6.01.2014

Manager & Me: A Love Story

It begins like any other Hollywood romance. You, perched on a bar stool, dangling a brand new, high concept feature spec like a femme fatale with a cigarette between her lips, awaiting the flame of a passing Zippo and a memorable quip. You know very well how to play it coolJessica Rabbit, Lauren Bacall, Olivia Newton-John "Bad Sandy" cool. You could write cool in your sleep, and often do just for kicks.





Unfortunately, this describes pretty much every unagented screenwriter in every Starbucks up and down Ventura Boulevard, desperately available, quietly dying inside, hellbent on forging that elusive bond certain to change everything forever on the sheer force of your God-given gift for wordplay.

You were with your former manager for nearly ten years, a virtual lifetime in Hollywood terms, before the light went out in your eyes. Oh sure, you flew solo for a time, content to ignore your own calls, offer up your own indecipherable script notes and buy your own Pan Asian noodle bar lunches.

You might have accepted a casual reference or two from a writer friendwho'd mysteriously declined representation from some prize catch or another herself. Seriously, if some bozo with a resume can't find the time to read you during a twenty-one hour flight to Club Med Phuket, what possible hope could the two of you have for a future?







Then one day you look up and there she is. Of all the gin joints in all the world. Okay, so there's no gin, because gin is about as passe as gluten and Range Rovers. Also, it isn't a joint, but rather her fancy Beverly Hills offices with the exposed pipes and the polished concrete. An exceedingly polite male assistant bears a passing resemblance to Steve Urkel, grown up now with a light English accent and a Wharton MBA.








You honestly couldn't say what she's wearing when your eyes first lock, beyond an air of confidence and a shimmering coat of that long-wearing lipstick that looks great on her and Halle Berry in the magazine but ridiculous on you. "I didn't want to read you and I didn't want to like you," she says. "But I did and I do."

The Zippo, the quip, the spark, the flameyou, my friend, are a goner. Everything feels new and alive and all things are possible. Not so fast, agent lady, you will suddenly think, dialing it back a notch.





No stranger to relationship mechanics, having failed at so many over the years yourself (see here, here and here), you know very well a girl can't just give it away. Certainly not in Hollywood, where honesty is the hallmark of a rank amateur, does one start throwing the truth around in the company of a virtual stranger with blindingly white teeth.

A formidable opponent indeed, she's lined her walls with books, real ones with hard covers filled with actual paper and words printed on them in ink. You remark on one whose title you like and she writes it downwith a real live pen on an honest to God notepadin the event you want to attach to the screen rights. "Are you real?" you want to cry out.


Instead you slip in a little indie project that would have made your ex's head explode, given the amount of sweat equity required of her. "On it," she says, jotting that down, too, in the prettiest cursive you've ever seen. It turns out bypassing the studio system is how she broke in not one but two recent Oscar-winning clients she is far too humble to describe as such, despite all that being Hollywood legend. 

She seals the deal with an anecdote about once stopping a pitch meeting with Oliver Stone upon the discovery of something sparkly on a client's ring finger. "I'm not the type to sit there and ignore a rock that size while talking deal points," she says.











"I'm yours!" you blurt out. "All yours! Forever!"  So much for Jessica Rabbit. Under her firm but gentle guidance, you've already become Betty Boop, the world's oldest fresh young thing, who just wants to be loved already. 

The plan is to start at awards season and work backwards to the part where the light might very well some day die in your eyes. Like love itself, Hollywood is anything but linear; we go round and round in circles here until the dizziness drives us mad. Another thing they won't tell you in film school is, yes, your story must have a beginning, middle and end, but it doesn't necessarily have to happen in that order. 

Boop boop be do.

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