quote me.
No matter which side of the coin you rest on, I think you can agree… shit got bloody.
What do I have to say that hasn’t already been said? A lot actually but let me preface my opinion before I start.
First. I have interacted with Craig Mazin once. I found him to be very kind and totally NOT an asshole. There was no reason why he should have ever given me the time of day. I am, in his world, considered a “nobody.” I hit him up on Twitter, he responded. We exchanged a couple of emails. Never in that time did I feel like he was better than me or that I was insignificant. After that exchange, he never contacted me and I never contacted him. There was no need, nor did I expect that all of a sudden we were best buds.
So I don’t have any issue with Craig Mazin.
I have also interacted with John August on a similar level and have met him a couple of times. I found him to be completely genuine and extremely nice.
But I don’t listen to their podcast.
Not because I believe they give out bad information… it’s just not information that I really need any more. That’s not arrogance talking, I’ve just simply evolved past it. Plus, and this comes from a guy that listens to a LOT of podcasts and even had himself one once… I gotta say, I find them kinda boring. Even when they’re passionate about something, they’re not very excited to talk about it. It always sounded like the podcast was a chore rather than something they liked to do.
Not everyone can be Chris Hardwick or Kevin Smith.
On the flip side, I have also met, interacted and befriended several consultants. I don’t always agree with their message or their tactics, but I “get it.”
Just to put everything on front street, I have never sought out a consultant and I have never paid for coverage. So I can’t tell you if either is worth anyone’s time or money.
I don’t say that to be shitty… I’m just letting you know where I’m coming from. I have heard from writers that have had very positive experiences with consultants and I also know other writers who live by paying for coverage. It’s just something I have never felt I needed.
The second thing I want to preface are my credentials. This won’t make sense right away, but gimmie a couple of minutes and let me get there.
I have a masters degree in screenwriting from Ohio University. I interned at both Winkler Films and Kopelson Entertainment as a reader. From there I was hired by Kopelson to work as an assistant and I bullied my way into the position of story editor. There I was involved, albeit limited, in several scripts that were in development. I read them. Gave notes. Heard opinions.
I have attended numerous pitchfests for Kopelson. Heard hundreds of pitches and read my fair share of scripts. It’s because of this I was offered a column in the Business of Show newsletter. The column led to a successful podcast with listeners from all over the world.
From Kopelson I went to Final Draft to work in their Marketing Department. One of my job duties was to act as a liaison between Final Draft and events seeking sponsorship from Final Draft. I attended several film festivals as a Final Draft representative.
I’m currently the Creative Executive for Barnyard Media. A small up and coming production company. While no big hits have come from us yet, we are on the cusp of having several projects take off. (The development game is a slow one.)
I am also a full-time writer. I have never sold a script, but I have two scripts in development with producers. I do not have a manager and I do not have an agent. So far, that has been by choice. I have had opportunities but didn’t feel the managers and agents I have met with were a good fit for me.
Why give my resume? Couple of reasons…
The biggest reason is to showcase the fact that I’m not an idiot. I know my shit. My entire experience, in school and in Hollywood, has been in development. I have never worked on the production side of things (besides student films) nor have I ever worked in a talent agency. Although I have met with and spoken to a slew of managers and agents who have tried to get me their client’s material.
My point is… screenwriting is my thing. I know it. I love it. I breath it.
Think of Hollywood like the government. There are three branches. Development (Executive), Production (Judicial) and Agencies (Legislative). Each is its own beast with its own rules and own way of doing things. Yet all of them fall under the same umbrella of government. You can KNOW things about another branch, but it doesn’t mean that you can offer any advice to people IN THAT branch.
Sure, production folks know themselves a script, and maybe have even written one, but it’s not what they do day in and day out. They don’t interact with agents and managers. They don’t really deal with other writers unless it’s with other writers who are usually in the same boat they are. (a.k.a. writer’s groups… more on this later.)
The other reason is: I’m about to destroy all of those credentials.
Stay tuned for part 2…