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Well, that kind of backfired...

By AmandaM | June 01, 2011


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Confession: Sometimes, I watch really bad movies to make myself feel better about my own writing. It’s an awful, shameful habit that sadly serves as a temporary self-esteem boost until I have my next bad writing day. The idea of that is, even on my most unproductive, self-loathing day I can confidently remind myself that I didn’t write BIG MAMA’S HOUSE or that I won’t ever have to answer for the hot mess I KNOW WHO KILLED ME turned out to be.

I took a huge, comfort zone smashing step today with my screenwriting which should have been freeing and celebratory but it ultimately caused me to pick apart and dissect my talents and overall worthiness. I figured I’d need a really bad film—a true doozy— to pull me out of this spiral so I went IMDB’s Bottom 100 movies and picked the first movie I could instantly stream on Netflix or watch on Youtube. That landed me in the lap of BEN & ARTHUR.

To be honest, I’ve actually come by this title before. I occasionally browse the Bottom 100 list just to see if it changes up when a new box office bomb is rushed onto DVD about 3 months earlier than it’s planned for and that title’s been there for a while. I would give a synopsis of it but the film doesn’t know or just doesn’t care what it is or what it’s about so I really don’t either. This is what I did gather, however: It’s a badly acted gay film that wants to be a romance but runs into every other film genre ever along the way and decides to have shameless, drunken sex with all of them. There’s more creativity, thought, plot, and structure put into the DVD cover.

In anycase, for the first 20 minutes, the movie did exactly what it was supposed to do. I was laughing at the atrocious dialogue, flat characters, and vanishing plot set ups, thanking God none of it had come from me. I even started researching Sam Mraovich; he’s the writer, director, producer, composer, editor, and mastermind of this film. He’s a serious Hollywood screenwriter with several other short films and projects in the works who truly thinks he deserves to be nominated for membership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts (he says so on his website).

But then at some point I started (over)thinking: What if I’m this guy? What if I’ve been delusionally writing versions of BEN & ARTHUR all this time, thinking I’m churning out something with potential?! Maybe this is actually my atrocious dialogue, my flat characters, MY vanishing plot set ups! I tried to unjam my panic button by opening one of my own screenplays and reading from it but that only made things monumentally worse. Suddenly, every line sounded like it had come from a Mraovich film. My action lines have always been clunky and ungraceful so I rarely read over them but I’ve at least been able to scan them in the past! And all my lines of dialogue played in my head as dispassionately droned out nonsense being delivered in front of a 200 dollar Sony Handycam.

I FREAKED but for some reason, kept watching. I was invested. I kind of had to be. I could be seeing the true version of my very own talents!

I think I became a “former writer” for the remaining hour of that movie. It was pretty scary.

I’m slowly recovering now. I need a palette cleanser before the night is up, though—FIGHT CLUB, KISS KISS BANG BANG, or PULP FICTION usually does the trick.

I should probably rethink this method of self-esteem boosting. It’s starting to feel dangerously counter-productive.


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