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A lot of beautiful artwork this week.  These were my favorites…

Avengers #690 (cover art by Mark Brooks)

Babyteeth #10 (cover art by Garry Brown)

Star Wars: Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith, vol. 2 (cover art by Giuseppe Camuncoli)

Darth Vader #15 (cover art by Elia Bonetti and Giuseppe Camuncoli)

Doom Patrol #11 (cover art by Nick Derington)

Insiders, vol. 7 (cover art by Renaud Garreta)

Mother Panic: Gotham A.D. #2 (cover art by Paulina Ganucheau, Ibrahim Moustafa)

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #19 (cover art by Emilio Laiso)

The Beef #3 (cover art by Ross Hell, Shaky Kane)

The Mighty Thor #706 (cover art by Russell Dauterman)

Wonder Woman #45 (cover art by Bryan Hitch, David Yardin)

X-Men: Domino (cover art by Ken Lashley)

X-O Manowar #14 (cover art by Ariel Olivetti)

 

About a year ago, I touched on one of the most inscrutable aspects of film and television production: the mysterious producer credit.  On any given movie or t.v. series, it’s fairly easy to identify the respective roles of actors, directors, writers, camera persons, and crafts service personnel – but when it comes to identifying a producer’s value-input, things get…murkier.  The truth, as I’ve stated in a previous blog entry, is that a producer’s duties can range from almost everything to absolutely nothing at all.  The title can be a distinction that accurately reflects an individual’s contribution to a particular production, or it can be little more than a vanity credit offered to placate shiftless dolts.

Most producers produce, either through the securement of financial backing, closing deals, making sales, bringing talent to the table, casting, prepping, or having an overall guiding hand in a given production.  Occasionally, however, there will be those few producers who will prove more a liability than an asset (or simply just an ass), individuals who must be humored, entertained and, most importantly, contained.  They go by varied official onscreen credits but tend to  fall under approximately five unofficial titles.

For your edification, these are The Five Producers You Meet In Hell…

The Pigeon Producer: So-called because this individual will fly in out of nowhere, often at the eleventh hour, shit all over everything, then fly away, leaving you to clean up the mess.

Dealing with the Pigeon Producer: Ensure they sign off on aspects of production early and often.  Keep a paper trail.

The Hopelessly Out-Of-Touch Producer: This individual will offer production notes and suggestions completely at odds with with the tone of your show – or the era.  Sometimes it will be a totally incongruent “funny” line of dialogue; other times, a tone deaf recommendation for our male protagonist to deliver an affection slap to his female counterpart’s ass as a means of conveying his incorrigible roguishness.

Dealing with the Hopelessly Out-Of-Touch Producer: Remain stone-faced then segue to overt embarrassment in response to all humorous suggestions.  In the case of the inappropriate proposals, gently remind them that their time machine overshot the 70’s by roughly thirty years.

The Post-Mortem Producer: Never to be found during prep or actual production, this individual will invariably appear after the fact to critique decisions made and work performed, bolstering the implicit assumption that –

Dealing with the Post-Mortem Producer: You can argue all you want but these individual tend to be relentless in their Monday through Saturday morning quarterbacking and you run risk dying the death of a thousand cuts.  Laud their tardy acumen and move on.

The Big Idea Producer: Beware this individual with their insupportable creative visions based on dreams, a recent magazine read, or the questionable input of a close family member.  When you hear the preamble “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?”, you know it’s time to head for the door.

Kevin Smith’s infamous experience with the Big Idea Producer – Part 1 and Part 2

Dealing with the Big Idea Producer: Attempt to counter with logic.  Follow-up by dialing in other heavyweights (fellow producers, creative executives) in the hopes that the weight of communal bewilderment and the ensuing embarrassment will sink this individual’s giant spider aspirations.

The Clueless Producer: The worst of the worst, this individual enjoys the credit and power of a producer despite their shocking lack of even the most rudimentary understanding of how production works.  The Clueless Producer may, for instance, lament the time wasted on such frivolous indulgences as second unit photography, visual effects, and prep week.

