June 23, 2009

Sounding Reasonable

Within the first month of my freshman year in college, I met a girl at a party. Not a particularly unique occurrence, excepting the fact that I'd spent the previous 7 years at an all boys private school. So Princeton was, at first, a very pleasant bit of culture shock. (Boy, did THAT wear off fast! But that's a topic for another post).

Anyway, I met this girl. She was cute. We danced a bit. And then we settled into a quieter area in the eating club to actually chat. And, initially, I was really impressed because, not only was she beautiful, but she seemed to be so thoughtful and contemplative with every thing she said.

Sadly, it wasn't too long before I realized that she wasn't really as thoughtful or considered as I'd first assumed. It's just that she talked...... really...... slow.

And the moral of this story is that, many times, presentation can trump content. At least, at first.

Which brings me to Dick Cheney.

I know he's sort of gotten off the radar lately, but I think this bears pointing out before the next time he decides to make a media appearance.

I remember during the 2004 Vice-Presidental Debate, Cheney said that, even though he was the President of the Senate and was a regular in the Senate chamber, that night was the first time he'd ever met John Edwards in person. The implication being that Edwards was a sandbagger who was too busy running for president instead of doing his job for the people of North Carolina.

Now, Edwards sandbagging-ness may be more true than not, but that, too, is another blog post.

The point is that Cheney's actual statement was just a flat out lie. Not only was Cheney rarely on Capitol Hill, but, he'd met Edwards at least three years before at the Annual National Prayer Breakfast. See?

And let's not even get into his grotesquely incorrect statements about WMDs or Iraq's non-relationship with Al Qaeda. So I wondered, why were people still listening to this guy? Why does he have any sort of credibility at all?

Again, it's all about presentation. Cheney looks and sounds like a guy who should know what he's talking about. He speaks in the hushed and measured tones of a serious man talking seriously about very serious issues.

Funny. When he was Buch 41's Sec Def, I always thought Cheney reminded me of Lt. Gerard in "The Fugitive".

But just because you sound reasonable doesn't mean that you're actually telling the truth. But I think Dave Chappelle said it best back on his show: if anybody else had said half the crazy shit that George W. Bush had said in his first term (especially, to Chappelle's point, a Black man), people would think he was a crazy man.

Chappelle's Show
Black Bush
Buy Chappelle's Show DVDsBlack ComedyTrue Hollywood Story

In short, don't just hear the sounds. Listen to the words.

The Movie Lotto

Here's a lit manager's assessment of the spec screenplay sales market over the last six months. Please keep in mind, these are just the numbers for the scripts that got sent out by the various major agencies & management companies in town. It doesn't account for how many actual writing clients each of these companies rep that they AREN'T sending out, let alone the scores of writers represented by smaller companies, and the multitude of unrepresented screenwriters. And that's just here in L.A.

In short, the odds are VERY long for selling a completely original screenplay to a studio.

This is why I've become a big advocate of independent film. Don't wait for Warner Bros. or Sony to give you permission. There's more money out there than studio money. We all just need to retrain ourselves to sniff it out.

Write it. Shoot it. Screen it.