ALLIGATORS IN A HELICOPTER

a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Saved Again

So a couple of months ago, my wife comes home from work with a screenplay that a co-worker wrote, that he wants me to read. Now this isn't the worst thing in the world; unlike my friend the doctor (who changes the conversation whenever I try to ask him about my aches and pains) I don't mind doing a free read now and then.

And best case scenario, the script is great. Because it's a perfect Hollywood story -- some guy toiling in an anonymous job writes the next great American screenplay, and gets it to powerless me, who is so blown away that I am able to use my Hollywood power (which is somewhere just under that of Spielberg's gardener's sister's florist's half-brother's girlfriend's dog) to get this great script into someone's hands who can get it into someone's hands who can get it to someone.

So there's hope. Until I open the cover.

Without having to write it here, suffice it to say that the first word of the two-word title is the N-Word. The 5-letter version, ending in the letter A.

The second word in the title is Jesus.

Dread is already racing down my spine.

It's only 58 pages long, which could be a break, except riffling through it reveals that the guy has the dialogue stretching from one side of the page to the other, and the scene description is in the middle, sort of like if it was a play, except it isn't.

It's amateur city.

I read the first couple of pages, already knowing what it is destined to be. Sure enough, it's a modern-day ghetto story in which a drunk Joe is angry that his wife Maria is pregnant, because even though they have been married for three years he has never had sex with her. As the (apparently not so bright) Joe puts it:

JOE
I got blue balls baby because we have
been married 3 years now and haven't
"constipated" it yet.

Quotation marks his.

I flip through, reading snatches of dialogue here and there. Yikes. My brain cells are already getting petitions together or hiding under their beds.

There's no way I can deal with this. I have a pile of scripts and books to read, plus at that time we were getting ready for the big move to Woodland Hills.

So the script disappears, into the big morass of packing boxes, and I forget all about it.

We make the move, and though I still can't find a lot of stuff, the script turns up. Sitting on a shelf, like something out of a Stephen King story, haunting me. My wife doesn't nag me about it -- she's done her job -- but every time I see it I remember what it is.

I sympathize with the readers who have to read slush pile stuff for a living. But I still don't read it. No time. No desire. But it sits there.

Waiting.

Waiting.

Waiting.

Then it happens.

Last night, my wife comes home, and says "Remember that guy who gave me the script for you to read?"

Oh no. Busted. I'm going to have to read it.

My brain cells are already drawing lots, preparing to be the ones who sacrifice themselves to read it. Little, infant brain cells are crying as daddy brain cell trudges off to do his duty.

But then she says it.

"The guy's a jerk. Don't read his script."

My brains cells are high-fiving each other, and hugging their families.

Saved again.

13 Comments:

At 11:30 AM, Anonymous JR said...

Good God, for a second I thought the story was going to end "... he just sold it."

 
At 11:33 AM, Blogger The Hopper said...

Thank God it didn't.

 
At 12:29 PM, Anonymous The Constipated Writer said...

What a horrible ordeal. I don't know if I could deal with being a reader...though if you offer me a job, I may take it.

Mind if I steal the following for my site? JOE
I got blue balls baby because we have
been married 3 years now and haven't
"constipated" it yet.


Tis hilarious!

 
At 2:47 PM, Blogger Grubber said...

Thanks for that Scott, but I dosympathise with Joe, I have been married for just on 9 years, and have yet to constipate with my wife.

Mind you, I think that is a good thing.

 
At 3:20 PM, Blogger Gary said...

For the next couple of weeks I'm reading for a Horror festival's screenplay contest so I know your pain. (Then again, my pain only lasts for a couple of weeks so I guess I can't complain.)

One of the scripts was written in what looks like Arial Narrow, which automatically turns me off.

Every time I try to pick it up again I put it down within a page or two because the formatting, spelling, and grammatical errors combine to form some sort of evil robot hell bent on raping my mind.

And the other script, while formatted properly, tried to hook me in the opening pages by mutilating kittens.

Needless to say, I haven't made it very far in that script either.

 
At 5:28 PM, Anonymous Norm said...

Geez, you'd think the amateur living in LA could at least get the format right. I can't go the beach without tripping over a dozen scripts and two bootlegs of Final Draft.

I read for a little while. I think every screenwrite wannabe should be required to. Just like how they make Police Officers get sprayed with the mace they're given, so they know what kind of damage it can do to another human being.

 
At 7:52 PM, Blogger The Awful Writer said...

With all the screenwriting books out there and all the info online these days there's just no excuse for an improperly formatted screenplay. It's hard to fathom why people still write them.

 
At 9:32 PM, Blogger writergurl said...

Awful, it's cause they're L.A.Z.Y!

Really, there's no excuse for an improperly formatted script.

Scott, you got soooo lucky!

 
At 5:38 AM, Blogger The Moviequill said...

I thought the punchline was going to be 'they sold it and it's now called Snakes On A Plane'

I love stories like this, because it gives me faith that maybe, just maybe, my excremental writing will indeed rise to the top of the shit heap, knowing that all that ka-ka is out there

 
At 5:03 PM, Blogger m said...

Though, you know, the title had me laughing my ass off for a minute...I heard Chris Rock saying it, waiting for me to calm down, and then saying it again.

Now find it and burn it.

 
At 5:11 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

I'm trying to figure out if there is some voodoo ritual I need to do to dispose of the thing.

Meanwhile, it. still. sits. on. the. shelf.

 
At 12:05 AM, Blogger Mark said...

Yeah, I thought she was gonna say "He sold it for a million," then I remembered that only happens in the movies.

On the flipside, have you ever read anything from a professional screenwriter that you had to do a double-take on?

Mark

BTW Thanks for the Link

 
At 1:43 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

I've read a few things by David Mamet that I was underwhelmed by, though I usually like his stuff. It wasn't terrible writing, it was just uninspired, while seeing his name on the cover leads to high expectations.

But I read terrible things in agency covers all the time, which makes me wonder how the writer got an agent. My theory is that they all wrote something once that had a great idea and sold (and was heavily rewritten by someone else), and thanks to that they can always get their stuff sent out all over, even though as writers they still have a lot to learn.

 

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