Feedback, kindness and self evaluation.

There are already 427 comments to the hilarious “I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script” Josh Olson’s blog entry in the Village Voice . I’ve read the first 380 or so. Clearly the writing has hit a nerve. The author plays a furious pro who has to deal with the barrage of help requests from various “civilians” (link)

I’d like to suggest that, contrary to the heated discussion, the issue is not so much about how to break into the industry, whether to pester the insiders with (to put it gently) undiscovered work, or to what extend (if at all) the pros should be kind to those who approach them seeking help. The real question beneath the “I will not read...” controversy deals with two aspects of our attempts to communicate with others.

The first aspect has to do with self-evaluation. We don’t immediately see our mistakes. They become clear to us only over time. Teaching is a controlled process that helps to collapse or shorten time needed to see our shortcomings. In life this teaching is called maturing. For some it takes a lifetime. In film it takes years or decades. On each step of this life/craft journey most of us think we have already reached understanding or being “good at something”. Time passes and we learn that we were wrong.

When we erroneously think we “know” we attempt to share our “scripts”. Yet they are not ready. How can we master the difficult skill of self-evaluation so that we don’t hurt others by immature life decisions or don’t submit junk scripts? How can we step outside and really see the fruits of our actions or “artistic” labor? It is almost impossible without a kind help from “the other.” Unfortunately no formula exists how to seek this help. Each case requires special handling and enough sensitivity so we don’t torture others with assaults on their time and good will.

The second aspect deals with difficulties of being a saint. Only a saint can fully let go of anger and frustration when dealing with a hopeless case of ignorance or stupidity, usually totally blind to reasoning. If we know something that “the other” does not, most of the time there is no way to communicate it to “the other.” Experience is not transferable. Neither in life nor in the arts. Unless of course the listener is ready to hear the speaker, which happens so rarely that it justifies “I will not read your fucking script” rant. That's why in martial arts the teacher appears only when the student is ready.

Synchronistically, among the comments there is one that mentions Eric Roth as an example of a thoughtful, emphatic behavior toward “a civilian” who wasn’t even seeking “a Hollywood connection.” The anecdote points to something that I tried to address in my previous entry about a possible source of the effectiveness of Roth’s screenwriting.

No comments:

Post a Comment