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Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Spoonful of Vinegar

Here is the Terry Rossio column from Wordplay about throwing in the towel that Luzid mentioned in a comment. It is spot-on but a very painful read. It highlights the stark difference, in my view, between how it feels to receive information in a harsh or stern way versus a softer, more playful way. It goes down hard but it's the Awful Truth. Cupcake for the first Waver to correctly identify the two actors in that delightful romcom without looking it up first. Like I could tell the difference, but you'll know, won't you? Down deep?

Back to the topic at hand. Here's a little dose of alpha male piss and vinegar for you Wavers who'd appreciate a shot of something more bracing than cupcakes. Personally, I felt a bit awful after I read this. But the man speaks the truth. He doesn't remember this but I met him at a screenwriting class at UCLA once.* It was just before Pirates hit the big screen and his life changed forever. Wonder if he'd have written this differently had the movie not hit. Like it wasn't going to. Shuh.

*correction no, no, it was TED I met. Ted. Terry. Terry. Ted. Scratch that last observation. Damn my cupcake memory!

Throwing in the Towel by Terry Rossio


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11 comments:

Christina said...

I just watched the Awful Truth a few days ago at the recommendation of a friend. Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. I liked it a lot - it was really funny - felt like 20 years old, not 70 (!!!!!!) years old.

Anthony Peterson said...

I actually thought that article was very encouraging.

I actually DD have a book case full of Churchill, Machiavelli, Voltaire, Plato, St Augustine, Moses and a few other landmarks of human thought.

I think I checked off about 80% of that cranky guys list - and thats good enough for me.

Back to writing...

Julie Gray said...

Cupcake for you, Christina! Great movie, isn't it? I love romcoms of that era. LOVE 'EM!!

Anonymous said...

Just one minor correction: Terry Rossio was a very successful screenwriter before the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN trilogy. He's been a working screenwriter for around 20 years. He and his partner Ted Elliot wrote ALADDIN, SHREK, THE MASK OF ZORRO, among other successful movies. He wrote that column many years before the first PIRATES movies came out.

It never fails to provoke a lot of bad feeling whenever anyone brings it up on the Wordplayer forum.

Personally, I was never was bothered by it (maybe because I studied film and worked in the industry for many years, so I could comfortably check off a lot of that list, too) but it sure does get a lot of people defensive. But then, a lot of people cling to the idea that "anyone" can write, of that it doesn't require much of a learning curve to write a screenplay.

Terry can be a jerk sometimes, but not about screenwriting. He tells it like it is on that subject.

BTW, I love your blog, Julie. Like you said in the other thread, you have a different style, but you tell it like it is, too. And anyone who gives out cupcakes is a star, in my book. :->

Julie Gray said...

Anonymous, I don't know how old you are, but I have a plethora of senior moments and that was one of them. I met TED not TERRY. God. How embarrassing. :)

Did that post cause a stir at the time? I can see that it might. Yes, it is so frustrating the short shrift the art and craft of GOOD screenwriting is given. It truly is not something just anyone can do. Even if you read every book in the world on it. In my travels, I have come across many writers who have...how you say? Almost a fetish about knowing every academic thing there is to know about screenwriting. But they are bad writers. It's interesting.

Christina said...

Do I really get a cupcake? I mean, when I finally meet you in person, will you actually give me a cupcake? The only thing I don't like about your blog is that every time I visit, I see a picture of cupcakes and then I want one. Cupcakes are one of my MAJOR weaknesses. I can pass up a cookie, I can pass up a brownie. I cannot, for the love of God, pass up a cupcake!

Julie Gray said...

You certainly do, Christina. When you come down to LA, it's you, me and a little trip to Crumbs on Larchmont. Howzat? :)

E.C. Henry said...

Julie, just read Terry's column through your link. And I'm left thinking, "Wow, the newbie writers Terry has been spending time with sure have worn him down."

Geesh, you'd with all the success the guy's had he'd be ABOVE writing a column like that. I feel for the guy. Sounds like he's lost the heart and patience neccessary to help newbies in the buisness.

Terry's a GREAT WRITER. And I think the world of him for putting himself out there to help others, BUT you have to know your limits and when it's in your own best interests to step away from the madness.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

Désirée said...

Is that post by Terry old? I remember I read articles on that site several years ago when I still knew too little about what I was doing. And I read an article like that then.

Why have the site in the first place if that is the reaction to the result? I can understand him, sure, but why hoist it out at everybody in that way?

Christian M. Howell said...

Ha. I remember that article from last year (when I read it). I think it helped me realize that I just need to find the guy who likes my particular brand of crap and I'm good.

Fortunately, I have a good job (just got a promotion) so this is not something I need to pay bills or live well. It is the pit of my soul though. it's what I think about in the morning and when I go to sleep at night.

I see camera angles in my sleep and hear ADR in my nightmares. Someone has to yell cut before I can slice my roast beef and I'm happiest when I'm writing reflection scenes for beautiful women.

I may suck as a writer but I excel at research. I'm in the depths of the Time-Image now and will soon be moving to cinematography (though I have no desire to operate a camera).

I just love that I can find some PhD or guru that told me to put that crap in my script and make it even crappier.

Damn them.

Christina said...

Oh cool! I look forward to it.