Sunday, March 22, 2009

Script Held Hostage


While I was cursing my printer for malfunctioning it occurred to me how I now take for granted the luxury of having the computer and printer I didn’t have back when I wrote my first screenplay on a typewriter. Yes, a typewriter, and a river of white out.

Typing my script meant I would have to pay someone to transcribe it onto a computer disc. I found a business in Hollywood that offered such a service. The price seemed reasonable and the guys in the print shop seemed nice enough, they were listening to jazz, how bad could they be?

I declined their offer for the consultation and coverage of my script for an additional charge. I simply wanted the script put onto a disc and printed out. Stupidly, I gave them the original. I figured I wouldn’t need it once the script was on disc and I could print til’ my hearts content at any Kinko’s.

Larry answered when I called to check on the job. I could hear Manny in the background yelling maniacally, “it’s not funny! She’s not funny! She’ll never make it in this town.” From the way Larry was trying to cover the phone so I wouldn’t hear Manny’s tirade, I could only assume that Manny was talking about me! I was facing my first rejection in Hollywood and it was from some crack head toothless printer. 

I asked Larry to put Manny on the phone although I don’t really remember why I did that because he was obviously under the influence of some cheap drug. He went on about how many people he knew at the studios and how I should have paid them to consult me on the script because as it was it was nothing, it wasn’t funny and how did I expect to be a writer. Then in a psychotic voice change he started accusing me of being Nikki, a character in my script. “You’re Nikki, aren’t you?” then in a hateful tone, “I know you’re Nikki. Nikki, Nikki, Nikki.” And with that he hung up on me. Where did I go wrong, I thought Nikki was a likeable character?

I called my new neighbor, a big threatening looking guy, and asked if he’d come with me to try and retrieve my disc that Manny had proudly claimed was gone. My neighbor asked if he should bring his gun. I certainly hoped not. I didn’t want to find myself in a situation where a firearm was necessary. When they said it would be hard to make it in Hollywood I certainly didn’t anticipate this. 

We drove into Hollywood to find the front doors of the business locked, blinds drawn closed. I went back the next day. Again the doors were locked. Like a mother Lioness I circled the building, sniffing out a way in to retrieve my baby, but it was clear I needed help, so I called the Hollywood police. Thank God I didn’t really urgently need them because after an hour and two propositions of waiting on a street corner, a car finally showed up. Granted the cops have more pressing things to do but this was a hostage situation. These guys were holed up in that store with my script and the disc that I’d left a deposit for.

The Officer called the print shop from the next door business while I waited outside. I’m sure this cop has seen a lot in her day so when she came back from that phone call looking bewildered I didn’t know what to think. She didn’t go into detail but confirmed they were high on something. But she seemed distant. Did they tell her Nikki was a whiny bitch? Did they tell her my act two was weak and the climax in the third act was a let down? Did she believe them? She left abruptly from the crime scene as if she were disappointed in my script, that if it had been more compelling maybe she would have broken down the doors to retrieve the disc for me and for Hollywood. She told me to come back another day when Larry and Manny were off the drugs.

I went home and typed up a new second act. A few days later I went into the print shop. The familiar jazz was playing and I found myself in a face to face stand off with Larry at the counter, only now there was a vacant stare in his eye. It became clear that he didn’t remember anything that happened. When I gave him clues of what had transpired he seemed genuinely embarrassed. I got my disc and refused to pay the balance due to the emotional distress they had inflicted upon me. As grateful as I was to get the disc back, I think I was even more grateful that they probably forgot how much they disliked my writing.


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