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12/11/2001 - MY DOG MOVIE
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MY DOG MOVIE

My Fellow Writers,


I just got a call today that a script I did a page one rewrite on last year was in production. You might think that's a good reason to celebrate. You'd be right, in some ways. But consider this: I was only paid a few thousand dollars to write it; I'm completely uncredited; and I will see no further money from it.

Now, it's not going to hurt my career to not get credit for this movie. It's a family cable movie. My friends are probably amazed that I could actually complete a page without using profanity. It was really fucking hard, I'll tell you that.

In any case, it's a good feeling. Here's why: that script was in terrible shape when I got it. Horrible. It barely had any structure or characters; it was repetitive; the dialogue was moronic; the action was silly; the budget was out-of-control: it was an amateurish effort.

In six days, I wrote 90 pages from scratch - based on the original concept of the first script. It was my fastest effort up to that time. And the executive and the producer both actually said "this is a great script." I actually disagreed with them, since I didn't think the genre - um, let's call it the "dog movie" genre - really had any "great" scripts. Don't write in with votes for LASSIE, BENJI, MY DOG SKIP, or THOSE AMAZING DOBERMANS: there were some entertaining moments there, but I'm not sure that any of them could be called great scripts. (That being said, I cried my 8-year-old eyes out when I saw WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS and OLD YELLER.)

So there's the sense of achievement. There's also the sense that I've helped to employ a hundred people. Sure, they're in a foreign country (which is why I get no credit), but they have kids to feed, too. Also, the movie is sweet, so kids will enjoy it. Either that, or it'll give them an incurable fear of dogs. Hope not, though.

Finally, if my multiple anti-cat jokes make it through the final edit, I'll be very pleased.

In any case, the phone call reminded me of the glory days of being on deadline. Wow. Did I really do that? Then I thought back over the past couple of weeks and noticed that, writing on spec, I've sometimes found myself having trouble finishing a scene a day!

Once that hit me, it was clear what needed to be done: I need to hire someone to come over and kick my ass if I don't finish a script by the end of the year.

After that improbable thought passed, I figured it might just be better to set down a deadline, and stick to it. Simple as that. Right? Right?

Maybe I should just hire the ass-kicking guy.

Needing a beating,

Grady

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