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Posts Tagged ‘the Sting’

A popular quote attributed to composer & musican Scott Joplin is, “When I’m dead twenty-five years, people are going to begin to recognize me.” And here we are almost 100 years after his death still talking about “The King of Ragtime” and playing his music.

I thought of Joplin yesterday when I drove by the Scott Joplin House in St. Louis where he lived for part of his life. It actually took more than 25 years for Joplin to be properly recognized. But it happened.

Part of the rediscovery of Joplin was the recordings by Joshua Rifkin and the movie The Sting in the early 1970s which featured Joplin’s The Entertainer.  In 1976 he was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize, 59 years after he died.

So you can make a name for yourself while you’re alive, but sometimes it takes a little while for your talent to be fully recognized. But blaze away on your vision that may put you a little out of step with the times.

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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