Story Bullshit

Screenwriter Josh Friedman blogs about the time he was offered the chance by a good friend to write the screenplay for a "go" movie for an International Star.

All I had to do was meet the star, hear
the movie he wanted to make, and nod my head. The job was mine. That
was it. […]

After some small talk, I settled in to hear the movie. What happened
next was forty-five of the most entertaining and annoying minutes I
have ever spent in the film business. International Star stood across
from me and proceeded to act the movie out, giving me examples of
action scenes, stunts, sight gags, etc. He never stopped moving for the
better part of an hour.

And here’s what he kept saying the entire time:

STAR: So…we have a bar scene first. Maybe…a bar fight? Six men
against me…I’ll balance on a chair like this…take out all six…do
my funny International Star thing…maybe drink their drinks…then we
have some story bullshit…After that…I rescue this girl from…the
whorehouse? Maybe bandits…I’ll do my funny International Star
thing…like with this chair here…Then some story bullshit…and I
find this other girl tied up…there’s a chair gag…then some story

Here’s the conversation I have in the car with my friend afterwards.

FRIEND: So…you’re in, right? It’s fucking awesome, right?
ME: You’ve gotta be kidding me.
ME: Story bullshit? STORY BULLSHIT? My part in all this is…story bullshit?
FRIEND: Oh don’t be so senstiive. That’s just International Star. He’s…international.
ME: He refers to my job as bullshit.
FRIEND: Which is exactly why I need you. You’ll make it better than bullshit.
ME: No way. Not doing it.
ME: I don’t, actually.
FRIEND: I already told him you would.
ME: What!
FRIEND: I told him you’d do it. I told him you were perfect. He’ll take it as a personal affront.
ME: I don’t care.
FRIEND: I stuck my neck out for you. You can’t fuck me like this.
ME: I’m afraid I am fucking you like this.

And so I did.

Two weeks later I got this phone call from my friend:

FRIEND: So. I just wanted to give you an update on the International Star thing.
ME: Look, I’m sorry if I made you look bad–
FRIEND: Don’t worry. I fixed it. We hired someone else.
ME: Good. That’s great. How did you–?
I told him that I had second thoughts about you. That after thinking
about it I decided you weren’t a good enough writer for the project.
ME: Wow. You’re fucking good.
FRIEND: Aren’t I?

His latest blog post, in late March, refers to his then-upcoming surgery for cancer.  It got him pondering some other "story bullshit" — what his eulogy might be:

I’ve spent the last twenty-five years composing my own eulogy. I’ve
never written it down, never even started it. But I’ve written it a
thousand times in my head. Ever since I was young I’ve been obsessed
with all aspects of my funeral. Who would speak, Who would be
there…What they would say…Where it would be held, what kind of
music would I choose…What kind of food would be served at the
afterparty…I’m an incredibly arrogant sonuvabitch, and it probably
won’t surprise you to know my funeral’s a pretty tough ticket it’s so
fucking crowded with mourners.

I’ve brought myself to tears
dozens of times with this masturbatory/fetishistic reimagining of my
final words washing out over the assembled masses. Sometimes funny,
chiding yet touching, my eulogy at all times insightful and peaceful
and reassuring to the thousands who have gathered to mark the passing
of one of the great unheard voices of a generation.


My ultimate words.

At the end of the day, why do we write? We write to remember, we write
to be remembered, we write to discover who we are, or determine it for
others. Our words will always outlive us, immortalizing us if not
always powerful enough to make us immortal. Although if we choose our
words well, there will always be a way back to life, a way to and fro
through time. Someone will always feel us like it was yesterday,
someone will smell our skin again, if we choose our words well.

If we choose our words well there need not always be a last. If we choose our words well there will always be a way to find us.

I have chosen my words. They are:

There are motherfucking snakes on the motherfucking plane.

I don’t know Josh, but I hope his surgery went well and I wish him the very best.

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