Screenwriter Katherine Fugate (Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve) offered up a recent Twitter rant on some of the harsh realities of working as a writer in Hollywood. Reprinted here by permission:
Black fact is: The system is flawed, rigged, unfair. Your script will be judged by people who shouldn’t be judging your work. #writerwed
— katherine fugate (@katherinefugate) September 24, 2014
Black Fact is: Execs will read your script on their phone while driving, by the pool while drinking. Notes will reflect that.
Black Fact is: Execs will bitch on Twitter/FB how much they hate to read, forgetting you spent weeks/months bleeding the work.
Black Fact is: You will go in for a notes meeting and Execs won’t have read the script and will quote from coverage.
Black Fact is: By the time you get to production your script will be a watered down version of what it once was.
Black Fact is: Everyone thinks they can write. Writing is easy. Everyone looks for what is wrong, finds it and tells you.
Black Fact is: Shitty scripts get made. Brilliant ones don’t. The system is rigged. But keep throwing the dice.
Black Fact is: Execs give you notes they hate themselves. They answer to others. So when they can’t explain why – that’s why.
Black Fact is: Your script will be churned through a dumbing down machine, not a smarting up one. Fight it as much as you can.
Black Fact is: Most have no idea what you do, how hard it is, what it takes. Same with actors on auditions, etc. They just don’t.
Black Fact is: You write a script because a story burns from the inside out. You don’t write to get loved, laid, paid, it made.
Black Fact is: It is still worth it. You can still reach people with your words, you can inspire, elevate and change minds.
Black Fact is: The business is not fair. Not everyone is making art. Not everyone deserves their job. But some do. SOME DO.
Black Fact is: Everyone feels unappreciated, unheard, messed with, disposable, replaceable. No one is, yet everyone is.
Black Fact is: There is greater comfort in what has been done before rather than risking the unknown. The artists must be braver.
Black Fact is: You can drive yourself crazy trying to understand why they don’t get it. They won’t get it. It’s not their job.
Black Fact is: They think they are right. You think you are right. Right is subjective. Right is personal. Know when to let go.
Black Fact is: In the end, it is everyone’s film. A Film By Everyone. Not you, not dir, not actor, not studio. Everyone invests.
Black Fact is: Everyone works their ass off. Don’t be credit grabby. Cast, crew, costumes, grips, props, crafty, all. Thank them.
Black Fact is: Some people will make your script better. Some people will make it worse. Some people will make it different.
Black Fact is: There are shitty execs. There are great execs who will make you a better writer. Just like lovers. Choose wisely.
Black Fact is: Sometimes their idea is better. Sometimes. Don’t discount any idea because it wasn’t yours. Try it on for size.
Black Fact is: Too much emphasis is put on Joe Audience. To make story what Joe wants. But they haven’t met Joe. Joe isn’t real.
Black Fact is: You will succeed knowing the Black Facts exist. Part of the crooked game. Now go play your best game, wide awake.
Black Fact is: It all gets out. You sleep with someone for a job. You’re hard to work with. You’re late. This is a JOB. Be smart.
Black Fact is: Many talented people don’t work. Your agents package now, bigger game. They don’t need your 10%. You must do more.
Black Fact is: I am a female writer. Yes, it is harder to get hired. But this is my job. Write better, make it harder to say no.
Black Fact is: Someone will hate your script. They won’t get it. No matter what you do. Make like @idinamenzel and Let. It. Go.
Black Fact is: The reward comes very very late. When you are standing in the back of the theater and hear applause or tears.
Black Fact is: The reward comes in a letter from a mother thanking you for writing a female character with a brain and a goal.
Black Fact is: The reward comes from a woman telling you she left her abusive husband because you wrote a strong female character.
Black Fact is: The reward comes from a man telling you he hated gay people but sorta liked that gay NFL QB player you wrote.
Black Fact is: The rewards don’t come when you expect and from whom you expect. Trust they will come later. Wait for them.
Black Fact is: You may be the only one trying to make a difference. That’s okay. Stay true. Fluff comes easy, substance does not.
Black Fact is: Original writers, like NFL head coaches, are on the clock to being fired or replaced. Make your impact.
Black Fact is: A Film By credit is ugly. It is ego. It is elitist and excludes all the people who work hard on a movie.
Black Fact is: Everyone thinks their contribution made/saved the movie. If you are all working on the same page – they should.
I am slated to direct my first film, an indie. I am not taking A Film By credit.
You should follow Katherine on Twitter: @katherinefugate.