Thursday, April 26, 2007

This blog is a liability

a printing press

I went to a movie yesterday with a friend and fellow writer trying to break into the world of TV and film. He's had a lot more experience in this world than I - work he's done has been nominated for an emmy - but he's still having trouble getting staffed.

I casually mentioned I had a blog.

He told me to never tell that to anyone in the industry. He implied I should stop doing it altogether and delete the whole thing.

"I know a guy," he said, "who was told by a network executive that he'd been passed over because they didn't want him writing about their show on a blog."

Perhaps this is wise advice in a place that's inspired book titles such as "YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN", but I told my friend that it was already too late. Anyone googling my name will find out I have a blog.

And, of course, I'd already considered this possible reaction and made my own decision about it. Which is that anyone re-acting this way toward a blog published under my own name is so paranoid that you've got to wonder what other strange contortions you might have to go through to work under/for them. Afterall, if people are afraid you have ideas on a blog about them, well, they're going to be afraid you have ideas about them elsewhere too.

The position of "I won't hire someone who blogs" is even more absurd when you consider how easy it is to blog anonymously. And how simple it is to create one at ANY time.

Now, I know people in a position to hire/help me have read this blog. I've seen the link referrals from MTA, Revolution Studios, Disney, Paramount and ABC. Plenty of theatre companies have looked, too.

None of these folks are banging down my door with contracts and options and production opportunities. But my guess is that it isn't because they're afraid I'm going to "tattle" - which is decidedly not the purpose of the blog anyway. It's that they haven't felt strongly enough about the work they've seen from me to do anything other than look.

I remember something one of the Farelly brothers (of all people) said at my MFA graduation ceremony: Have an opinion and don't be afraid to voice it.

This blog is part of that. But it's also, interestingly, made me more careful about what I say. That is, when writing out my opinions about what's going on with me and what I see in the world, I actually have to reflect in tranquility (thank you, Mr. Wordsworth) on what it is I'm saying. And how I say it.

If nothing else, that's been worthwhile.

And even then people have their own impressions. An ABC guy told me that my blog seemed to be "a shrine to your wife."

And truth be told, I've written about her a lot. Why wouldn't I? She's pretty much the reason I do everything anyway.


a printing press destroyed


Dave Tutin said...

Hollywood, like an old school ad agency, wants control. The toughest negotiations are never about money they are about control. Because control is power. And power, they believe, leads to even more money down the road. It's the same in music. I still see young bands working their asses off, creating great music, getting signed to labels and unwittingly signing away their publishing. Blissfully unaware that most of the future dollars will go to who "owns" the songs. And they just sold them cheap.

There will definitely be those who are uncomfortable about your blog. And there will be those who embrace it...and you. But I do think it makes us think twice about what we write about. It may not be right or fair but the truth is if I were to write down all my grievances and inside dope on the ad industry and then go and try to get a significant job in that industry again, I don't think it would happen. Whereas if I were to write about all I've learned from the ad biz in a positive, constructive manner it would be very different. So while I want to agree with "have an opinion and voice it" I am also reminded of the old adage "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything."
Not that you would say this - but I might - it's like putting on your blog that you were so angry about the way a meeting went you went out and got roaring drunk. It may be refreshingly honest but it's an insight into behavior that "employers" worry about. Your blog is filled with thoughful analysis and criticism (in the positive sense). I wouldn't worry too much about having the blog - but I would think carefully about the relevance of what you put on it going forward. For example it's quite possible that tv/film and theater are two quite separate worlds as far as Hollywood is concerned. It's possible that being a theatrical writer is not seen as a postitive...just as working in advertising is not always seen as a positive when we try to become 'serious' writers.

In the end of the day, it's the easiest thing in the world to agree when you accept a project that you will not write about it or the people you're dealing with. That's only fair after all in the word of ideas.

One thing I've learned: There's absolutely nothing wrong with censorship if it's self-censorship.

Jeff Shattuck said...

I'm with Dave. Further, it just makes no sense that in industry that profits of off self-expression would want to limit it.

patrick said...

I'm not an expert on the film industry, so it's hard to say how they'll react.

But I think the important thing to keep in mind is that you're not a fool. Your blog is thoughtful and not an overlowing anxiety closet or a bitch-fest. You understand that the people you work with might read what you write, thus you think carefully about what you write.

In some ways, an anonymous blog would be more risky, because then you might feel freer to vent and let loose on people. But, of course, folks eventually find out, and then it can come back to cause damage.

As Dave pointed out above, it's probably a good policy not to write about people with whom one is currently working. I know have to hold myself back sometimes, because it's tempting to write on my blog about frustrations with negotiations or a production, but I'd never do so. It's bad business.