News Flash: Hollywood Says No A Lot Dept.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2013-02-13 22:00:00 No comments

Devin Faraci goes to town on Daniel H. Wilson's complaints about not getting his movies made into books despite being optioned:

Successful Author Cries About His Bad Books Never Becoming Movies | Badass Digest

I do get the idea that it's disappointing to not have your book become a movie. Setting aside the low quality of Wilson's work, any writer must be thrilled, in some way, to imagine a great Hollywood movie version of their  story. It has to be a bummer to see that hope deflated again and again. As a human being I know what that feels like, because we've all had good things happen to us and then been disappointed that these good things weren't even better. It's the guy in business class moaning about how he's not in first class.

The most embarrassing thing about Wilson's essay is not the hand-wringing and the forelock-tugging (although those are bad enough, and I leave Faraci's fangs and claws to do their work on those things), but the total lack of willingness to seek perspective from others. Had he sought the ear of, for instance, John Scalzi -- who has had his work repeatedly optioned and thus far never filmed -- he might well have learned a thing or two about how Hollywood will pay people piles and piles of money for work that will most likely never go in front of a camera.

This is not an aberration, and I'm a little amazed anyone with even peripheral contact with Hollywood doesn't understand this yet. Hollywood's function is to buy talent and material,  to write off the costs for same as an investment, with a finished product being the exception and not the rule.

Back when The Ring (the amazingly-not-terrible U.S. version) was still fresh out of scaring the daylights out of people, I remember reading about how the whole mini-boom of remaking Japanese horror was essentially the fault of one man whose career mostly consisted of buying properties from Japan dirt cheap and then turning them around for development on these shores. The vast, vast majority of such properties picked up were never made. But optioning them for cheap was a way to stake a claim on something that for all he knew could be turned into the next hit. The biz is like that.

I see a parallel issue with the way fans snicker up their sleeves at Guillermo del Toro being behind 30,000 projects that also never come to fruition. But again, the biz is like that. If you don't have a whole panoply of stuff under development at any one time, a) people assume you're not working, and b) you have no way of knowing if a given thing is going to take off without trying, and c) if you don't try, odds are someone else will swoop in and grab it from you. The fact that del Toro has that many projects that withered on the vine is a good thing, not a bad one. It's proof that he's a hard worker. Given the sheer animosity towards real creativity in Hollywood, the fact the guy gets anything made at all doth gast my flabber.

And not to toot my own Miles Davis or anything, but this whole sitch was something I was already painfully aware of by the time I left high school, courtesy of everything from Frederik Pohl's writings on filmed SF to Harlan Ellison's tirades on same to you-name-it. It disappoints me that a writer -- who presumably prides himself on his craft -- wouldn't bother to seek out the experiences of other, fellow, and senior writers in this regard. That's what ticks me off the most about that essay: it constitutes a wasted opportunity for both him and us.

Tags: Hollywood movies science fiction