"I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script"

Posted by Prince Gomolvilas
ON Thursday, September 10, 2009
First of all, I am not an asshole.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way....

The best essay I've read all year? Josh Olson's painfully straightforward and honest "I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script" on The Village Voice blog.

As much as I'd like to disassociate myself from him and his fierce sentiments (after all, remember, I am not an asshole), I have to admit that I understand where he's coming, I feel his pain, and I have been put in similar situations.

I would elaborate more to soften the blow of his harsh words and perhaps paint him in a better light (and, by extension, paint me in a better light because, after all, I am not an asshole), but you should just read Josh Olson's piece and leave it at that.

Read "I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script."

(Olson mentions that he's tasked with reading the scripts of his good friends and the ones his agents send him, leaving him with two big piles and valid reasons for why he "will not read your fucking script." I also have two piles—one of scripts written by close friends and one of scripts written by my writing students. I love my close friends. I love my writing students. And I have just revealed two perfectly acceptable ways to get me to read your script without the kind of awkwardness described by Olson: become one of my good friends or become one of my writing students. See? I am open! Further evidence that I'm not an asshole! [Both friendship and student status may be obtained by application.])

(One of the things that most intrigues me about the piece is people's reaction to it. Check out the comments section of that post to see how divisive Olson is and how much who you are informs your reaction—and there are even more comments on Deadline Hollywood.)
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12 Comments

  1. jeff Said,

    Yeah, it's easier to know you and write a novel, because I know there's no way in hell you'd read it ever.

     

  2. Megan Said,

    I don't know you, I just read your blog. But a friend of mine is an audio director for video games, and everybody and their momma asks him to book them for voice acting. These people don't have reels. They aren't professionals. They just figure they had a beer in the same room with him one time, and that entitles them to be HANDED a job. It isn't being an asshole, it is protecting yourself from the bajillion and one people who think they are owed something by the world.

     

  3. Stephanie Said,

    That article made me want to cry... because it so perfectly captured the bizarre sense of entitlement people have about writing in general... that it's just something anyone can do.

    I've been wanting to write a post about this phenomenon (the 'everyone has a great idea for a book but no one actually reads' effect) since the last holiday season when a woman at a cocktail party cornered me and picked my brain about the publishing industry for two hours, and then proceeded to say, summing up her experience as a writer, that she hasn't written her self-help book yet, but she can totally see herself on Oprah.

     

  4. Uhm. Yeah.

    No offense, but ditto with jeff.

    And I can't believe the balls people have asking others to read their work.

    What I love best about blogging is that it's a take it or leave it world.

    Nobody holds a gun to someone's head to read a blog post. It's there. You don't have to look at it.

    Lurk at your own speed, or don't.

    But, I do have a friend who writes and writes and writes. She gives gifts to my kids and all she askes in return is that I read her work.

    Each novel is at least - AT LEAST 600 pgs. long. And, they all seem to be about someone just like her, who is unbearably forgetable and depressing...bla, bla, bla...It's so painful reading even the first few pages that I almost always have to put it down.

    Then it is as if I've stabbed her in the heart.

    It's a dilemma.

    I barely read what my husband writes and he writes great stuff every single day.

    It would be foolish to take that personally.

    I just have a busy life. Since when is that a crime?

     

  5. If it's good it will get read.

    End of story.

     


  6. My named is David Garrett. I am screenwriter. Unlike Josh Olson, I have not won an Academy Award®. I have not even been nominated. I have been nominated for several Razzie Awards®. I didn’t win, but Roger Ebert did put a film I co-wrote (“Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo”) on his list of the most hated films of all time. A top director hired me to write a project for his company and had only one note: “There’s not one useable line in this script after ‘Fade In’”. One critic said there’s something he’d love to see me write—my own obituary.

    Yes, it’s been a roller coaster ride for me in Hollywood. But always know this: I will read your fucking script. I will read that shit. I will read the fuck out of it. I will read the front, the back, and with apologies to Quentin Tarantino, the whole mutha-fuckin’ thang.

    Why am I going to read your fucking script? Because somebody read my fucking script and sent it to someone they knew at the fucking production company who sent it to someone they knew at the fucking studio and they bought the fucking thing. If somebody hadn’t read my fucking script, I’d still be sitting in that fucking trailer park instead of making a fucking living as a fucking writer.

    It was 1994. I had just moved to town. I working as an extra on a bad National Lampoon movie called “Last Resort”. I’m not even sure I was getting paid, but I just wanted to be on a movie set so bad, I didn’t give a shit. It was an all night shoot, and I was sitting next to an extremely tall dude named David Baxter. Because he was so tall, and I was short, the A.D. thought it would be a funny visual gag to sit us next to each other in the scene. Genius. Baxter and I struck up a conversation. Turns out Baxter was the director’s assistant. They couldn’t afford to pay any more extras, so he was filling in. Baxter asked me what I did in real life. I said, “I’m a writer”. He asked, “Have you written anything?” I said I had just finished a script with my friend Brian Sawyer called “Rubenesque” about a fat English lady who travels back in time to the year 1600 and becomes a supermodel. He said, “Sounds great. Can I read it?” Turns out Baxter was also interning at a production company that was looking for period comedies set in Europe. No joke. Baxter read the script that night and took it to his company the next day. They bought the script. It never got made, but I got paid and kept writing. Thanks for reading my fucking script!

