What not to tweet if you’re a Hollywood screenwriter

In my return to this blog (having finally confronted the real reason for leaving in the first place), I want to return to the subject that interests me the most – screenwriting; not a noble profession in any way, but a source of entertainment and enlightenment nonetheless. Being a screenwriter gives a person the ability to write the script for – if you’re Alex Chandon or Paul ShrimptonInbred; if you’re Steve KlovesHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2; and if you’re Max LandisVictor Frankenstein. The art of storytelling has become a commercial industry, and consequently, those that manage to establish themselves as a part of that profession earn themselves a position of admiration and respect from those that want to follow in their footsteps. Public image is now more important for screenwriters than ever before, with the paid job now being increasingly less hidden from the public.

Which brings us back to Landis: writer of ChronicleAmerican UltraVictor FrankensteinMe him Her and Mr. Right, and the first screenwriter trying to establish themself online without also being a director, producer or actor. Recently, the marketing campaign behind films based on Landis’ screenplays have been exclusively on Landis’ Twitter feed (unprofessionally named @Uptomyknees), which is where the majority of information Landis chooses to share about screenwriting can be found.

So engaging in political debate about the public vote in another sovereign state in another continent without really understanding the important details is definitely a bad move.

About an hour after BBC News revealed that the majority of votes in the United Kingdom’s European Union membership referendum had been cast in favour of Leave, Landis had this to say:

https://twitter.com/Uptomyknees/status/746219616209272832

The inaccuracies in this tweet are difficult to overstate. Firstly, Landis refers to “England” as a synechdoche for the United Kingdom, despite England being only one of the four constituent countries within that union. While the majority of England residents voted Leave, the majority of Scotland and Northern Ireland residents voted remain. England’s decision was only matched by Wales. So either Landis is focusing on England’s majority but ignoring that same majority in Wales, or is just making unresearched assumptions about the political structure of a sovereign state comprised of four constituent countries, in the same way as assuming Alaska speaks for all America. Thus, it stands to reason that, if a person doesn’t understand the political structure of a sovereign state, that person probably shouldn’t judge the decisions that sovereign state’s majority makes – especially when that political structure is a factor in that decision, which was the case here: Scotland’s majority voted to Remain in the hopes of a further referendum leading to Scotland as an independent state that remains a European Union member. Not understanding that complex issue disqualifies anyone from condemning a political choice made in a sovereign state they don’t fully understand. And Landis definitely doesn’t understand the United Kingdom, as this next tweet shows:

https://twitter.com/Uptomyknees/status/746351413349912576

Since 2010, the British Prime Minister has been David Cameron, Leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party. In the referendum campaign, Cameron supported Britain Stronger in Europe, as did Damian Green, Conservative MP for Ashford. However, Vote Leave was supported by: Michael Gove, Conservative MP for Surrey Heath; Steve Baker, Conservative MP for Wycombe; Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative MP for Chingford and Woodford Green; Liam Fox, Conservative MP for North Somerset, Chris Grayling, Conservative MP for Epsom and Ewell; Boris Johnson, Conservative MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip; Andrea Leadsom, Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire; Priti Patel, Conservative MP for Witham; Theresa Villiers, Conservative MP for Chipping Barnet; John Wittingdale, Conservative MP for Maldon; Bernard Jenkin, Conservative MP for Harwich and North Essex; Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Conservative MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed and Owen Patterson, Conservative MP for North Shropshire. Noticing a pattern yet? Cameron’s own party was so divided over the matter, that Cameron had already announced the intention to resign were Leave to be the majority. Cameron ultimately announcing his resignation on BBC News wasn’t really news to anyone in the United Kingdom. The expectation was, that had Remain been the majority, the Conservative MPs supporting Leave would’ve been replaced, so Cameron’s resignation with a Leave majority makes perfect sense – because he himself needs replacing. Cameron claimed that the United Kingdom needs strong leadership during this transitional period – the only reason the referendum happened is because there wasn’t a majority in the House of Commons. Which means, Cameron needed to gauge public opinion and act based on that. Therefore, Cameron’s resignation following a Leave majority was a known condition from the beginning. United Kingdom residents would know this, because we’ve been following it. Therefore, to claim that Cameron resigned because the majority disagreed with him is making assumptions about the outcome without being aware of the context (which United Kingdom residents were). The British people voted with the knowledge that one of the two outcomes would result in Cameron’s resignation – something which has escaped Landis’ attention. Plus, one of Cameron’s main policies as Prime Minister was to preserve the United Kingdom, and opposed independence or British republicanism. But failing to persuade the majority of voters to support leave also triggered another Scottish independence referendum and the possible reunion of Ireland as a single state. As a result of the Brexit, many commentators have already been calling Cameron one of the United Kingdom’s least successful Prime Minsters. Cameron’s resignation wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision, but Landis isn’t aware of that.

