By Mark Reilly
Howdy, howdy folks of the Roundtable; of the Reilly varietals! I’m back after a long break in which I was very busy. I apologize, nay; I throw myself at the mercy of your collective footsies begging for forgiveness.
You see folks; I went on a pilgrimage of sorts… Lately, I have been disassembling the peeps in Hollywood for only making those remakes… or reboots; course there are your re-imaginings, your updates, your based on’s and your Fast and the Furious’ part seven or something…
I was getting pretty down about it all, the lack of creativity out there in our movies seems to be ringing the death knell. How will the world cope, will it all come to an end???
Dramatic? Sure. True? Nah. Reason to cry? Depends…
But after this past weekend, I am filled with hope. Like the ghost said in that baseball movie… “If you write it, they will come…” That’s what he said, right? I can’t remember.
I was able to cover and attend the 2011 Screenwriting Expo this past weekend. Not only was I amazed by the amount of passionate people rubbing elbows and talking shop, I was thrilled to also interview and speak with working screenwriters who are like-minded and just as passionate as those in attendance. It was a huge gathering of artists who write and who love movies… the sense of community I felt there was wonderful. And it’s good to know that there is no shortage of ideas out there for Hollywood to sooner or later scoop up. After all, though try as they may, Hollywood will always – ALWAYS need the writer and this past weekend proves they aren’t going anywhere no matter how many movies they remake:
I guess it’s time I put to rest my feelings of abject hatred for these reboots and remakes… They are going to happen whether I say something or not. I’m thinking soon, Hollywood will tire out.
Because at the Expo, there wasn’t a single person there walking around peddling a remake. They weren’t getting ready to pitch their take on a new GOONIES or perhaps another SCARFACE (wait- NEW FLASH—SCAREFACE is being remade!)
I digest… The people at the Expo had something Hollywood doesn’t: an original idea. I know we are in a time of branding and business and movies cost money yada, yada… bullshit, bullshit, bullshit… But I really think we are on the edge of a new renaissance of commercialism and entertainment. There are highs and lows and round and round we go… There will always be remakes but soon, the audience will tire out – these re-hashes will be too much to handle, the shtick will wear out its welcome… You know, like Jim Carrey.
At the Expo, I got to speak with a ton of writers, amateur and professional. And the one thing that was consistent was their dedication to the craft. Simply put, they all had a story to tell.
Even more amazing, these screenwriters, fearless as they all were (and are) they would schedule time to meet with industry professionals to pitch their stories in what’s known as the Golden Pitch Fest. Five minutes and they would have to wow the man/woman/monkey seated behind the desk. Not an easy task.
A weekend with seminars, how to’s and the ability to make a great connection. After all the bitching I’ve done about there being no original ideas in Hollywood, this weekend helped me realize it wasn’t the lack of originality as much it is just the business.
But the best part of the expo was the speakers who came in to talk of their successes. The professionals who are just like you and me – the writers out there pounding the pavement. They are good at what they do and they acknowledge how lucky they are to be doing it. It was these sessions that I for one learned the most.
For I was able to personally speak with Mark Fergus (IRON MAN, CHILDREN OF MEN and COWBOYS AND ALIENS) and ALFRED GOUGH and MILES MILLAR (SMALLVILLE, CHARLIES ANGELS and SPIDER-MAN 2).
Notice the credits after the names? I’m sure you might be able to predict the level of “geek out” I achieved.
Mark Fergus was so rad to talk to… Yup, I just unearthed “Rad” to use here… Anyways… The level of passion and knowledge of character and story this guy had was amazing; and to be honest, we both geeked out over IRON MAN. I had so many questions for him; all we really did was talk about IRON MAN and the character of TONY STARK.
“You know, Tony needs to empower himself to fight the evil that he’s put out in the world – his own evil. I love a good screw up like Tony Stark and, you know, the guy in Children of Men. All the characters we like to work on are these guys with huge, huge flaws. And they just have to — they have to go grapple with themselves. That sets you off on a good journey to — hopefully write a good movie…” Mark Fergus
Just one of the cool things we discussed, from a writing perspective. I never really thought of Tony Stark as a man that was really fighting himself the whole movie. It’s easy to just look at it as a guy that puts on cool armor and shoots people and flies away. Getting into it with Mr. Fergus, I was able to learn about the process, his thought process to one of the biggest blockbusters of all time. And that’s just plain cool.
Speaking of blockbusters of all time… The icing on top was being able to sit down with Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, creators of SMALLVILLE and the writers on SPIDER-MAN 2.
Again, talking about the movie making process, the writing, the highs and lows, it was amazing to see how humble and down to Earth they were. Their stories were more behind the scenes stuff rather than the art of writing… My favorite being after the first year of SMALLVILLE, they were too crazed to do anything else and were brought into the SPIDERMAN set to watch the last scene being filmed with the GREEN GOBLIN on his glider fighting Spidey. Right there, Sam Raimi asks if they wanted to write the sequel.
I mean, come on! You don’t get a cooler job! Writing for Spidey and Superman? They are my two favorite superheroes of all time, by the by…
It was a great weekend, one that every writer – hell – every film buff should take up and experience. And I’m glad I got to experience it… Now I am refreshed and less bitter about the state of the industry, because of the professionals I got to speak with like Mark Fergus, Al Gough ad Miles Millar, and especially in seeing the hardworking storytellers out there putting their work in front of the faces of Hollywood.
Sooner or later, Hollywood will take notice. Glad there’s a place out there like The Screenwriting Expo that cares enough to wave their hands in the faces of the studios.
Okie dokie fellow Roundtablers… I will be back again with the full interviews of Mark Fergus and Al and Miles so you guys can get an idea of what I’m talking about! Stay tuned here or at my Twitter feed http://twitter.com/#!/ReillyAround where I’ll post an update on when you can read the article!
Until then, I’ll see you in line…
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