Monkey Business: Frustration With Writing Assignments, Part 1

I’ve always loved writing for a variety of reasons. It’s a wholly creative endeavor, one in which I am able to create characters, the worlds they inhabit, and the events they experience. Call it a God complex if you like, but I’ve always enjoyed that sense of creation and control. Because I can see everything so clearly in my mind’s eye, and also because I love movies so much, I figured that screenwriting would be the perfect medium to make use of my talents.

When I was younger, I had dreams of following in the footsteps of Black or Eszterhas, selling spec scripts for upwards of $3 million. In college, I bragged that I was going to become the Puff Daddy of Hollywood — whatever that meant — and take over the game. I almost came close once, actually. But then again, who hasn’t “almost come close,” right? Now that I’m older and wiser, however, I’ve come to accept that I may not sell that million dollar spec. It’s not going to stop me from trying, but now my focus is more on honing my craft and writing so well that I’m offered assignments. So far, so … well … just so.

I’m currently working on something. Along with my writing partner T.S. Johnson, who maintains quite a few blogs over there in my Blogroll including the ever popular Brown Sugar, I’ve been working on a feature film treatment that, for the purposes of this blog, we’ll call Monkey Business. Miss Johnson met with an indie producer down in Florida who didn’t pitch an idea so much as give elements he wanted to see in a story. Some very silly elements, but whatevs. He’s the money man, he’s paying us to come up with something, so in the words of Young Jeezy, let’s get it.

So we got it. A week after the initial meeting, Miss Johnson and I composed a pretty good story idea incorporating the elements and themes Mr. Producer wanted to explore. Sure, the actual logistics of the story needed working out, but the basic plot was there and as far as I’m concerned, that’s all you need. I’m a big believer in the axiom that states if you know your ending, the story will write itself.

But Mr. Producer wasn’t happy. And apparently he brought in another party who agreed that the direction we took the story wasn’t where they wanted to go. Okay, then, nigga, well what do you want?

He tells us. Again, keeping the same elements and exploring the same themes but this time Mr. Producer is a little more explicit what he wants. So, it’s back to the drawing board. Except Miss Johnson and I have no fucking idea where to go with this. Remember, it’s a silly idea we’re dealing with. And not Police Academy or Moving Violations silly — no, this is I can’t believe this is what he really wants us to write about silly.

This time, Miss Johnson and I divvied up the tasks. Based on what we had to work with, she devised a plot and framework, I created the characters. We meshed the components together, making sure all of the pieces fit together organically, and viola! we had another awesome treatment ready to hand in.

As of this writing, I’m not sure how Mr. Producer is going to react to the new idea we’ve come up with. But I can definitely say that this has been quite the crash course in dealing with someone who has no clue what the creative process entails but thinks they know more than you, the creative individual they hired for the gig. It reminds me of Kevin Smith’s Superman Reborn debacle with the giant spider. Miss Johnson and I have joked that Monkey Business is our giant spider.

All in all, I think our silly idea can actually become something substantial. A fine piece of entertainment, a pithy and observant social commentary. Truth be told, I’m aching to move past this stage and get on with the writing. Until then, I’m still hammering away at my own stuff. Rewriting, polish, and starting new specs. To appropriate a phrase used by my homegirl SG, I can’t sell it if I don’t write it. So I’m writin’ it.

Just wanted to vent. Thanks for reading. 🙂

Oh yeah: the “viola!” thing is an inside joke that very few people will get. I tried to find the image that corresponds to the joke, but alas I failed. Sadness engulfs me.

Oh, and click the Superman Reborn link. That shit’s hilarious, and sad. “Every day with the fuckin’ spider.”


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