.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}


Stories from a seasoned screenwriter. Take heart! Your creative source is infinite and un-ending. Sometimes Hollywood just rips up the roadmap back to it. The bottom line is that Hollywood is not at all as bad as it sounds. Additionally, it's worse than you can imagine. Remember to pack a sense of humor.


I am a screenwriter living in Southern California. I've written screenplays for most of the Hollywood studios over the past 20 years. One of the uncredited writers of FANTASTIC FOUR, I wrote FIRE DOWN BELOW starring Steven Seagal, and the TV Movie 12:01 PM starring Martin Landau and MANEATER with Gary Busey. I have directed short films. I have written on numerous Hollywood studio assignments, some for big shot actors, some for small shot nobodies.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Words as Toys

I have a friend who was lamenting the other night that he didn't write something like MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, because even though it was crap it did so well at the box office.

Are we having fun yet?

First of all, I thought the movie was funny.

Second of all, all I could think of to say was - the author didn't write it to make a box office smash, she wrote it because she loved writing it and it cracked her up.

Same for JACKASS, by the way. Sure there's a financial formula involved, but those jack asses really LIKE what they're doing and it shows.

The energy that goes into any project, is the energy we feel coming back out of it.

If that energy is fun, if your happiness goes in, or even if it's bittersweet and you're writing a tragedy, if it's still thrilling to you, soul healing, or just plain fun, we'll feel it.

Andthat's contagious.

So don't forget to play with words as if they were toys.

And don't play with words as if each line has to make $200 mill at the box office.

It's more of a problem for those who are successful. You begin feeling like you have to feed that success and you begin to second guess and doubt yourself. When the reality is, if you just be true to the fun you're having, the success will just come.

I'm a bootleg music collector, Beatles primarily, and the one thing that has blown me away when I hear a rehearsal track, or an out take of an incredibly famous song, is how much fun these guys were having together when they worked. Experimenting, trying different versions of the same song, not afraid to completely kill a slow version of something and turn it into something fast and you suddenly recognize the hit. What starts as a ballad on one track, becomes a hard rock hit several tracks later. Same song. Or the heavy metal sounding jam because a lighter rock hit because they pulled way back on the intensity - and you recognize the hit. They were incredibly unattached to what something had to be - they just loved an idea, ran with it, played with it, listened to it, followed the flow where it took them - until it felt right.

Don't be afraid to follow the flow and play even as you work within an outline.

And truly, the energy you put into your project is the energy people will get back out when they pick it up and read it.

Think of words as toys.


Blogger shecanfilmit said...

The thing about My Big Fat Greek Wedding is that my older relatives loved it. My sister and I took them to see it in the movie theater and they laughed and laughed, then bought the DVD. Many of my serious film friends make fun of the movie or claim to not "understand" why it was so popular. It was a heartfelt family story told in a comic way that wasn't vulgar. If your friend is serious, he should search his life for an interesting inter-generational event that might appeal to less sophisticated viewers. Nia's take home pay from her crappy little movie? 35 million.

Speaking as an outsider, I think that sometimes Hollywood gets too far up its own ass and can't see easy wins in the marketplace that are both fun for the writer and fun for the audience.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006  
Blogger Philip Morton said...

shecan: I agree. There's a lot of 'trying too hard' out here that can ruin a movie. half of that is when marketing and corporate get involved as well, a true nightmare. You've got to be having fun, and be delighted in what you're doing, regardless of what you do.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006  
Blogger Chesher Cat said...

Life's too short to play it any other way.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006  
Blogger Jessica said...

The world would be a better place if we all found such joy in our work.

Saturday, September 30, 2006  
Blogger Caroline said...

nicely said, jessica

that was my reality check of the day, cheers

Wednesday, October 04, 2006  
Blogger MaryAn Batchellor said...

Who gets to decide if a movie is crap? A Moped is not a Bentley but that doesn't make it crap. It makes it a Moped.

Thursday, October 05, 2006  
Blogger Schrumpfkopf said...

Wasting time candy so much fun :)

Thursday, October 05, 2006  
Blogger Dante Kleinberg said...

It seems like any time a movie comes out that even LOOKS like it might be cute fun for women or grandmothers, my girlfriend and/or grandmother rush out to see it. My grandmother loved My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

I agree write what you love, but it wouldn't hurt to write a few more cute fun movies for those folks who never feel compelled to go.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006  
Blogger greg said...


We miss you.

I'm sure you're writing something brilliant - but we miss you.

Come back to the five and dime.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006  
Anonymous DC said...

I was just about to ask if anyone knew where Phil went... this is one of my favorite blogs to read and the advice and stories are always valuable.

Hope he's just hogtied with writin' duties, and doesn't hate me :-(


Wednesday, November 22, 2006  
Blogger Word Demon said...

Very Interesting...

Friday, December 01, 2006  
Blogger Alex Epstein said...

Which Beatles bootlegs do you most recommend? And where do you get'em?

Saturday, March 10, 2007  
Blogger Schmucks with Underwoods said...

Hey Phil? Still around?

Sunday, May 13, 2007  
Blogger Eleanor said...

I miss you dude.

Hope whatever you're doing, it's going well.

Friday, July 27, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Phil,

I miss your words, man. Where did you go?

Friday, October 05, 2007  
Blogger Jeff said...

Well it's been over a year...

Hope you're okay man.

You were one of the best screenplay bloggers out there.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007  
Blogger Ryan said...

Hi Phil,

I really enjoyed reading your back post. Very insightful and deep. I hope you pick it up again as time permits.

Friday, June 20, 2008  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home