Dealing with the Clueless Producer: You laugh and congratulate them on their sense of humor and discreetly move on.  If that fails to dissuade them, you may have to question their competency and, as a last recourse, their sanity.

“How could this happen? I was so careful. I picked the wrong play, the wrong director, the wrong cast. Where did I go right?”

– Max Bialystock, The Producers

Read these Fantastic 50(ish) Books and thank me later…

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Affinity by Sarah Waters

Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher

Camp Concentration by Thomas M. Disch

City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer

City of Thieves by David Benioff

Cutter and Bone by Newton Thornburg

Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

Eifelheim by Michael F. Flynn

Fear and Trembling by Amelie Nothomb

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Fool by Christopher Moore

Get Carter by Ted Lewis

Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

How To Behave In A Crowd by Camille Bordas

I.Q. by Joe Ide

Lexicon by Max Barry

Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny

Misery by Stephen King

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin

Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Postmortal by Drew Margary

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Shadow & Claw by Gene Wolfe

Sharpe’s Tiger by Bernard Cornwell

Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo

The Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill

The Dark Beyond the Stars by Frank M. Robinson

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

The Regional Office is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Scar by China Mieville

The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford

The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon

The Troop by Nick Cutter

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

The Winter of Frankie Machine by Don Winslow

Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

You by Caroline Kepnes

Congratulations.  You’ve just wrapped up your very first round of Hollywood meet-and-greets, sit-downs with production and broadcast executives all over town, and if there is one indisputable fact you can take away from the glorious experience it’s this: Everyone wants to work with you!

It’s true!  They said as much in their unbridled enthusiasm for you, your work, and your pitch for that zombie legal series.  They said it in their spirited suggestion that you would be perfect for some of the projects they have in development.  They said it insofar as they actually said: “We want to work with you!” and maybe even: “We want to be in the [insert your full name here] business!”.

So, in all fairness, you can be forgiven for actually believing it – you poor, deluded fool.

You go home, excitedly debrief with your agent/manager/friend/cute barista who never gets your name right (but you read somewhere that they do it on purpose to engender social media buzz, so you don’t take offense), then lie awake that night considering your mountainous prospects.  Damn, you’re going to be busy.  You might want to consider rescheduling that trip to Sugarloaf.

Or maybe not because, in truth, you’re not going to be that much busier.  On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being significantly less busy and 10 being much, MUCH busier, you’re at about a “No idea because you misplaced your scale but you’re not that surprised because that’s the way your week’s been going.”

Oh, sure.  You sent out those scripts, followed up with some emails, polite at first, then friendly and, eventually, lighthearted and humorous like a comedian’s Thursday afternoon shift at a palliative care unit.  In some cases, you may grow despondent and ask your agent to follow up for you.  This, more often than not, yields, not a response, but the addition of a whole other layer of unresponsiveness.

But in some instances, you DO receive a response.  And, in case you were curious, these are their hidden meanings:

Unfortunately, we’re already developing something similar. (Translation: I can’t be bothered to read your script as my time is better spent attending meaningless meetings).

I kicked it upstairs.  I’ll let you know when I hear anything. (Translation: I can’t be bothered to read your script, so I’m going to string things along in the hopes that you either give up and stop pursuing the matter or one of us dies).

I kicked it upstairs.  Unfortunately, they passed.  (Translation: They can’t be bothered to read your script either as their time is better spent attending meaningless meetings).

It’s not for us. (Translation: Your script was so poor and unintentionally hilarious that we held an impromptu read-thru in the lunch room.  Our new temp, Hazel, played the part of the jaguar).

It’s too similar to [established series]. (Translation: It’s too similar to the show we have in development that is a carbon copy of [established series].)

No one’s buying anthologies. (Translation: No one’s buying anthologies).

