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Friday, November 07, 2008

Shoot The Blogger

Let's get one thing straight: Shooting People is a great resource for screenwriters, actors, filmmakers. I constantly recommend it to my newbie writing clients. It's helped me personally no end - I've got script reading gigs from it, got discounts on various stuff, made contacts, begun friendships and collaborations, not to mention had hours of interesting reading each morning (I always either forget to check forums, or spend every waking hour on them, so think the arrival of the list each morning is a great idea).

But as I've mentioned only recently and various Bloggers have discussed before around www.land and I have with various people in real life, the dialogue section of SP can turn tiresome from time to time. It seems that there are various subjects that boomerang back again, not to mention moanfests about how unfair schemes like the UKFC's "25 Words or Less" are. Script readers seem to be frequently under attack and Adrian Mead has even been called a "spammer". Insults and accusations are levvied at the work of directors Shooters dislike, such as the seemingly universally hated "Happy Go Lucky" that spiralled into a melee of name-calling and assertions about Mike Leigh.

I should mention at this juncture: none of this criticism is levvied at the moderator of the screenwriters' bulletin, Andy Conway. He does a fantastic job wading through posts from weirdoes like myself. He can only work with what he has and actually, a lot of the time dialogue is good when contributors are more focused. In addition, I reckon flame wars have gone down by approximately 90% (that's a statistical fact by the way, arf) since Andy started moderating the list two years ago and he DOES make an effort to stamp out those repetitive threads. Only this morning he posited the idea in his editorial that he should ban posts with certain key words in, lol.

So - looking at what I consider the "bad" dialogue on SP then, I wonder: is this REALLY the face we want to present as writers? Writers often complain they don't get taken seriously by producers and the like. Is this part of the reason why?

Andy mentions in his response to my post today that "no one gets flamed", but I don't agree that someone calling someone else a "spammer" is "a frank exchange of views". Shooting People is by no means unusual in this regard - The Hubster belongs to an angling forum (yes, I'm a fishing widow) and I'm always surprised by the level of vitriol they levvy at each other for not knowing what type of bait or hook to use on what type of fish (eugh).

Why is it that we say things on the internet we wouldn't dream of in real life? Because of the anonymity I suppose - but I think this desire to say exactly what we feel actually gets in the way of intelligent debate and us growing as writers. You'd talk to your mates in the pub about how crap a film is and how you wanted to punch the lead in the face: on a forum or list like SP, why can't we talk about what we would have PREFERRED to see in a film we didn't like, sans accusations, swearing and general assertions about how I AM RIGHT AND YOU ARE WRONG? It can be done.

Well anyway, that's just what I think. But I know I'm right and if you don't agree with me you're all doped-up halfwits : P . Arf.

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MY POST: I'm with Andy who expressed disbelief yesterday that the argument about screenwriting books has come round AGAIN. That, along with the questions, "can talent be taught?" and "what constitutes "good" grammar?", are just three notions that come up on this list with alarming regularity. Are we really sitting at our PCs and Macs with no other thoughts than what screenwriting book to read or burn, whilst worrying if we have God-given talent as we scour BBC Skillswise and "Eats, Shoots & Leaves"? I hope not.

I love Shooting People, naturally, but I have to admit I am skimming the screenwriters' bulletin these days. I would love to see some dialogue on here that surprises - no accusations or flame wars either, or slagging off contributors, directors, producers, or people we disagree with.

It's easy to point the finger, harder to create. Many of my Bang2writers confess they are "scared" of posting in to SP in case people "get on their case". I think this is a real shame. Let's stimulate some real debate and stop repeating ourselves. It shouldn't be difficult - we ARE writers.

Have a fab weekend, Lucy : )
www.lucyvee.blogspot.com

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ANDY'S RESPONSE

This is a little unfair, Lucy. We have lots of new members who might not be familiar with arguments that we haven't had here for over a year (August 2007, and even then only a brief flare up quickly stamped out). And those people who tell you they're scared of writing here just amaze me. No one ever gets flamed here. I don't allow it. But we do have the occasional frank exchange of views. If anyone is scared of that then I give up on them as a writer that has anything to say to anyone. I've been editing this bulletin for over two years and one thing I know for sure by now is that the people who bitch about it from afar are the ones who never ever write in or contribute, no matter how much you try to address their gripes. As you say, it's easy to point the finger, harder to create.
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14 comments:

Anya said...

Whilst I agree totally Luce, I am troubled by one small factor: is there not a certain irony in complaining about people complaining? ;-)

Lucy said...

No.

Move along now.

Anya said...

Yes madam!

Dom Carver said...

Personally I don't read the forum because of a bad experience on Trigger Street years ago. It's not that I don't like healthy debate, I just find casual insults unnecessary and boring.

