Monday, December 31, 2012

"Another Way Of Making Yourself Miserable"

The doorbell rings.  I go downstairs and am met by a pretty UPS Delivery Woman.  She has a “screener” (complimentary DVD) for me, and I have to sign for it.

I recognize the UPS Delivery Woman, as she had also brought me (because I’m a member of the Writers’ Guild) the “screeners” prior to last year’s Awards Season.  You always had to sign for them; that’s how I knew the UPS Delivery Woman was pretty.  If you were not required to sign for them, I would never have seen her.

This story is not about the pretty UPS Delivery Woman.  Although in my fantasy…well, we’ll leave that alone.

A lonely old writer…

Stop it!  Imagine what they’ll think of you!

You’re right.  Sorry.

This story is, however, the most recent addition to my seemingly endless list of ways of making yourself miserable.  And it’s not even about me.  That’s how sensitive I am. 

I am so plugged in to the “making yourself miserable” process, I find myself attuned to ways for complete strangers to make themselves miserable…in situations where mentally healthy people would be feeling buoyantly happy. 

This is the elite form of for “making yourself miserable”:  a situation which, objectively, should fill you with exultation and delight but, instead, it does exactly the opposite.  Here’s how it works.

WARNING:  This should not be tried by amateurs.  You could easily put your eye out.

Okay, let’s start with this, (which for those of you scoring at home is the origin of this post.)  For the first time since “screeners” have been sent out, this year, I have received a number of them directly through the mail, mixed in with the catalogues, bills and solicitations for charitable donations to help cure diseases I am almost certain to someday come down with. 

Before this year, all the “screeners” were delivered via UPS, and – further signifying their importance – they all had to be signed for.

What my mind immediately gloms onto to is the fact that, for the first time, this year, we have a distinct hierarchy of “Screener Delivery Systems” – “screeners” a regular Postal Employee stuffs into your mailbox, and “screeners” brought directly to your door that you have to sign for.

This two-tiered arrangement sets the whole ball of grievance, bile and resentment rolling in my twisted little brain.  (In this case, second-hand grievance, bile and resentment, as, having fallen below the minimum requirement of Writing Award Season inclusion – that being, you have to have written something – I am feeling that grievance, bile and resentment, not for myself who will be nominated for nothing, but on behalf of others.)

To me, the newly instituted dual method of “screener” delivery suggests a delineable “pecking order”, wherein those of more elevated status (and/or perceived commercial value) receive demonstrably loftier treatment. 

This is hardly paranoia.  The evidence is staring you in the face.  You just have to be crazy enough to notice it.  Or care.

Top-Of-The-Line Treatment:  a DVD embedded in a graphically-designed cardboard case, accompanied by a script printed on high gloss paper and including multiple pages of colorful photography, delivered by hand and you have to sign for it. 

This is how I recently received Judd Apatow’s This Is Forty, Apatow, through his numerous box-office successes, ranking at the top of the moviemaker “A-List”, even if they didn’t go alphabetically.  (“Apatow”, get it?  God!  If you have to explain them…)

Big shots get the big shottiest treatment.  And it goes downhill from there:

Script and DVD.  But it came in the mail. 

Screenplay in the mail only.  (No DVD.) 

DVD in the mail only. (No screenplay.) 

DVD in the mail only, embedded not in graphically-designed cardboard case, but slipped into a flimsy paper envelope. (How very sad.)

And down we continue to go:

Paper Options – varying from scripts printed on expensive glossy paper to scripts duplicated on Xerox-paper to mini-scripts duplicated on only half sheets of Xerox-paper to scripts typed on recycled grocery bags.  Funky, but cheap.

Movie Options:

- A standard DVD. 

-  A “zip drive” version that you can slip in and watch on your computer. 

- A letter that comes in the mail informing you of a “link” where you can access the movie and watch it on your computer. 

- An announcement of a “link” where you can access the movie that arrives via e-mail, nestled between a sales pitch from Fandango and an “Urgent Message From the National Rifle Association.

And, arguably the lowest rung of all (excluding not sending out anything): 

A link to not the movie but the screenplay of the movie that you can read on your computer.  They did not even spring for paper.  Not even the “recycled grocery bag” kind.

I mean, just look at the disparity!  I defy anyone to absorb such transparent personal insults and still say, “How nice; they’re promoting my movie for an award.”  From DVD plus a screenplay printed on expensive glossy paper including multiple pages of color photography to a link you can click on to access a screenplay you can read on your computer.  (Or print up, if you are willing to expend a hundred-and-twenty or so sheets of your own paper.)

“It’s outrageous!”, I protest on behalf of others.

There are also screenings you can go where you can watch the movie in a theater.  Since I have rarely attended one, I cannot attest to the varying classiness of the venues. But if the preceding spread is any indication, there’ll be venues in Beverly Hills, escalating down to theaters in neighborhoods one would be loath to venture into without packing heat.

All of this has nothing to do with the quality of the film; the “sliding-scale” awards push is a reflection of how much faith the studio has in it commercially.  Though even more so, it reflects the requirement on the part of the studio to shell out some noticeable bucks to assuage the “auspices”, so they’ll be willing to work with them again. 

A studio sends Judd Apatow’s latest effort out on a “zip” drive encased in a single sheet of “Printer Paper” with the words “FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION” typed on it, or makes it available via a “link” you receive on your e-mail, nestled between a Navajo jewelry ad and an “Urgent Message From Barbara Boxer”…

And Old Judd A. is makin’ his hit movies somewhere else.

1 comment:

Mac said...

I get WGA screeners too. This year I got two actual DVD's, 3 scripts, one invitation to download, two invitations to watch movies in cities I don't live in, plus emails saying "If you haven't received your screeners yet, please let us know..." I did, and that's the last I heard from them. I just know Katherine Bigelow did better than me this year.

Anyway, have a Happy New Year - all the best for 2013. If that's not too positive :)