That Barton Fink Feeling

Yesterday an ad appeared in craigslist posted by someone who identified himself as a “hollywood [sic] producer” “looking for good content that would make a great movie.” Figuring I had just the good content he needed, I wasted no time and queried him regarding my noirish, feature-length screenplay Both Ends Burning. Less than three hours later (why can’t all Hollywood producers exhibit such alacrity?), I received this response, reprinted verbatim save for his salutation, my name, and his signature:

Thanks for the response. I read the information you sent me. This sort of writing is not for me. I will be straight up with you. I am in the industry of film making so that I can entertain people. The problem, these days, with Hollywood, is the very fact that everything they produce is crap. It is crap because it is filled with sex,violence and goor [sic]. I am not interested in producing something like this. Your writing seems interesting but when you think of a story that is origional [sic] and not filled with sex or violence, let me know. As you may know, this business is cut throt [sic]. Good working and keep on going.You wil [sic] get your break one day. Never give up.

This response saddened me on several levels:

  1. Another day goes by and I’m still not an acclaimed Hollywood screenwriter.
  2. It’s a tad disheartening knowing that my writing is being judged by someone who cannot spell the word gore (let alone will). (I find his misspelling of the word original, however, perversely satisfying and telling.) These are the people we encounter on the way to realizing our dreams.
  3. hollywood producer has appointed himself arbiter of good taste and knows that any film out of Hollywood is crap; any movie with sex is crap; any film containing violence is crap; and yes, any film with goor is crap.
  4. This implies that the film he is out to make, which will have nary a trace of sex, violence, or goor, will be just like any of the other films that are released devoid of sex, violence, and goor — most of which, ironically, hail from Hollywood. Which is to say, they’re safe, made my well-meaning people who think they’re giving the moviegoing audience what they want.
  5. Though he goes out of his way to distance himself from the Hollywood hacks he despises, he’s at one with them in that he places himself and his opinions above all others. He knows what’s best. And isn’t it interesting that, even though everything Hollywood produces is crap, he chooses to identify himself as a “hollywood producer”?
  6. hollywood producer indeed means well. Like Henry Gibson’s Haven Hamilton in Nashville singing “Keep A-Goin’,” after telling me in essence that my work is crap, he puts on a paternal air and assures me that one day my break will come.

As far as I’m concerned, I’ve gotten more than my share of breaks over the years. It’s up to me what to do with them. And that’s hard because, as we all know, this business is cut throt.

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