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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Need To Know

This is an example of a letter being sent out to WGA members in an information gathering process that has raised some hackles. Names and projects have been redacted.
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Dear XXX,
As you know, we

16 Responses to “Need To Know”

  1. IOIOIOI says:

    Heat; there may be some journalistic merit to posting this letter. Yet… it’s sort of gossipy. I could have sworn that you — David “HEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaattt” Poland — stated you were finished with gossip.
    Sure; this post is just an attempt to type out HEAT in a rather silly way. However… where does the line begin and end for you in terms of gossip? Since I see a letter meant for a certain pair of eyes and when they are not seeing them. It turns into something completely different.
    That aside; 180 films in productions? A 180? No wonder they want to strikes because that level is simply asking for trouble from your union. It’s also creating a glut of shit in the theatres for 24 months to come.

  2. IOIOIOI says:

    If you take the “S” off of “STRIKE” and put it on the end of “UNION.” Everything will make sense. Still… a 180 projects at the current time? Blimey.

  3. T. Holly says:

    This is not gossip, it’s a wake up call.

  4. EDouglas says:

    You just know that one or two of these filled-out forms will leak and that some web site or rumor monger (like Nikke Finke herself) will post them or use the information to try to generate hits.

  5. doug r says:

    1. You are listed as a writer on the film, XXX.
    XXX had writers?

  6. T. Holly says:

    Here’s a prediction for sometime before lunch today:
    Although I think, that in a free and open society, where markets rely on transparency, that the WGA should be able to ask it’s memebership what’s going on, but the producers will jump in, like they did on the Script Authorization Program, and site the confidentiality clause and say it prevents writers from discussing their work, which they will say are secrets owned by the company.
    But on a lighter note, Dave, are you feeling any of the myth about how “ready,” “smart,” and “anticipated” (your terms) those disaster averting buyer/studios are, or can be? Are you feeling 2008 in the pipeline, or Don huffing and puffing ahead of the faux (his term) strike?

  7. Alan Cerny says:

    “XXX had writers?”
    Yes. Indeed, they should not be called writers, but instead, right-ers. Because XXX (or, as it should be called, xXx) is a brilliant, brilliant film.
    I’m only being partially sarcastic, btw.

  8. hendhogan says:

    I don’t know. A couple of those sound like “are you now or have you ever been a writer on project xxx?”

  9. RoyBatty says:

    Have to love that the secretary-treasurer of Hollywood Teamsters Local 399 said while it’s not Teamster policy at the moment to tell its members not to cross the picket lines nevertheless he won’t do it and encourages others to follow suit.
    Meanwhile, Patrick Goldstein gave the studios one HELLUVA BLOWJOB in his column today reducing every writer into a cliche filled stereotype. Can you imagine any semi-intelligent journalist saying that all directors are screaming ego maniacs or all actors are spoiled, unprofessional brats but apparently its an accepted truism that all writers are uncompromising elitists who hold up productions by telling actors what to do, refuse to change one line of dialogue – but thats only if they aren’t three sheets to the wind.

  10. hendhogan says:

    Roy,
    we need you in byob post. noah’s trashing “blade runner”

  11. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    DP I know you love using the word, but ‘redacted’ is not what you’re doing by simply blanking out names and projects.

  12. T. Holly says:

    I posted this in BYOB – Halloween, too:
    No one seems moved by Dave’s “Need to Know” post of a seemingly leaked, official, information gathering, WGA communicae to a member. So, was he possibly played, or is he possibly playing the strike through The Hot Blog?

  13. RoyBatty says:

    Hend – I might post on that, but don’t assume you will like what I have to say. If approached from a WRITER’S point of view, what Scott has done with the director and final cuts of BLADE RUNNER is terrible.
    It is clear in Dick’s novel that only Deckard questions his “human-ness” and Dick was going for the more profound idea that the Replicants were more human than the emotionally dead Deckard. That his budding feelings for Rachael become more darkly ironic when it is revealed that she is also a replicant.
    That said, it’s not like I’m going to throw out my laserdiscs (I have both versions) or three different soundtracks.

  14. T. Holly says:

    Are you standing by the authenticity of this letter?

  15. David Poland says:

    It is 100% legitimate, T Holly… sent by the union to working writers for specific projects.
    I’m not quite sure why this is such drama for you.

  16. T. Holly says:

    An authentic letter sent to one? Perhaps you think my opinion is less than humble, (which it is, is not), you owe it to yourself to run a follow-up as to why you think the AMPTP isn’t having a cow over it, considering they’re tripping all over themselves on the Script Validation Program, claiming company secrets and waving the confidentiality clause-flag in the WGA’s face.

The Hot Blog

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin