5 Jobs That Hollywood Apparently Doesn't Realize It Needs
Hollywood may be the last truly booming American industry. The only problem is, there just aren't enough jobs in moviemaking to support the whole damn nation. Well, that's an easy problem to fix: Just make more! The tactic works with money, lies, and sandwiches, why not film careers? There are tons of simple tasks that absolutely no one in Hollywood is doing right now. If Hollywood needs help and the American worker needs a paycheck, let's hook those two up and make a success baby.
This is not the same thing as a researcher. Some films do their due diligence and study their subject matter thoroughly before release, but that's not always enough. Trust me, I speak from experience: You can spend 40 hours exhaustively investigating the plausibility of various jump-kicks in different action movies, but if you accidentally use the word "dearth" wrong while talking about it, that's all anybody's going to focus on. It's the little things that bring you down.
An example: In Prometheus, Charlize Theron's character, to emphasize how isolated and alone they were, stated, "We're a half billion miles away from Earth."
Neil deGrasse Tyson immediately pointed out that was a little past Jupiter. To put that into perspective, Voyager 1, launched in the '70s, has traveled 11.5 billion miles. So now Prometheus, this epic sci-fi adventure, is being outpaced by a primitive probe launched by a dude in bell bottoms.
But that's an easy fix: It takes no skill and 10 seconds to Google something. There's just no need to not know what the fuck you're talking about anymore. The great thing about a basic Googling position is that literally anybody is qualified for the job. In fact, the stupider and more ignorant you are, the better you are for the task -- every time you don't understand something, you just type it into Google and write down what shows up there. That capitalizes on two things we have in abundance in modern society: laziness and ignorance.
I know literal distance in space is not technically important to Prometheus' story -- I get that they're only using this throwaway dialogue to establish isolation within the narrative, and I understand what they meant. But anybody that had even a loose grasp of space (read: people who might be coming to see your space movie!) was just yanked right out of the film, and now they have enough ammo to make fun of the screenwriters until the day they die. Isn't paying some jackwad a measly 10 bucks an hour worth it to avoid mockery until death?
No, I'm not advocating that we take a page from the Third World and start a screenwriting sweatshop. Although honestly, now that I've put it out there -- I can promise you some Hollywood executive is fast at work making it a reality. Sorry about that, human rights.
By "child writers" I mean we need people to write the roles of children in movies. I get it, screenwriters: It's hard to write outside your own perspective. Males written by females tend to come off effeminate; females written by males tend to come off either ridiculously feminized or somewhat masculine. And no little kid writes screenplays, so little kids come off as strangely adult, or so infantile that they seem like they're recovering from a traumatic head injury.
There's a scene in one of the early episodes of Continuum that's trying to show how much the female lead, Kiera, misses her son. In it, she flashes back to when she first got her job as some sort of corporate-sponsored McCop. Kiera is explaining to her kid that she has to work late now, so she might not get home in time to tuck him in. And the boy is, like, totally shattered over this -- not because he misses his mom, but because he's got some sort of autistic obsession with tuck-ins. Kiera tells her son she'll come in to see him, even if he's asleep -- and the boy breathlessly enthuses, "I get two tuck-ins?!"
That kid is like 10.
He's old enough to call somebody a faggot on the Internet.
No way in hell is a 10-year-old saying shit like that to his mom. I'm not a parent. I don't like or understand children. They're like psychopathic goblins -- just weird little grabby pseudo-people with no impulse control. And even I can tell you that character's dialogue needs work. In an episode of Under the Dome, the cool teenagers are at the skate park, and one boy rides up the titular dome. His friends holler, and I quote: "Ride that dome! Ha! Yeah! Dome rider! Sick! Bro!"
That's not bad dialogue, because that's not even dialogue. I know teenagers are idiots, but they still use language to communicate, just like you or I. They don't have some sort of debilitating combination of Tourette syndrome and I, Spy where they just shout unrelated slang about stuff that's happening in front of them. For minimal cost, you could hire a writer who is way into children -- or, if you don't want to deal with the almost guaranteed molestation charges, you could actually hire some kids to just hang around and exist for a few hours. Everybody needs their first job, and telling some clueless screenwriter that you'd never say some bullshit like "Dome rider! Sick! Bro!" is way more satisfying than mixing sauce concentrate in an old bucket in the back of a Pizza Hut.
Titles are tough, screenwriters. I get it. Believe me, I get it. My first book ended up being called Rx: A Tale of Electronegativity, which was OK. But the working title was Timefuckers: Fuckers of Time. My current book's working title is Punks Versus Math. Every other title on the site I work for is some baffling form of mind-blowing. Titles are one of those things that are just way, way harder than they seem. But once you get the first in a series down, your job is mostly done: You've already got the built-in name recognition and, like an unambitious gay porn star, all you have to do is fill in the space after the colon. Die Hard was pretty good, as far as action movie titles go. Die Harder was retarded. I'm sorry, that was discourteous of me -- I meant "retardeder." Indiana Jones did a great job at sequel titling: Here's an ark that is being raided. A temple that is of doom. Indiana Jones and the Thing of the Thing: simple, classy, effective, and most of all, informative! Right off the bat, the audience knows they're getting Indiana Jones, an action, and at least one object. That's a lot of value for your money!
So how did something like 2 Fast 2 Furious make it past the first meeting? You realize if everybody busts out laughing during the brainstorming stage, that's only a good thing if you're writing a comedy, right? Perhaps objectivity is the issue here. Your writers are so jaded by coming up with title after title that they want to have some fun with it. The problem is, the audience isn't jaded by the film yet (well, not until they leave the theater, anyway), so maybe it's time to outsource the sequel naming. Leave it to your writers to come up with the compelling original titles, but don't waste their highly paid time on sequels. Get a focus group of a few minimum wage employees together, tell them it's the new The Fast and the Furious film and it's about man-children driving ridiculous cars sideways in Japan, and let them tell you it should be called The Fast and the Furious: Sideways Kyoto.
We can harp on Hollywood for all of its shortcomings -- cliche rehashed plots, lackluster characters, and reliance on insulting stereotypes -- but god damn can they ever jump a car over stuff. You can't take the action sequence away from Hollywood. Or at least, you couldn't. With the last wave of gritty action movies came the complete failure of the action scene. Suddenly, it was no longer about setting up the perfect angle to film a jet ski ramping through the chest of a great ape, but about shakily filming said ramp from 20 different angles and rapidly splicing them together to give the vague overall impression that a jet ski had done something -- jumped, perhaps -- and there might have been an ape involved. The end result is that we get fistfights from the point of view of the spastic housefly darting around the action and epic car chase sequences as experienced by a man undergoing a mild stress seizure.
For the most part, the cheesy blockbusters of yesteryear got it right: Independence Day had amazing action sequences, even if the Basic Googler thought you could upload a virus to an alien ship with a PowerBook (he can be forgiven -- they didn't have Google back then, and "alien virus powerbook" is exactly the kind of bullshit Ask Jeeves would have come back with). I don't know if all those old-school action choreographers died in tragically bitchin' pyrotechnic displays on the set of Michael Bay's breakfast, but we need them back. Or, failing that, we need anybody not absolutely crippled by ADD to stand on set, hold the camera still, and point it at the awesome. I know you want to put your film school degree to good use, auteurs, but a jump-kick does not need a three part act structure. You can just film a man kicking while jumping, and show it to us, and we will call it Van Damme, and we will call it good.
This one's easy: Every single movie in production needs a person whose only job is to read the book, then slap the director with it every time they say "Yeah, but what if ..."
Read more from Brockway at his own monument to narcissism/website, The Brock Way. Follow him on Goodreads, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.