Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Being "In" the Business

Being around the film people in L.A. can lead to interesting conversations about filmmakers, writers, and even stars. The last couple of weeks I have heard more rumors about who is sleeping with who, who is cheating on who, who slept with who for a part, who smokes weed on set etc. The pot culture is EXTREMELY prevalent in Hollywood and not just with the lower classes of jobs. Funnily enough some of the most respected actors and directors in Hollywood are consistently stoned. How they are able to work so well is beyond me.

Oddly enough I've learned that filmmakers often have a very good idea that they are making a horrible picture while they are STILL filming. Why a screenwriter isn't brought in for a polish or production isn't stopped is probably the first question that pops into your head. Apparently studios would rather just continue production and hope that marketing and a few editing jobs can fix major problems than spend the money to actually make any meaningful changes. This sort of logic makes me want to punch people, however, since I'm a film student and they are million dollar suits, I'll go ahead and not do that.

As with any business you have to be careful who you associate with. One very talented screenwriter has written two great scripts that have been totally trashed by bad directing and bad talent (Tomb Raider 2 and Paycheck). I'll wrap up my post with the story behind Exorcist: The Beginning as one final illustration of the business I'm dealing with.

Exorcist: The Beginning was originally shot and directed by noted director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, American Gigolo, Auto Focus). The studio, Morgan Creek, upon seeing a nearly finished version decided it was too "smart" and didn't have enough "scares." So they hired noted director Steven Spielberg to re-shoot it. JUST KIDDING. They hired hackjob director Renny Harlin, known for.... Driven? Maybe Deep Blue Sea. And he released a horrible, horrible movie that made little sense and was missing a key element to cinematic success- a script.

So what does Morgan Creek do? They go for the money and say that they are going to release Paul Schrader's "original" version on DVD (as if it was their idea that his version be the "original" version).

Anyway I'm never watching Harlin's piece of crap version again and am patiently waiting for Schrader's vision. Hopefully I'll find a way to appease both the suit and the artist in me.


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