First Amendment

The script that I wrote for a student director got some attention after their chair praised it. Two more students got in touch with me today to work on their stories. It was good news, because I need as many credits as I can get for my artist visa application.

Then, I was on the phone with them, separately, for a total of three hours… Okay, I know if I were a lawyer, I’d a) never made partner; b) got out of business before I had one.  But, seeing it through the twisted lens of a screenwriter, it was actually not unrewarding.

First off, I see myself in them as a fresh film student taking on a mission impossible.

Then, I realized that these two new ‘potential clients,’ especially the latter, hadn’t thought out her story yet. I told her to speak with as many people as possible to get as many ideas as she could to understand her story better. And most important, what kind of ending she wants, what type of feeling she wants to provoke.

With the other slightly more advanced soon-to-be-client, I told her to transfer more stuff into words instead of sending me ‘mood shots’ because I’m not her cinematographer.

With my current client, she shared with me something revealing. Our story’s ending goes against the #MeToo movement. It seems that all men dig it, and all women hate it so much that they almost started a riot. The instructor pitched my client a sanitized version where the heroine rode the high way in the end.

I saw it coming. Hashtag Feminist Saves the Day.

Here is the thing, what do you call a writer who writes off her characters’ own intentions just because her own political viewpoints are just too fucking important?

What about… tyrant writer?

When you have all the setups towards the ending that shall run its course, but you choose get something else totally out of character because “it feels politically correct.”

  • As the audience, you won’t yell: holy shit, I didn’t see it coming.
  • You’ll be more like: this is total BS. Then throw your TV/laptop/iPad etc. off the window like Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook.  Because that’s how mad you are.  I get it.

If I have one thing to be grateful of my UCLA Film School experience, it is that no instructor tells the students what’s more right to write about according to the current political climate, or what character you should be writing because according the instructor’s monologue, she is lonely and she wants you to create more imaginary friends so they can have tea with her and her 15 cats.

But I’m a pro, so I promised my client to write the ending that would please her instructor. Plus, she would show both to the chair…

I thought in America, there is a thing called First Amendment. And it’s quite a big deal.

Okay, these students are from China. But they paid their tuition in full, not on some sketchy loans.  So treat them accordingly, okay?


Yours truly,