Thursday, May 17, 2007

Confessions of an Asshole

Last week a friend of mine snapped and unleashed on me out of nowhere. Literally in mid-conversation, he drops a bomb on me: You're an asshole. There was a lot more to it, and other words were thrown around - but that was the one that stuck with me most.

You're an asshole.

That night, I thought long and hard about what that word meant - both to him and to me.

To him, I was an asshole because I would poke fun at the ridiculous things I'd come across in this online screenwriting world of ours. Stuff like that "Genuine Insanity" post below. This guy is so nice that it gives me a toothache most days, so it didn't surprise me that my aggressive, cynical nature would eventually get to him.

What did surprise me was the fact I was comfortable with it.

I am an asshole.

The screenwriting world seems to be built around a foundation of fear and self-doubt - one that isn't very conducive to success. The moment you even start to think about this as a career choice, you're inundated with so many cliches and mantras that your head spins.

Your first screenplay will suck.

Your first ten screenplays will suck.

It can take years for you to break in.

And we buy into it. Not only do we buy into it, but we take it to heart. We become self-conscious about our writing. Then that opens the door for these vultures who offer "script analysis" and "consulting" services with barely a credit to their name - because of the fact that we're being conditioned, right from the start, to fail.

Don't get me wrong. I don't reject these things outright.

For example, there are genuine people out there willing to read your script and give you honest feedback for a fair fee - like Scott the Reader.

I also don't deny that my first screenplay needs a lot of work. Because it does. I don't even deny that my second screenplay will need a lot of work. Or my third.

What I do reject is this notion that it's somehow foolhardy for us to go into this expecting to succeed. That is bullshit. If you don't think that you can write, and write well, then you shouldn't be doing this in the first place. If you're not going into this thinking you'll be great - you're doing yourself a disservice.

Believe that you can write something outstanding. Believe that you will sell the very first thing you write. Believe that you can succeed at this if you just put yourself out there and try.

Believe in yourself.

Don't expect your first screenplay to suck. If it does suck, figure out why, and do it better the next time. But don't go into this expecting to fail. Go into it thinking you're bringing in a fresh point of view. If it takes you twenty tries to get it right, so be it - but don't expect it to.

If it makes me an asshole to be confident and expect to succeed, then I proudly admit to being one.

And you should too.

Now my friend and I have long since kissed and made up.

But I'm still an asshole.


Matt Hader said...

You're not THAT much of an asshole...

Christina Shaver said...

For me, it seems like there is a lot of room for screenwriting and film making these days. With the advent of YouTube and the continually growing nature of media online, there will always be a place for screenwriters.

Are there thousands of people out there trying their hand? Yes. Are there only a handful of mainstream movies made every year? Yes. Those are facts we can't get around.

But if you're open minded and write because of a desire and passion for writing, whether or not a studio every picks you up, you'll continue doing it. I don't think that makes you an asshole.

H_Factor73 said...

I like football, porno and books about war, but sometimes that just ain't enough to keep a man like me interested. Sometimes I gotta go out and have fun at someone else's expense.

The world needs assholes, otherwise the rest of the world would turn into a bunch of pussies who were only concerned about feelings and making sure everybody was always happy.

Assholes are the ones who make the hard choice to tell it like it is and we need more of them.

IQCrash said...

Matt, you're too kind.

Christina, I agree - although, I'm all about becoming a sellout whore - so making videos for YouTube isn't very high on my list. I'd rather write The Hot Chick 7 and wear money hats.

H Factor, we should hang out and laugh at retards together.

Anonymous said...

my mantra so eloquently put... I too don't listen to the "it will take 10 scripts to make it" rhetoric, why? because I am better than them heh... heh heh heh heh

Bill said...

Speaking of assholes, I read this in one of those books about Zen. I think it was the epilogue or one of those complicated places. It said, one way or another, everyone's an asshole to someone, especially the people trying so hard not to be an asshole to anyone. Those are the people everyone thinks are assholes.

There was a lot more, but I forget.

Emily Blake said...

I agree for the most part. I don't think you should go into your first screenplay expecting it to suck, but I also believe you need to be realistic.

Once you've written your first screenplay you need to set it aside for a long time before you try to sell it because after you've written the first one most people think it's genius when it's not. If they go away and write a second one and come back and still think it's genius, rock out.

Christina Shaver said...


Before you dismiss YouTube, you may want to read this post. Just stumbled on it.