A Handy Guide To Everything A Screenwriter Should Not Say. Ever.

Yup. Everything not to say. All in one place.

I am well familiar with the work of William Nicholson (as are you) but I know nothing about the man outside of his work. I thought well, maybe the clickbaiters are taking quotes out of context to try and drive some traffic… But there was this:

“’12 Years a Slave’ came out in America and that sucked up all the guilt about black people that was available. They were so exhausted feeling guilty about slavery that I don’t think there was much left over to be nice about our film. So our film didn’t do as well as we’d hoped, which was a bit heartbreaking.

“We showed it to test audiences very extensively and it got astounding responses. These things are measured in percentages and it was in the high 90s every time. So, honestly, we thought we had a winner. And when it didn’t become a winner it was devastating, actually, it was very distressing.

“I really thought it was going to win lots of awards, partly because it’s a good story but also because I thought I’d done a really good job and the director had done a really good job. So it has been very tough for me. Some things work and some things don’t. You just have to soldier on.”

… Ummm. Yeah…

There’s more in the Hitfix article, but be warned- it’s more than a bit heartbreaking. I mean, where to begin…?

Comparing Mandela’s struggle to slavery in America is so… misguided is the word I’m going to use.  There are others. Even going so far as to imply that people would see 12 Years A Slave (or Mandela, for that matter) out of guilt? Or that one filmic struggle cancels out the other because they both involve “black people”. What? I’m amazed he didn’t drag Fruitvale Station into the discussion. But, hey, it didn’t steal his awards thunder, so I guess it further didn’t merit a mention.

Wow. I’d honestly like to break this down further, but it’s making me too sad. This cannot be diversity in 2014, folks. We have got to do better.

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RIP Harold Ramis

I often wonder if there was a comedy void in the 1970s and 1980s. I don’t know much about that time (I have a bit of an excuse- I wasn’t alive for a bunch of it). But I do know that, as a child, comedies seemed like they really got very good sometime in the early 80s. We had a VCR and VHS tapes were rented and bought with all sorts of funny stories to watch. Aside from old Disney cartoons, we didn’t have a frame of “children’s entertainment” in the house, either.

I remember how much I loved Ghostbusters, in particular. I often had tea parties and silly adventures with my Slimer and Stay Puft toys. Ghostbusters was not very scary and a bit sci-fi and it was really funny. It was perfect. For me, anyway

I saw Ghostbusters again really recently- I remember seeing it pop up on a hotel room TV somewhere. I was exhausted- too tired to even find the remote. So I just left it on. I thought I’d fall asleep, anyway. But I watched it all the way through. And I still loved every frame of it.

I had seen it relatively recently on the big screen as well. The awesome program TIFF ran in Toronto all throughout last summer- TOGA! The Reinvention of American Comedy– featured talks with folks like Ivan Reitman and John Landis. TIFF threw out the welcome mat to everyone, to enjoy the simple beauty and silly slapstickery of these films on the big screen. For me, I was having a lousy summer, and holding those precious admissions in my hand kept me looking forward to the next week, the next talk and screening. It made me feel a little more normal, a little more connected, than I had felt in a while.

There was Animal House and Stripes, Caddyshack and Meatballs. And my beloved Ghostbusters, which didn’t really seem to age all that much, or all that badly. I admit, maybe my big kid heart was still hanging on to it too tightly. But Ghostbusters, and all the other movies on that list, still seem tinged with timelessness to me.

And I admit, because I have to say it out loud, that my first thought when I read the headline about the sudden passing of Harold Ramis early yesterday was “That’s the end of Ghostbusters 3”. Harold Ramis, who I loved as Egon and grew to appreciate as a funny and fearlessly sharp writer and director, was just gone. No long goodbye. No Ghostbusters 3. I’m selfish and horrible for even thinking it, I know, especially because I got so much benefit from this very one-sided relationship already.

Harold Ramis made us laugh. He made me laugh, which was never an easy task. And, as selfish as I am, I don’t just miss him. I miss all the movies I wish he’d made…

Sorry, Venkman. I’m terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought.

PS: This was the illustration for last year’s TIFF TOGA! program done by my friend and brilliant artist Deena Pagliarello. Check out her Tumblr for more sketches and concepts from it as well.

 

The Weekend Reader – January 31ish

There was SO MUCH GOING ON this week… And a few things I want to talk about in-depth. So here’s the oh-so brief rundown, with more to come shortly…

Show Of Hands: Yet Another Depressing Infographic, Anyone?

Sorry if this graphic renders huge but, hey, it`s worth seeing. In glorious, depressing detail.

The shocker for me was that Lena Dunham was the first woman honored by the DGA. It`s the 21st century and, really, this is just happening now. Really?

Bright side:  It`s great to be inspired by women who are really at the top of their game. Especially Ava DuVernay. I had a chance to hear her speak at TIFF this past year. She is awesome. All the women listed here are doing amazing and inspiring work. There`s lots out there to get inspired by. That`s the good news. So let`s focus on that for the moment.

Thanks to the New York Film Academy.

New York Film Academy takes a look at gender inequality in film