I’ve avoided the Screenwriting Expo for the past three years because I’ve naturally assumed I already know everyone and everything re the movie industry in general and screenwriting in particular. This kind of stinky arrogance repeatedly causes me nothing but suffering. But that doesn’t stop me. No sir. Suffering, sir? Bring it on, sir! Self-inflicted suffering, sir? Bring it on on, sir! Unnecessary self-inflicted suffering, sir? Bring it on on on…and so forth.
And true, being a writer and all, the last thing I want to do is interact at length with the real world. Not that writing is any great pleasure either. But it is much more comforting to be able to sit down at a page and write “They lived happily ever after – and that’s the truth”, than to have to negotiate the disorienting network of currents and tides that is our everyday second to second existence. Add people to those tides and it’s “Beaches Closed” as far as I’m concerned.
So no one is more surprised than me am when I say that I really enjoyed the networking and flesh-pressing and how-ya-doing-ing of this weekend’s Screenwriting Expo IV. In fact I found myself taking to it – like a cat takes to water, in some cases, but with after a couple hours of practice I think I started seeming quite un-hysterical.
I ran into gangs of people I knew throughout the Expo, some from as far back as film school and some whom I’d met only a month ago under very un-screenwriterly circumstances. It’s always amazing to me how you can drop in at an event of thousands and keep seeing your homies. It’s a small world after, all.
It was a pleasure to see USC CNTV classmate Will Plyler, whose Done Deal is one of the most important resources for screenwriters on – I think it’s safe to say – the entire planet Earth. Yes, it’s always a pleasure to see him. But whenever I run into Will, even if it’s been a long time between meetings, I always come away with a feeling of “Why was he being so nice to me?” To date I have been unable to detect the sinister motive behind his niceness – other than innate cheerfulness and genuine good, no pun intended, will. Naturally this is very unsettling, because I usually have to be promised substantial rewards before I even crack a smile. The fact that Will may like me is not something I’m yet able to consider. I’ll talk to my therapist and get back to you.
It had also been a long time since I’d chatted with William Goldman. Quite a long time. Years. Or more even. I don’t know. Could be…Okay, never ever met him ever. But after his panel discussion with David Koepp, moderated by Creative Screenwriting’s Den Shewman, I did jostle my way through the armpit-stained mob to say thanks to him and David and Den.
You know how it is when you’re toward the back of a handshaking line and the line is so long that by the time you reach the person, you really feel very horrible about the whole situation, like you’re complicit in some atrocity, like you may be the person who is responsible for sucking away the last of this person’s vital energy? It was like that with William Goldman. Yesterday I shook hands with one of the greatest living movie writers. All I can think about today is how guilty I feel for shaving another week off his life.