Secondly: another thing this statement ignores is the resignation of Alex Salmond as Scotland’s First Minister. Salmond’s campaign was lead by the intention to hold a referendum on Scotland’s membership of the United Kingdom – when the majority voted Remain, there was no point in Salmond continuing as Scottish First Minister. Cameron’s resignation as Prime Minister is the equivalent of that. When Ed Milliband wasn’t voted Prime Minister in the latest General Election, Milliband resigned as Labour Leader. When Nick Clegg wasn’t voted Prime Minister, Clegg resigned as Liberal Democrat Leader. When Nigel Farage wasn’t voted Prime Minister, Farage resigned as Independence Leader. Political figures resigning a post because they lost a vote isn’t uncommon, at least not in the United Kingdom. Had Cameron not resigned, there’d have been a backlash against Cameron remaining despite the referendum showing that the majority were against him. Need I remind Landis of the only American President to resign, Richard M. Nixon?

Thirdly – and this is by far the worst – Landis refers to the Prime Minister as “‘president'”. Now, the reason for this isn’t entirely clear, but none of them are good. Were Landis implying that the United Kingdom is a smaller offshoot of the United States, that’s just a perpetration of a foreign policy between the two governments that not everyone supports. Another possibility is that “‘president'” is to say “That is, Britain’s equivalent of America’s president”. But there’s already a term for that: Prime Minister. It’s not just the United Kingdom that has one. To say Landis is a writer, Landis doesn’t seem to have the best words (not unlike you-know-who). In actuality, putting a word in quote marks (“/”) implies that, while the subject is officially called that, the writer doesn’t think that it is in practice. What Landis is basically saying is, “He’s not really the British President”. Yeah, no shit.

And then there’s this, which Landis felt compelled to retweet:

This is something else which is infuriating. What Landis has done is see one extract of one British news programme from a channel that he otherwise wouldn’t have seen, and has used that to justify all his previous misfounded assumptions. As though Landis thought, “Well, it’s on the news, so it validates what I think”. What Landis didn’t see was… anything else. Any other news programme from other broadcasters interviewing different people about different angles. Landis isn’t even a British citizen, but feels inclined to claim British media to reinforce his own cultural ignorance. Like how Fox News only represents some of America, not all of it. Storytellers are supposed to understand people, but how Landis has managed to be successful in this industry is something I can’t understand about him.

Bastard.

Deeper/Bright

Deadline is reporting that representatives of Mr. Right screenwriter Max Landis are circulating a screenplay titled Deeper. Deadline originally reported word of the screenplay being written on 12th November, initially reporting that it’s to be produced by Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice screenwriter David S. Goyer‘s production company. In Deeper, a former astronaut is dispatched to an oceanic trench, the lowest point currently discovered on the surface of the Earth. Once inside the trench, the astronaut finds himself psychologically and physically fighting mysterious forces. But the article dated 30th March 2016 reports that preproduction has now begun, after at least ten million dollars was offered by Goyer. Production reportedly begins next year. On the Screenwriting subreddit, Landis confirmed that Deeper‘s screenplay isn’t being currently made available to read online.

This all comes twelve days after Deadline also reported that Landis had sold a screenplay titled Bright, which was purchsed by Netflix for $3M, one of the highest payments given for a screenplay written on speculation of sale. Bright reportedly is being given the budget of the Men in Black films, and is expected to launch a franchise, despite its expected R rating. Netflix’s $3M was the successful bidder over PalmStar, who reportedly offered $4M. Landis is to share producing credit. Suicide Squad‘s David Ayer is attached to direct. A 2nd March Variety article reports that Bright was inspired by Ayer’s own End of Watch, but set in a world where orcs and fairies live among Humans. The article also reports that Bright won’t be set in the present day. Landis also confirmed on Twitter that Ayer’s rewriting the Bright screenplay:

https://twitter.com/Uptomyknees/status/696779642871545857?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

The Bright screenplay is 105 pages long and is currently available to read.

Deeper‘s premise sounds similar to a film Landis pitched on The Schmoes Know Movies Show, which Landis described as not being possible to make or market. If you haven’t watched this pitch, it’s fantastic. Unfortunately, there’s no way for tell you why without ruining the ending:

Landis is represented by Writ Large. Bright‘s sale was represented by William Morris Endeavour.