But before you pack up your laptop, dog-eared copy of Syd Field’s Screenplay, and that stack of color-coded index cards on which you’ve assiduously tracked the emotional arcs of every one of your main characters, hold up.  All hope is not lost, only a lot of your time and a small piece of your sanity, because this is just the reality of the business.  People will tell you they want to work with you because they honestly DO want to work with you – eventually, should you prove successful down the line working with someone else first.  No one wants to burn bridges.  Rather, they simply wish to invite you to cross at a later date and then sneak away under cover of darkness so that, upon your return, you discover the toll booth unmanned. It’s not a no. It’s an enthusiastic YES – somewhere in the not too distant future.

Over time, and repeated visits, you will get to know these people, form relationships with them and, should fortune smile upon you, actually work with them. Maybe you’ll develop a show for them that won’t go anywhere, or come up with a take for an adaptation that will ultimately go to some other writer.  The possibilities are truly endless.  So don’t despair and don’t give up!

But do throw away those index cards with the detailed emotional arcs.  Seriously.

Honestly, growing up, I never aspired to be in show business.  From a very early age, my ambitions were relatively simple.  I wanted to tell stories or investigate crimes or explore outerspace.  Author, Detective, Astronaut – those were my top three choices.  I didn’t even consider scriptwriting until a friend suggested I give it a go after reading the thoroughly middling first draft of the novel I wrote back in college.  Taking his advice, I picked up Syd Field’s Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting and learned everything I needed to know, then got to work, magically transforming that mediocre first novel into an equally mediocre first script.  But it was a start.

Over the course of my twenty-three years in the entertainment field, I’ve written over 120 hours of produced television (not including uncredited rewrites), produced over 400 hours, scripted animation, teen sitcoms, action-adventure, drama, science fiction, and comic books – and amassed innumerable anecdotes, from the hilarious to the disheartening to the mind-blogglingly preposterous.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I’m going to regale you with some of the more memorable (aka = outrageous) tales of my time in trenches.  Wherever necessary, names will be changed or withheld to protect the childish, the cretinous, and the egregiously egotistical.

#Ghosting

#PigeonProducer

#IsThisEarthsMoon

 

Yesterday, I redirected my thoughts off all this recent unpleasantness to focus on my birthday gal.

We kicked things off with an early morning surprise – a present, lovingly wrapped in cardboard and tape, compliment so the fine folks at Amazon.  For Akemi = the two bottles of Thann wood essential oils that actually smell more like orange, but what do I know.

(Trivia: This was on her Christmas list but I failed to get them for her, so I got her two for her birthday to make up for the oversight!)

Then, we hit the gym where Akemi ran through her usual low intensity workout while I multi-tasked: running, watching sports highlights, and learning Japanese.

(Trivia: A three minute jog is enough to completely Akemi and have her complaining about sore legs for days!)

Then, it was time for our morning walk –

(Trivia: If Suji doesn’t have her boots on by 10:30 a.m. at the latest, she will cry until we eventually give in and take her out).

For lunch, we hit Momofuku for bao’s and crack pie –

(Trivia: Former Stargate EP Robert Cooper makes a fantastic home made version!)

From there, we headed to the Shangri-la hotel spa for our one hour couple’s massage and 15 minute head treatment:

(Trivia:

We headed back home to feed the dogs, and then it was time to dress up and head out once again –

(Trivia: Back in Vancouver, Akemi vowed to throw out her favorite boots after Bubba peed on them.  But now that Bubba’s gone, those boots are a fond – and cleaned – remembrance of him.)

We hit our favorite Toronto sushi spot: Yasu Sushi-Bar

Oshikatta!


(Trivia: Every sushi meal ends with the egg omelet, tamago.  Akemi is a big fan of the edges they usually trim away.  When they ask us if we’d like anything else, I’ll usually order a couple of extra pieces of uni for me, and those discarded edges for Akemi.  They’re called hashiko in Japanese.  Thus, when we go out for sushi, I refer to her as Hashiko-chan).

On our way home, we pass by a new dessert place and decide to drop in and check it out.

We order the ube soft serve that tastes like pandan and coconut, but is delicious nevertheless.

(Trivia: Akemi is so obsessed with Hong Kong waffle cones that she actually wants to visit Hong Kong so that she can sample the originals).

Otanjobi omedetto gozaimasu yo!

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