Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hollywoodizing

Most artists are retarded at business, and use it as an excuse to never buckle up and learn business, thus effing their careers.

One of the more joyless aspects of being in Hollywood is you really do need to learn how to elevator pitch your products, and even harder, yourself. Seeing as most of us can't even look ourselves in the eye in the mirror for more than five seconds (try it), truly examining yourself and identifying your strengths and translating them into marketing hooks is a BITCH.

Ever since I wrote PISTOLERAS, some helpful people around me have been calling me a female Tarantino. There are two problems with that:

1. That comparison was used by every fratboy cinephile wannabe director in the 90s, and no suit is going to light up about another jackoff who can't hold a candle to maestro Tarantino and is going to lose them another bucketload of moolah saying they're just like him.

2. It's not true.


I don't know, there's a lack of squeamishness. We're raunchy and have trucker mouths, and we both use movie references and expand on them instead of just regurgitating them, and I do write dialogue well but...

But Tarantino is a master craftsman. One of the best writer/directors ever. He's meticulous, he's postmodern, and he's highly stylized a la Mamet. He may come off like a jazz improvist, but he's a Mozart. That's not me.

So I kind of chewed the phrase around on my cud and now I'm spitting it back out. False data. Next try...

Strangely enough, for the second time now I've heard I'm like Larry Cohen.

Now, mind you, this phrase will probably not generate very much excitement in an office either because this would be presuming Hollywood types actually watch movies and know their artists. Honestly, a frightening amount don't; are MBA types and prom queens here for their lottery ticket.

But to have heard writer/producer/director Larry Cohen, from two people I respect, who totally know their shit...Well, obviously I had to go rewatch some Cohen with my study cap on.

I started with MANIAC COP and thought huh. This is really freaking great. Intense. Outdoes TERMINATOR in some scenes, which is, come on now, wow. But I'm not sure what it has to do with me.

Then I watched Q: THE WINGED SERPENT. And it was fantastic. Super-fantastic. And a lightbulb inside warmed up to the heat-level of an easy-bake oven...

This guy is subversive. Witty. He's got real-world truths to say and he's throwing them into a fun B monster movie. There are amazing, truthful beats. The world is complicated and corrupt. There's method acting. Every character is flushed out and taking up the screen. Hmmmm...

Now tonight, I'm in the middle of watching HELL UP IN HARLEM. Oprah lightbulb. I get it. Man, it's RAW. Gritty and violent. EMOTION always wins out over technique (which I'm totally down with -- always.). Outrage. Underdogs. Unblinking, unpulled punches. Tough to take societal commentary. Character with a capital C. Again, all wrapped in an "eploitation" film (whatever the fuck THAT means...as if the voyeuristic gaze wasn't always exploitive, and some producers don't care if their movie makes money...).

What an honor. Nice to be thought of this way. (Yes. It's nice to be compared to the exploitation "King of Schlock". Man, people just don't know what they're talking about when they talk about movies. Freaking blowhards... On the one hand saying he's created the greatest monster movie of all time, on the other hand judging the genre as subpar. Fuck you. A movie is a movie is a movie; we need ALL the genres, done to the nines. Just 'cause you lob Oscars at dramas doesn't make the genre better or harder to do than any other.)

Don't know if it'll help my Hollywood elevator speech...but I'd like to meet the man. I'm only two degrees separated from Mr. Cohen, and it would feel great to shake his hand sometime.



Here's a journalist who "gets" Larry Cohen, and in all honesty it sounds like exactly what I'm up to. Atmosphere and satire. Politics and psychology. Love it.

"Larry Cohen is the king of schlock, graduating from TV writer to director of low-budget horror, with a specialty in atmospherics and sly satire. It’s alive. His finger is on the social pulse from artificial insemination to killer babies, and at least four of the latter are not very pleased with their parents here. It lives again. Despite titles like these, he’s no hack, but a sophisticated architect of narrative and psychology. Even in the 70s he approached topics that pin-pointed American obsessions with divine injunction as an excuse for massacre. God Told Me To says it all, as an outbreak of murders in New York by police, crowd-killers and family men is explained by the piety of that deadly phrase."
- Noel Purdon, The Adelaide Review

4 comments:

Marty Nozz said...

So "Hollywoodizing" means being unable to use adjectives when describing something? Makes sense to me. We've seen this for years.

Somewhere down the line society has gone the route of contextualizing and categorizing over actually describing things. It's not just movies, it's pretty much any artistic medium. I remember a few years back when it seemed like every movie was "like the Matrix" even when upon actually viewing it the comparison was so thin it needed to see a doctor about it's eating disorder. We get it in comics too. "That guy draws like Jim Lee." "That comic is like Watchmen." A lot of times it seems like we're busting our asses to not be compared to anything but get to the point in our struggle for expression that people are compared to us.

The person who did the commentary on Cohen did not compare him to anything. They described him. You described him. BEHOLD THE EVOLUTION AS PEOPLE DESCRIBE THINGS WITH WORDS! God, that makes me sound old. "Damn kids nowadays with their lack of adjectives."

Here's the sucky part: WE HAVE TO DO IT! We have to compare instead of describe. If you're in that elevator talking to a producer or I'm working a table at a convention trying to add one more person to the dozen or so people that actually give a frog's fat ass about anything I do we don't have the luxury of adjectives. We can't monologue brilliantly about our work. We have to pick something to compare ourselves/our work to and 1: hope it's a good comparison 2: hope the person we're talking to has heard of what we're comparing it to and 3: hope they like what we're comparing it to. Hard to do on an elevator.

Kid Sis said...

Toooootally. Didn't realize i was coining a word, but, yeah.

Who do you compare your work to?

Marty Nozz said...

Nobody.

Let the fuckers compare themselves to me. I know hat I do may not be the most original thing out there, but it's not that way from me trying to imitate people. I walk my path, for better or for worse, and if it's similar to someone else I'm oblivious to it.

And when people go to compare my work to other stuff, I just nod and say 'thank you' and then go on about my business to telling stories.

Hugo Fuchs said...

That was succinct Marty.

As for me, I'd say my style was John Ford-like. I grew up with a father who loved John Wayne pictures, and Mister Roberts is a favorite, so it shouldn't really be unexpected.