Why screenwriters shouldn’t be “famous”

The idea that screenwriters should be as “famous” as director implies that screenwriters are involved with the production process; they’re not, and as a result, don’t collaborate with those that are – and collaboration is what makes the success of a film. Audiences watch films, but the film and the screenplay aren’t synonymous, which is why most people have little interest in reading the screenplays to the films they watch. A badly-made film is a badly-made film, but screenwriters aren’t film-makers, and therefore shouldn’t be factored-into the quality of a film and how it was made. Especially because the screenplay will be rewritten based on notes and feedback from executive producers, as well as budget lines and what’s practical during the shoot – these are all aspects that aren’t known to the public due to their irrelevance during the film-watching process, so judging a screenwriter based on a film is ignorance of these details that are the important difference between what’s on the page and what’s on screen.

It’s easy to judge cinematographers because cinematography is an aspects the audience do see on screen when they see a film, but they’re not looking at what the screenwriter wrote, but will judge the screenwriter in much the same way that they’d judge the cinematographer. Which is why screenwriters also shouldn’t be praised in the same way. And if a screenwriter does have consistent success, that’s luck, especially because each screenplay’s likely to be adapted by different directors. Even Woody Allen, who’s won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay more times than anyone else, wrote the screenplay to Manhattan, which grossed $126.047M, but also wrote the screenplay to September, which grossed only $000.985M; equally, Allen wrote the screenplay to Husbands and WivesBroadway Danny RoseZeligLove and Death and Sleeper, which are all rated 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, but also wrote the screenplay to Company Man, which is only rated 14%.

Then there’s Charlie Kaufman, who’s written three screenplays included on the Writers Guild of America’s list of the greatest ever, also wrote the screenplay to Human Nature, which is rated 49%. But Kaufman was still able to write Anamolisa, not because Paramount Pictures were foolish, but because they’re film industrialists, and therefore understand not to judge a screenwriter by films, but by screenplays. That’s what a screenwriter controls, and it’s all the screenwriter controls, so it’s all that’s considered to matter. The screenwriter doesn’t make the film, but they’re the ones that put the words on the page.

What the screenwriter does is present a film that could be but isn’t yet. Some screenwriters are also directors, but any success is accredited to their status as a director, being a screenwriter becomes incidental at that point. Screenwriters shouldn’t be famous because a good screenwriter just wants to be able to write screenplays. And anyone who wants to be a screenwriter to be a famous writer should just become a novelist instead.

And once any potential screenwriters understand this, those potential screenwriters can know whether they’re in it for the fame, or for the art. And as soon as a screenwriter does try to become famous for screenwriting alone, that leads to all sorts of problems. And Max Landis does these things to teach you not to do the same:

(Video) Star Wars Controvery [sic] Epilogue – Stakes, Conflict Free Characters, and a Question

So, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency writer Max Landis shows up again. God, this guy gets everywhere. In case you’re not familiar with the context, let me clear things up: Landis accused Rey from Star Wars: Episode VII – the Force Awakens (by J. J. AbramsLawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt) of being a character without any weaknesses or stakes, and was accused of misogyny.  Because that’s what happens when anyone makes any comment about any female character.

And in this video, he finally snaps. It’s not even funny, just… scary. I went to college with a guy like this. He, too, resembled a bi-curious douche bag.

(Video) quick tip – describing female characters – how not to do it

This is Max Landis, writer of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. People have mentioned him on the Internet. I sometimes post links to the stuff he does. And people give him a lot of crap.

Quite frankly, I see someone trying to good things and sometimes makes his own suggestions. But this is a video that every screenwriter should watch. It’s about how to not describe female characters. And he’s right.

Screen writing is an economy. One page is a minute of screen time. And on that page, the screenwriter should describe the controllable variables of a scene. Describing a character as “attractive” is meaningless because that’s subjective to the audience, so it’s something the screenwriter can’t control.

Screenwriters who do this: please stop.

(link) #spidermanthemusical

This is incredible. As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been keeping close tabs on Mr. Right‘s Max Landis recently. Think of it as professional curiosity. Anyway, he recently tweeted some screenshots of a fan script he wrote for a Spider-Man musical. My god, this is perfect.

https://twitter.com/Uptomyknees/status/681035582013755393

(Video) MARY SUE SEXIST MAX LANDIS ON A RANT AGAIN HIS FORCE AWOKE

You may recall that some time ago I shared a video of Mr. Right‘s Max Landis explaining why Daisy Ridley’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens  (J. J. AbramsLawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt) didn’t work. Well now, he’s responding to the response. And if you couldn’t handle this guy before, get ready, cause things are about to get… weird: