This entry was written on Friday, July 16, 2004.
Well, those Pringles were a disappointment. Definitely not worth the calories. My friend’s coming over for a quick lunch today, so after dropping my son off for the bus at 8 a.m. (with lunch this time), I went shopping at Whole Foods while it was still totally empty. I was planning on throwing together a quick caprese salad of tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella. But it would’ve been helpful to remember to actually buy the fresh mozzarella, so it looks like I’ll be heading back to the store before noon. Wonder what else I forgot? Like I said, I’m not a morning person.
I finally got hold of Cliff. (See yesterday’s entry.) The movie we’re dealing with is a tough one, as the protagonist is not an especially sympathetic character, and it’s rare that you sell a movie from a downer perspective. On top of that, the studio wants these spots to have a very non-advertising feel. Neither one of us are sure how to do that. I often wind up with challenging movies or am given the task of trying to appeal to a segment of the audience that has no interest in the particular genre—getting, say, women over 30 to see a hard-core action film starring the Rock (or, in the not so distant past, Arnold, the Governator). I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been doing this for so long or if they come to me when they’ve already worn out their own staff writers. But once in a while, I luck out and get a movie that’s a sheer pleasure for me—like About a Boy, the Hugh Grant movie. Those spots practically wrote themselves.
I guess I should explain what I mean by “spots.” A campaign for a movie basically consists of a trailer, which in the theater is known as a preview; commercials for TV; and a poster—all of which I work on. (Incidentally, they’re called trailers because years ago, they would follow the movie instead of precede it.) My role in the process is to write what the narrator says. Sometimes I work on “teasers,” (shorter trailers, sometimes shown far in advance of the film) which often appear in theaters before the feature is finished. These are typically for major movies with big directors or stars, so studios want to get the buzz going as early as possible. For those jobs, I have to come up with the whole enchilada: the visuals as well as the narration. Some clients don’t like teasers or trailers that have no actual feature footage, as they feel audiences are suspicious that you’re hiding the movie. Sometimes, they’re right.
One thing I’ve come to realize about working as a freelancer is that I rarely find out what happens to my work. Once I deliver the job, it’s unusual to hear from anyone, unless they want me to make changes or explore a new direction. They’re busy and may not even remember who wrote what by the time the job “goes to finish.” As a freelancer, I’m also limited in the films I get to work on. Studios will not part with some of their high-profile films, so writers have to go to the lot to see the movie, which is rather inconvenient for me, as it’s a 2,500 mile drive.
So why am I in D.C.? It’s a question I asked myself, too, as the first few years here were a major culture shock, though I’ve grown quite fond of the place, present administration excepted. It’s because of a high-school reunion I went to 14 years ago. (And I’m not saying which number it was.) I ran into an old friend of mine who lived in D.C. A year and a half later, I married him, but not before losing the toss on where to live. My husband’s a lawyer, and I had this suspicion that if he moved, he’d rather take up surfing than studying for the California bar. And who could blame him? But I was homesick. My first year here, I made eight trips to L.A. The guys at my favorite Mexican joint, Pocito Mas, didn’t even realize I had moved.
Nowadays, I make a pilgrimage to L.A. at least twice a year to see clients, friends, and of course, to eat Mexican food (not necessarily in that order). I also check up on my house in the Hollywood Hills, not far from the Hollywood sign. It’s a little gem with a fabulous city view. I moved out during the spring of 1992 in the midst of the Rodney King riots, a bad time to sell a house, although there was a great view of the fires burning throughout the city.
By the way, the fires are out now, and my tenants just moved, so it’s available.