Oliver Peters of DV and Videography turned me on to this amusing blog. Screenwriting from Iowa is kind of the Ulysses of blogs. It takes a bit of time to get through the posts, but it’s often worth it.
Smith’s most recent post on infomercials and gurus hit remarkably close to home.
Infomercials never touch on how hard it is to make money because infomercials work emotionally on how easy things are to do. They skip showing the scenes of Rocky running up the stairs and pounding the beef. Instead they pound the testimonials of how much money people say they have made until you hear what you want to hear. The executive producer where I worked was fond of saying, “There is no such thing as over-the-top in infomercials.”
And he goes on to make the link between a successful infomercial and a guru.
Basically [infomercials] touch on our deepest longings in life to look good, feel healthy, and have money. You want to believe the infomercials, that’s why they work.
Here’s the problem as it applies to screenwriting seminars. We want to believe they will give us the missing link and make us a better writer. Many writers are like crack addicts thinking the next book, workshop, audio series, writing software will make them a better writer. Just one more hit off the pipe and we’ll quit.
There are no “missing links.” It’s hard work, a tireless drive to the goal that will get the aspiring screenwriter, videographer, or editor where s/he wants to go. The Red camera’s not going to get your feature into distribution, a big monitor and Color won’t make you a sought after colorist. I’m not above looking for the short cut — whether it’s the $199 plug-in to solve a motion graphics challenge, or the $60,000 degree to get me hired into senior management.
The trick isn’t avoiding those tools. It’s just not expecting too much from them. That new plug-in still requires you to RTFM, and that degree needs to be backed up with experience. Just as you have to spend a day or two with a new plug-in, be prepared to invest years honing the skills you’ll pick up in a workshop or a degree program. That’s OK because it’s about the journey since so few of us know the destination.
And be wary of those gurus and pundits who spend more time talking than doing. If we had the answers we’d be too busy making money to share them.