    I spent that “Rubenesque” money real fast on a stripper girlfriend’s boob job and had to go back to work. This time as an attorney. Let me tell you this: I was a terrible fucking attorney. If you wanted to go jail real fast, all you had to do was hire me. If they gave Razzies® for being an incompetent public defender, I would have received multiple nominations. For the sake of my clients, I knew that I had to get somebody to read my next fucking script.

     

  7. Then one day I was in an elevator in LA and saw a familiar face. It was the face of Dave Thomas. Not the guy from Wendy’s, but the guy from SCTV and “Strange Brew”. He was a childhood hero of mine. I was nervous, but I mustered up the courage to say that I was a big fan, and that I was a writer, too.

    He was gracious, gave me his card and said that if I had any ideas for game shows to send them over because ABC was looking for something. After lunch I sat down and came up with a 3-page treatment for a stupid game show called ‘Family Challenge’ and faxed it to him. He called a couple of hours later, saying that he loved the treatment and would send it to ABC. The next day ABC bought the show and greenlit a pilot. I quit my law job, and we went on to produce 100 episodes of the game show at another network. The show was so awful that the host Ray Combs killed himself rather than come back for a second season, but that got me into the WGA and got me an agent. I’m sorry that a man had to die, but on the other hand: thanks for reading my fucking script.

    I rarely ask people to read my fucking scripts because I know what a pain in the ass it is. But when I have asked them, some people have said ‘yes’. This resulted in my getting jobs and making many good friends along the way. Of course, not everyone liked my fucking scripts or even offered to read them. In fact, most people who offered to read my fucking scripts didn’t even read them at all. I never faulted them for that. I just tried to appreciate that they were busy and would get to it eventually—even if that meant never.

    Eventually I got a job as head writer on an animated kids’ show for Fox called “Da Mob” conceived by an eccentric Swedish artist named Magnus. They needed 26 half-hour scripts in 3 months. That’s a lot, especially when you’re doing everything through a translator. A friend called me and said, “I met this kid named Gustin who’s new in town and he’s a writer, and long story short, can you read his fucking script?” My first inclination was to say “I’m up to balls in pickled herring and Hungarian animators, so there’s no way I will read his fucking script,” but then I remembered that the only reason I had a fucking job was that somebody read my fucking script somewhere along the way.

    So I read his fucking script. And it was fucking good, so I had him write a bunch of the episodes for the animated show. He did a fantastic job and got his first credit. I was pleased to see that several years later Gustin Nash had written several great movies like “Charlie Bartlett” and “Youth in Revolt”. Wow, Gustin, I’m glad I read your fucking script. Your writing inspired me then and continues to inspire me. I hope that having someone read your fucking script along the way inspired you to keep at it.

    I know what you’re thinking: “Dude, we saw Corky Romano and kinda wish someone hadn’t read your fucking script.” Well, let me tell you this much: it’s a lot harder to write a fucking script than it is to watch a fucking movie. If you don’t believe me, give it a shot, and I’ll read your fucking script and let you know my thoughts. But realize that if you ask me to read your fucking script, you’ll be getting the opinion of the co-writer of the most hated movie of all time. But I guess I’ll have to do, because we all know that Josh Olson is not going to read your fucking script. I can be found at davidgarrett.me.

     

  8. Hi, David, thanks for stopping by.

    First of all, I have to vehemently disagree with Roger Ebert. I don't hate "Deuce Bigalow." It's the sequel that really really really sucks...oh...wait a minute...never mind. (Just kidding! :) )

    David, I wonder if Josh's macho posturing actually made some people misinterpret some of his essay.

    In your comments, you give two specific examples of people graciously agreeing to read your work.

    "Baxter was also interning at a production company"--which means he had a stake in reading your script; that was his job as an intern; and they were specifically looking for the type of screenplay you had written. And he asked you if he could read it.

    Dave Thomas "said that if I had any ideas for game shows to send them over because ABC was looking for something"--Thomas specifically solicited work from you.

    What Josh is referring to is people who approach him with an unfair underlying expectation that he will read their work because of their (usually) peripheral relationship to him.

    It's kind of like those stories about people who have won the lottery all of a sudden getting distant cousins showing up on their doorstep.

    It's not that he's unwilling to help people--he mentions that he has a pile of scripts from his good friends that he has to read. It's a matter of prioritizing out the people who put him in a tight, awkward social situation.

     

  9. Will Said,

    I think the whole essay would evaporate if Josh had some boundaries to speak of.

    All he has to do is say "No".

    That's it. No.

    If it's an issue of reading good friends' scripts vs. acquaintances' utter crap, I don't see what's so horrible about saying no. They are, after all, acquaintances! He is, after all, busy as shit!

    I find it hard to sympathize with him when the solution to his problem lies wholly within his power, even if some immature, inexperienced, acquaintance screenwriters call him a jerk for it.

    Toughen up, Olsen!

     

  10. David Said,

    Tragically, the DavidGarrett.me address does not work.

    Does anyone have a more up to date version?

    Cheers!

    David

     

  11. Hi, David, I don't believe he has a working website anymore. (At least I can't find it.)

     



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