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Conversations with a Hollywood Survivor.



Utter the word “Hollywood” and you’re likely to get a litany of reactions. For most people Hollywood is the mecca where dreams, movies, human entities and death defying possibilities exist. Of course utter the very same word to the insiders that perpetuate those dreams, dramas and celluloid fantasies they are likely to cringe. Cringe because they had to survive it. The following is a taped conversation between a couple of fellows deeply ingrained in the industry. For their security and reputation’s sake we have decided not to disclose their real names but their profession vulgar and ripe.

Our two Hollywood insiders include a – an award winning screenwriter and director who shall rename nameless but for the sake of this article will go by the name Jimmy. Our other Hollywood insider is a producer/talent management agent and we can attest he has represented some of the biggest names in the industry, but he too will go nameless except for the name of Bill.

SCV: What do you think most people think of when the word Hollywood is conjured up?

Jimmy: Larger than life.

Bill: Escapist. Action heroes and leggy blondes.

Jimmy: The American dream, palm lined streets, beautiful people and the river of possibilities.

Bill: At least that’s what I thought when I was growing up…

SCV: Listening to the both of you the implied suggestion is in fact it’s anything but the American dream?

Bill: It’s not. You want to know what Hollywood really is all about? It’s about America Inc. It’s a business machine, it’s like any industry out there, like the automobile industry and frankly there isn’t anything too glamorous about corporate America, even if that’s the way it’s pitched. When you get down to it the inner workings are dirty, greasy and disgusting.

Jimmy: You walk down Hollywood Boulevarde you wont see one actor. You know what you’ll see instead? You’ll see pimps, drug addicts, junkies, filth and a bunch of hookers.

SCV: One gets the sense that this is a metaphor for what Hollywood is really all about.

Bill: Well that’s actually what it really boils down too. It’s a sewer of broken down people, of broken down dreams and …

Jimmy: I think I read somewhere each month at least 3000 actors come to Hollywood trying to make it and at the end of each month there nearly as many actors leaving the city as well.

Bill: Yeah, I read somewhere only 4% of actors actually make more than $40 000 a year. I mean that’s not really saying much.

Jimmy: And when it comes to opening films, there are probably only 10 women out there who can carry a film.

Bill: And it’s getting smaller…

SCV: Why is it getting smaller?

Jimmy: It used to go counter clock wise. When the economy was in a stink people would rush for their dose of escapism. But now with the internet, free down loads who needs movie theatre? The whole industry is in retreat. The appetite to make big features has gone way down.

Bill: In the past Hollywood was run by the mafia, goons and gangs, and there was this laisser faire attitude. Now it’s run by big production companies all owned by multi nationals. Think about it. Universal is owned by GE, the company that makes turbo chargers, electric turbines and bombs.

Jimmy: It’s all run by MBAs who never got their cock sucked when they were growing up. The creatives are gone, it’s strictly a number games. All you’re thinking before you make a film how much is this going to cost, how much revenue can we expect if we use this or that actress, so in the end it becomes assembly production stuff.

SCV: It all suggests that a kind of generic film can only be made, but surely the public still has an appetite for clever creative films, the indies etc.

Bill: Sure the public may have an appetite for it but if you keep feeding it bunk that’s what they’ll start getting used to and craving.

SCV: It doesn’t say much for the public.

Jimmy: They don’t stand a chance. Look these Hollywood MBA types all they’re thinking of is what a 13 year old boy likely to see and what’s a woman going to want to see. They have all these research market groups, it’s all figured out, x equals y.

SCV: Last time I checked 13 year old boys liked car chases, skimpy girls and some guy shooting the bejesus out of some bad guy. Tell me is the movie industry heading the way of the record industry?

Bill: I think it’s interesting in the sense that the movie industry has paid a lot of attention to what happened to the record industry, and for a while they were safe cause you couldn’t get enough bandwidth to download their movies and of course that all changed with Hulu, free downloading and everyone leaving Tivo and all those lost ad dollars. Although I hear you can have to start paying subscription fees there soon. It was a mess, there have been so many lay offs, and when the writers strike came and the production houses got their way and now they’re all these unemployed writers sucking dick in motel rooms to make their rent.

Jimmy: It’s true, 10 years ago you could make a lot of money as a screenwriter. I remember getting paid $350 000 for 8 weeks worth of work, now days it’s 15 % on spec of a spec, and everyone trying to get all the work for free.