Thursday, July 20, 2006

"Nobody is Owed Work"

Tom Brevoort, Executive Editor for Marvel Comics, wrote a very sobering blog, which (if it had a title) would’ve been called “Nobody is Owed Work.”

“Just like movies, just like television, comics tend to be a young man's game. You can be cruising along, doing your thing and thinking everything's fine, and then suddenly, tastes change and you find yourself by the side of the road. And given history, it's likely to happen. It's very rare that any creator stays on the top of the heap for very many years. The ones that do have this type of cache tend to be the ones who leave the industry at the height of their career, and then pop back in every now and again in the years thereafter. Folks like Frank Miller and Alan Moore.”

Be sure to read the lively comments that followed.


Now that you’re totally depressed after reading Brevoort’s blog, how about some personal thoughts on how to win the game?

We have to become masters of the craft, and that makes us students for life. ‘Til death do we stop studying and staying current. Because quality is essential to staying alive. That means that we have to know more than our competitors. We have put in the time to push our talents to new heights so we will be more skilled at the craft than our competitors. As Hugh Macleod so beautifully pointed out on his
blog, “power is taken, not given.” We have to be able to walk into a room and work it and say to them, “Hi, I’m the best frickin’ screenwriter on the planet,” and somehow, they can tell you’re not lying.

I have long felt that there has been a terrible disconnect between amateur screenwriters and film scholars. Amateur screenwriters, like lost sheep, stay huddled together in their own little cliques with other amateur screenwriters and they only read screenwriting magazines and screenwriting books and they only care about the opinions of other screenwriters, preferably the ones who’ve had movies made.

And I certainly don’t mean to discredit the writers of screenwriting books and magazines, etc. They have a lot of great things to say, especially Robert McKee. But there’s also a whole world out there filled with film lovers and film scholars who likewise have many, many great things to teach us. We have to open our eyes and pay attention to the scholars as well if we truly aspire to write a great movie. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read an article by some geeky film scholar that turned out to be so insightful about characters and the visual language of film that I honestly walked away feeling totally edified by it.


Consider Jim Emerson’s
Opening Shots Project.

Consider everything
Girish has written.

Consider the articles of Robert Cumbow at
24 Lies a Second.

Consider the countless free insights over at
Images, Offscreen, the Bright Lights Film Journal, and GreenCine Daily.

Consider all the websites listed on the right, which barely even scratch the surface.

But please don’t forget me.


P.S. How does anyone find time for television when our dreams are constantly at risk?

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