Hollywood guide for artists

Paul Ryan

Writing in Hollywood


Writer: You said Modern Family’s writing staff is looking for spec scripts, right? I wrote a great one! It’s really funny.


Agent: Give me an outline for it.


Writer: Well the family decides to-


Agent: No, I mean give me a written outline, 8-12 pages long, detailing all the plot points. Nobody reads full scripts.


Writer: Just an outline with the plot points and jokes?


Agent: No jokes. Just plot points.


Writer: You don’t want me to write anything? How will you know if my work is funny?


Agent: Plot points can be funny. Like those classic sitcom episodes where a guy has two dates on the same night, and has to run back and forth between them. You should write an outline where Manny has two dates on the same night!


Writer: Jesus Christ.


Agent: No religious stuff. It clashes with all the jokes about characters accidentally drinking semen.


Writer: Are we still talking about Modern Family?


Agent: Not yet, but probably around season five.


Writer:So if they like the outline, they’ll have me write a full script?


Agent: Nah. The staff writers for the show will flesh it out themselves.


Writer: There’s not a lot of passion for good writing out here, is there?

Agent: Nah. Takes too long to read.


Writer: Yeah, but ideas are a dime a dozen. Good execution is where the talent lies: Clever dialogue, funny jokes, unique characters. Anyone can think up a useable premise. So what’s the purpose? Why am I even bothering with this?


Agent: (writes down a number on a sheet of paper) Here’s how much you’ll get paid if they use your outline.


Writer: (eyes bulge out of his head) I’ll have an outline for you within the hour.



Acting in Hollywood


Production Assistant:Thirty minutes until we shoot.


Actress:I love acting. I love the process. You study the character, BECOME the character, live the character’s life until you’re ONE WITH THEM.


Production Assistant: I don’t care. The studio pays me in coupons.


Actress: I’ve spent the past two months BECOMING this troubled mahjong addict. I learned to speak Japanese. I studied calligraphy. I memorized all 10,000 characters of all three script sets of the Japanese alphabet. I drank my own pee so I’d know how the character felt when she does it.


Production Assistant: (looks at phone) Coordinator says they just did a rewrite of your scene. Your character is now a Canadian gymnast.


Actress: I have twenty minutes. I will BECOME a Canadian-


Production Assistant: (looks at phone) Whoops, never mind. They rewrote it again. Now you’re an obese Mormon who can smell the AIDS virus.


Actress: Are you making this up?


Production Assistant: Nope. There’s like 700 executives at this studio, and they all give multiple pages of notes. Sometimes the writers have to get creative to keep everyone happy.

Actress: Well, I’ve still got some time. I could do some internet research. Are Mormons the ones who dress up in furry costumes to get aroused?


Production Assistant: (looks at phone) Sometimes, but it doesn’t matter. They changed it again. You’re now a slut.


Actress: I can do that. I’ve been an actress in Hollywood for years.


Production Assistant: Good thing. It’s only two minutes before we shoot. (looks at phone) Scratch that. The final script just came out, and you’re now a nuclear physicist who specializes in the reaction theory of light clusters on heavy nuclei.


Actress: Well then, I guess I’ll just totally bullshit my way through this entire role.


Production Assistant: Yeah, that’s how it usually goes.



Directing in Hollywood


Director: I’ve maxed out ten credit cards and borrowed over $80,000 from my relatives and close personal friends just so I can shoot this independent film. My friends and family have disowned me. I can’t remember the last time I slept or had a sit-down meal. Now I’m going to mail the final product to every agent in town, and they’ll all be blown away by my creativity and talent!


***Two weeks later***


Agent: A DVD? What the hell? I don’t have time for this shit.


The agent tosses the DVD on his assistant’s desk.


Assistant: Ugh. I get 40 of these a day and they’re all shitty.


The agent tosses the DVD on the intern’s desk. The intern puts the DVD in his computer.


Intern: Ninety minutes?! It’s a full-length film? Fuck this.


The intern throws the DVD in the garbage.