Posts Tagged ‘My Bodyguard.’

In his book Movie Speak, Tony Bill (who directed My Bodyguard) mentions that in his 35 years or so of producing and directing films that almost all of them were either  the first scripts written, or the first script produced by the writer. Bill speculated why that has so often been the case:

“There’s a quality that most first scripts share: fresh, surprising, and unspoiled. Recently, it was Juno. Little Miss Sunshine was a first-time script, as was My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Good Will Hunting, Rocky, Sling Blade, and Taxi Driver were all first scripts. So was My Bodyguard. None of these came out of a how-to-do book or a weekend seminar in screenwriting. First scripts usually come from a need to write something (or, sometimes, a need to eat and pay the rent.) But with rare exceptions, they don’t come out of  a need to score big, to write a hit, to make a splash. And they don’t follow in the footsteps of pervious successes; They’re invariably ‘surprises’ flying in the face of what’s considered commercial. Whatever the genres, they come from the heart.”
Tony Bill (Oscar-winning producer. The Sting)
Movie Speak
page 197 

And I should add that every single movie, except for Little Miss Sunshine (which was really a road movie), that Bill mentioned took place outside Los Angeles. And while Taxi Driver was New York the majority of films he mentioned took place in Chicago, Minnesota, Boston, Philadelphia, Arizona, and rural Arkansas.

Do you think that might have had something to do with the fresh perspective of those films?

Scott W. Smith

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When I was in film school I heard that producer/director Tony Bill was known to provide up and coming people opportunities to get a start in the movie business. He had won an Oscar for producing The Sting, and at this time and had offices in Venice, California. So I gathered some courage and dropped a resume off at the front desk and waited for Mr. Bill to call. 

Never got that call.

I had not yet been told that I needed to add persistence to my resume. (If you want to practice persistence I recommend blogging daily.)  Over the years whenever I have seen Tony Bill’s name on the credits I always remember my timid approach to the film industry.

So yesterday when I saw that Bill has a book out called Movie Speak I bought it. The subtitle of the book is How to Talk Like You Belong on a Film Set. It’s a helpful little book for anybody who wants to work (or does work) on film, TV and video production sets. Some of the code words are common  (C-stand, room tone, C47), some less common (cardellini, butterfly lighting, redhead), and some I had never heard used (seagull, pull the plug, rhubarb).

As I’ve worked on productions around the country it’s funny to hear how each region has even more production words and phrases than are listed in Bill’s book. But Movie Speak is an excellent little book to give you a foundation (or to fill in some holes) that will help you know what’s going on on the set.

And Bill also offers a little insight into the business as well and I’ll share some of these over the next couple days. The first bit of advice is geared for screenwriters in what I’d file under, “I thought you were creative…”;

“I have scant patience with the lament of writers who claim they cannot get someone to read their script. Instead, I’d offer that a clever-enough submission can get anyone to read (or rather start reading) a script… In fact, I’m opinion enough to say that anyone who can’t figure an original, imaginative , and fresh way of submitting a script probably doesn’t have what it takes to write one.”
Tony Bill
Movie Speak
page 124-125 

Hint from personal experience; finding out where Tony Bill’s office is and simply dropping off a resume is not considered imaginative. But I am working on a script that would be perfect for Bill who directed My Bodyguard. Better late than never, right?

If anyone has a success story of how they used a creative way to get a producer to read a script I’d love to hear it. (Especially if it resulted in a deal.)

Scott W. Smith

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