Monday, June 1, 2009

A Field Guide to Writers

Many actors in Hollywood have remarkable stories on how they got discovered. Lana Turner was buying a Coke at a cafe on Sunset Blvd. Charlize Theron was busy yelling at a bank teller. Because a writer's beauty is internal (or so we think), we never get discovered on the street. I've bought countless beverages on Sunset and yelled at my bank a bunch of times. Regardless of how elegant my diction is during these moments, I've never had a someone say to me "Do you have an agent?"

But this got me to thinking, maybe agents don't really know how to discover a writer. They wait for scripts to cross their transom (after receiving a signed Submission Release Form) rather than look for writers in their natural habitat.

The following is a tip sheet to help agents discover writers by looking for certain visual cues. It's like bird watching only slightly less interesting...

The PC -- These are the pigeons of writers. These PC laptop-carrying throngs are all over Hollywood, they will do anything for a scrap of food and a small subset offer the beauty and elegance of a dove. Their natural habitat is a Starbucks, a public library or the cafe at Border's. They are a vital part of the literary food chain as they write commercially-viable projects -- many of which are remakes.

The Mac -- These writers tote around MacBooks covered with bumper stickers indicating an allegiance to a band that's years past relevance (e.g., Sonic Youth) or a failed political campaign (e.g., Kerry/Edwards '04). The part of their laptop that remain unmolested is the Mac logo. For just like Iron Man's chest plate, the illumination of the Apple generates their power of self-satisfaction. These people can be found in the back corners of coffee shops like The Bourgeois Pig (5931 Franklin) or Stir Crazy (6903 Melrose). They are currently working on an indie flick that's a cross between Juno and High Fidelity.

The Team -- This group believes in strength through numbers, so they write as a team. They ward off predators by talking loudly and use a language harder to understand that that of the Comanche Code Talkers. They have a weakness for inside jokes and typically write in short bursts. When the balance is correct, they can create a mix Brian Wilson would be proud of. When the balance is off, they create Catwoman (7 writers).

The Notepad -- This is the Short-tailed Albatross of writers -- once highly valued, now nearly extinct. This group writes exclusively in Composition Pads using pens stolen from their last temp gig. They don't often venture outside to write, but if they do, they go places where they will be left alone (e.g., donut shops, public transit) only hoping they'll be bothered by that cute girl who just walked by. These people have the unique combination of self-absorption and self-loathing which allows them to say, "My life sucks way more than anyone else's." Further inspection reveals they only have a series of incomplete scripts and will soon only write a blog because it's easier.

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