I had an argument the other day on a Swedish movie maker forum (filmcafe.se). One that turned out rather nasty.
It started with a simple discussion about the paid member ship offered. I had been a paying member but quit since I didn’t experienced I got anything for my money. The site wasn’t simply targeted for screenwriters. I said so and listed what I missed. With a friendly and constructive attitude intended.
Then this guy, let’s call him T, popped up and linked to three articles he had written for the site that he thought would be within my interest – a little like “you said there were no articles for you, but look, they exist”.
One was about how to write a movie script, one about marketing your movie and one about negotiation concerning compensation.
I said that I had read his article about writing and it was good, but it was two years old and if I pay for a service I want something more than one interesting article every other year.
Then I added that I thought that marketing of a movie was a different thing than marketing a script. The customers and the material are completely different.
And this was the beginning of the volcano’s eruption.
I got an answer about the need to adjust the scripts to the market, writing in genres that sell – bla, bla, bla. Things I didn’t agree much about. I prefer to write about things which affect me – he didn’t, since it then, in his opinion (which is in his world is the almighty truth is seems), turned into “art house” instead of something marketable. This was ping-ponged back and forth between us. All the time he had a very lecturing attitude towards me. I respected his opinion, but I told him I disagreed. I never said “you are wrong”, I said “I disagree with you”. He said bluntly “you are wrong”. That is not a respectful conversation in my opinion.
Then he got stuck on the fact that I wrote that I don’t read much books about screenwriting these days, since they often aim at a novice writer (he had recommended me to read two fundamental books – with the attitude that I was a novice). He returned to the same books over and over indeed. I said I also re-read some favorites from time to time, but that they only repeated what I already was supposed to know, not pushing my writing forwards. I wanted to read something which added new things.
I claimed I had professional experience of screenwriting. He claimed that I wasn’t entitled to call myself a screenwriter since I had not sold at least one feature script. He hadn’t found my name on Imdb or the Swedish movie database, so I could not be professional; even less since I didn’t earn my full income on it.
He very rudely wrote that he couldn’t figure out why I was on the site – or any other site for that matter – since I wasn’t interested in learning anything about screenwriting. I was living in a dream, rather than reality, he said, since I thought myself as a pro in what I was doing although I obviously had only sold scripts to minuscule producers.
There are a few interesting things in this conversation.
I sell movie scripts, but in his opinion I should only sell to those who can produce and distribute the movie to a wide audience and get my name in in Imdb? Hasn’t most people begun their career by selling to minor companies? No bigger company gives a writing assignment to someone without credits. Credit from a minor company is still credit. But I should not call myself a pro until I get this big, fat order from Disney? Maybe so, but, Disney will not likely buy my work if I label myself “amateur”.
In the United States you call yourself “award winning” the very moment you can. In Sweden you might do this if you had won a prestigious price someone heard of. I’m award winning, and call myself so. This does not mean I think I’ve won – or even is worthy of – an Oscar.
Another interesting thing in this conversation is that he presumes my lack of interest in everything concerning screenwriting because I said I don’t read many books on the subject these days; adding, on the negative side, my unwillingness to pay to have access to one interesting article on the site. He probably thought I was cocksure, and if so, he was right, because I am. In my opinion you don’t get anywhere by diminish yourself, as Swedes often do. And I don’t think it adds to the positive side to diminish others, like he so gladly did with me.
He came to such fascinating conclusions about me and my writing that I wondered who of us that was living in a dream.
Not only did he say bad things about me. He also patronized my clients, indirectly; clients who also frequent the site, and know me. I wonder what they say about his attitude.
One funny thing about it is the image I got of him. I could not help it, but I saw Byron from 3:10 to Yuma in front of me, when Ben Wade asks him if he ever read any book except the Bible, and Byron replies “No need”.