Saturday, January 27, 2007

Close To The Action == Close To The Silly

Been reading a bunch about screenwriting, and one of the funny things is that Hollywood executives are so wrapped up in the deal-making, marketing, and other things associated with making movies that they often ask really stupid questions.

When Ted and I turned in our first draft GODZILLA screenplay, the studio was pretty happy with it. The usual story concerns, clarifications, character issues, etc. But one executive had an odd note -- almost an insistence. He wanted us to include a 'third monster' in the story. Our plot involved Godzilla (call him 'monster one') battling an adversary (call him 'monster two'). So, with the script at 128 pages and budgeted out to $150 million, why add a 'monster three' to the mix?

The reason, it turned out, was that the studio didn't own the sequel rights to GODZILLA. If they were going to spend all that money on a film, they wanted a character they could license, and star in a sequel. So we were supposed to write-in a buddy monster for Godzilla to pal around with.

Again, I outlined this logic to my (non-film) friend. His immediate response: "Who's going to watch a sequel to GODZILLA that doesn't have Godzilla?"

As stupid as this sounds, people wrapped up in the world of venture capital often fall prey to the exact same kind of mistake -- paying so much attention to the deal-making behind the scenes, and the concerns motivating it, that they lose sight of simple common sense.

John Battelle's not stupid, not by a long shot, but he is close enough to the silly to seriously ask questions like "Will Google Buy Second Life?" I mean come on, why would anyone even consider that question? How is that question even supposed to be worth asking? I realize people think the bubble has returned, but it would have to return pretty fucking hardcore for that to make any sense at all.

Battelle's answer is no, and his reasons are pretty logical, but the question is so silly from the get-go that you wish instead of going to Davos to get buddy-buddy with the movers and shakers, he'd just gone to Cleveland instead, or Toledo for the love of God, and taken a weekend among mere mortals for the wonderful reality check of boring Midwestern life. I'm sure he's having a great trip, but personally what I want from him is a great blog, and blogging is essentially writing. Hemingway said the key to writing is a powerful bullshit filter. You're more likely to develop that in Cleveland than in Davos.

John Battelle's a very smart man, but he just got booted from my RSS aggregator. Sorry dude.

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