We all have our moans, mine is there are too many time wasters replying to script pitches, but there other ways to express these views than just on the forums. A nice email to Andy suggesting improvements for instance.

As for the same old arguments... Well, I'm not getting into that one again ;-)

Lucy said...

I've never been a member of Triggerstreet Dom, but I have heard similar about it from other people. I had a bad experience on another writing site donkey's ago when I posted about a competition with a link and someone who reckoned they were from the comp had a massive go at me and bombarded me with private messages saying I was giving too much away and any entry I thus made would be disqualified! Very bizarre. Plenty of bloggers get snarky anonymous comments or even emails; I know I have. It's a sorry state of affairs: it's these experiences though that put people off from the "healthy debate" you mention.

Lara said...

Quite honestly Lucy, every year I renew my membership with SP just to be entertained by the flame wars. There was a recent l-o-n-g argument that exploded on the Casting Bulletin which in itself summed up everything about low/no budget filmaking and the 'London-centric mentality'.

Now - no-one is allowed to flame me for that as a) I live in the London Region and b) I have 'done my time' on many low/no budget projects.

Personally I don't post on SP as if I am flamed the urge to find out who the poster is and torch them, would be unbearable. But there's nothing wrong with good old fashioned debate. So there.

;) x

Lucy said...

Yes, I heard about that from another actress I know! : ) I agree, there can be a certain [guilty] entertainment to flame wars Lara - especially if one is an outsider in them - but I do think ultimately this solipsistic view that a person is always right is to be discouraged. I'd really love to hear more about the PHILOSOPHY of screenwriting, novel writing, etc - plus more legal stuff about contracts, options and whatnot. We could REALLY help each other via the dialogue; instead we're talking about how shite certain movies are and whether screenwriting books are any good again. As Andy said himself on the list yesterday, there are other things to talk about.

Lara said...

Oh, there's a whole world of stuff to talk about and yes, there are a zillion opportunities and bits of info we should be helping each other out with.

However, as long as there are people out there who act like 'Forum 'elf & safety' making sure everyone can hear their CORRECT voices LOUD and CLEAR, I guess good old-fashioned courtesy and assistance will have to remain with places like TwelvePoint and in the realm of the [Scribo]Blogger?!

x

Lucy said...

Yes it's weird that the blogs are [relatively] clear of hardcore whingers and nutters. Sure there's some snarkiness and the odd blog full of vitriol, but generally speaking people behave themselves. I did wonder if Twelve Point's forum would go crazy with mentalists but luckily that hasn't happened, even though there's quite a few members. Perhaps it's the fact the eminent Julian Friedmann is at the helm and he's a literary agent, ie. they don't want to blot their copybook?

potdoll said...

The filmmaker SP bulletin is very useful but the screenwriter one hasn't enhanced my life in any shape or form.

Chip Smith said...

Got to say I agree with Potdoll on that one - the Writer's Guild bulletin is a much better bet, I think...

Lucy said...

This is a real shame - I think the Screenwriters' Bulletin can be great. Recently there was some interesting stuff about treatments for example and copyright on jokes. But it would seem there's quite a few people disillusioned with the dialogue on the list. Can't we turn it around?

potdoll said...

I wonder if the debates should be confined to a forum or message boards within the SP website rather than on a personal email, so that those who want to read rant and debate can go there?

It might be a much nicer start to the day if the bulletins that pop into our inbox each morning were to contain what's on, what's happening, useful links and articles etc? They could link to certain debates in the forums for anyone to go and visit if they were interested in that topic?

Keep it professional, like Chip says, is a great idea - the guild's newsletter sort of thing. The bulletins give screenwriters a bad name because they include often petty and even nasty debates that are often more about egos than thoughtful debate. I don't want to read that while I'm eating my porridge. I want to start the day on a positive note.

The bulletins should feel inclusive because they are (I think?) uncensored and any member can post. Yet I find them very alienating.

And that is very sad, because when I first joined Shooting People back in the day, I was looking for a community.

Chip Smith said...

There's no doubt about it, the SP bulletin can be a brilliant resource (after all, I did get a script of mine read by Pitof through it :-0)- but I have to question whether it's the right place to undertake 'debate' of any sort (which often just decends into a pointless tit for tat). All too often people sling opinions about with essentially nothing in the way of critical insight to back them up (the recent Mike Leigh 'debate', for instance). Such as it is, I don't pay to subscribe to SP and I'm not likely to any time soon.

And Potdoll's absolutely right - I'd prefer to keep the SP 'debates' to a forum and out of the bulletin. But then again, the bulletin might start to look a little on the thin side, I guess...

On the other side of the fence, the Writer's Guild bulletin is a much better bet as far as I'm concerned, and a lot more informative/useful as a result. And no 'opinions' clogging up the bandwidth ;-)