Why He Will Not Read Your Fucking Script

ABANDON FAITH

In the past 24 hours it seems that Josh Olson has become the Joe Wilson of the screenwriting world, with everybody buzzing about him thanks to this piece.  (Joe Wilson in the ‘stirring up the blogosphere’ sense, not in the ‘I’m a proud son of ignorance’ sense)

I will not read your fucking script.

If that seems unfair, I’ll make you a deal. In return for you not asking me to read your fucking script, I will not ask you to wash my fucking car, or take my fucking picture, or represent me in fucking court, or take out my fucking gall bladder, or whatever the fuck it is that you do for a living.

That’s simple enough, isn’t it? “I will not read your fucking script.” What’s not clear about that? There’s nothing personal about it, nothing loaded, nothing complicated. I simply have no interest in reading your fucking screenplay. None whatsoever.

The emotional side of me is a bit offended, though the intellectual part of me can understand his sentiment. While I won’t get into what I think of this as it relates to propriety (certainly there are thousands of other blogs doing that at this moment) I do think this is a good springboard into the issue of the young writer’s market. As mentioned before, I think that the writing world is one that is infested with sharks, hustlers, and other vermin who use the various confusing pathways to success as a means to make money by selling false promises. Though most of the time it’s just outright lies.

There are numerous mentors out there, on campuses, in schools, doing workshops and writing blogs with tons of helpful information that lends a helping hand to young writers. That being said, I feel as if the professional writer’s organizations do very little to rid the wells of poison as it relates to the kind of scum who seek to feed off aspiring writers. And it’s partly because of this that professionals such as Josh Olson find themselves up to their necks in bad screenplays.

Anybody heard of Poetry.com? They were, and probably still are, a pseudo-community writing board that invited young writers to post their poetry and prose to be peer reviewed for feedback. However, once you had filled out your registration and posted your work you would receive a letter about a month later informing you that your work had been selected as one of the finest examples of writing they’d seen. The letter told you that your piece had not only won over the staff, but had received the attention of SHELL COMPANY & ASSOCIATES who had selected your work as “Poem of the Year” and that they would be honoring you, along with other budding writers, at some fake gala event to be held in Las Vegas. They cautioned that you needed to have your work copyrighted immediately (send us $50 bucks and we’ll do that) and that if you were unable to attend the event you could pick up a copy of their annual leatherbound journal that would be featuring your poem for the low cost of $150 plus S&H.

For those whose spidey senses didn’t catch that something was off,  this was a better scam than a Nigerian 419. There were plenty of people across the country and around the world who fell for Poetry.com’s ruse, some raising money to travel to Las Vegas through church donations and bake sales, and some small towns going so far as printing proud articles in their local newspapers about their new local celebrities.

Though most people didn’t fall for this, the effect it had was clear. There were now thousands upon thousands of writers who suddenly felt validated as having natural talent, but now felt as though whatever small steps they had taken in learning their craft were now hurdles they had cleared to become full-blown hotshots. They had made it and could go off and conquer new worlds with all their amazing abilities, and any expert who told them otherwise could talk to their award.  (Sadly, if you do an image search for “poetry.com”, there are still plenty who are proudly displaying the work that earned them such accolades)

The Poetry.com tale is typical of writing scams, although there are variations. Some will urge you to use their administrative services, while others will offer access for a price. It’s a little disheartening to see this kind of behavior because I feel that it rots one of the most core elements of art which is community.

Unlike most professions, “creative types” rely upon personal contact for exposure. Musicians do this, as do painters, writers, graphic designers, etc. It’s the way that most artists improve, and I’ve always thought of it as mutually-assured reliance between those of us who have been following “the dream” and understand the joys and heartbreak therein. When charlatans use that sense of community as a weakness to prey on the stupid, even if those people don’t have talent, it weakens that community. It freezes it. People lose trust and ideas have no liquidity between artists. This also has the unpleasant affect of rendering the community filter useless. Instead of peer-review as a means to weed out those with zero talent it acts to push the very worst straight past peer-review and into the hands of weary publishers and prodco’s who become increasingly alienated from the community as a result. It emboldens the worst with the kind of courage to walk up to an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and ask for his opinion on a script with no sense of fear or shame.

I think it’s at this point right now that the community as a whole needs to rise as one and send these pricks running back into the abyss. These people need to be called out, their organizations exposed, and directories updated feverishly to track what these people are up to. There are more novels, short stories, collections of poetry, plays, screenplays, and even graphic novels being copyrighted than at any other time. This isn’t a fucking testament to the information age. This is a system being overloaded by the garbage that crooks keep feeding into it to make money. It’s bullshit and it needs to stop.

+++

A few posts and discussions on the above article can be found at blogs I frequent: Scott Myers Go Into The Story blog here, Amanda The Aspiring Screenwriter’s blog here, The Hollywood Roaster (more lol than omg) here, and Just Effing Entertain Me Blog here.

For the record, Google is currently tracking this article in 49 blog posts…wait, make that 50 now.

To end this week, let’s all get down to the Nigerian sounds of Uzodinma Okpechi’s 419 scam anthem, “I Go Chop Yo Dollar”. After all, you are the mugu, he is the master.

Stop lurking and comment. I can see you!

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2 thoughts on “Why He Will Not Read Your Fucking Script

  1. Comparing screenwriting to poetry.com is about the most depressing and accurate thing I think I’ve heard this week. Well done. Even at the age of 12 when I first submitted to poetry to that site, I knew better. I’m thinking maybe I’ve gotten dumber in the intervening years…

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