January 8, 2007

And You Would Be?...........

Ever done a piece of work you'd rather not take credit for?

Sure you have. Whether it's the home repair you lied about being able to do (switch cover still hanging by one screw, 3 years later? Trimwork still not finished so you move the couch a little to cover it?), the day you just can't make anything balance, the streaks you left on the windows or the proposal that was basically proposing that they get someone else for the project. Everyone has one of those. At least one.

I read an article over the weekend (can't find the link in the Star, sorry) about writers being particularly lousy friends. They are insular by nature, self-focused and miserly with their emotions. Sounds about right. They tend to save it all for the page, which makes relationships with them distinctly one-sided at times, and downright painful if you need more from them than a grammar lesson or a 6-letter word for angst.

It is this intense self-interest, or whatever it is, that creates the dual-edged sword of putting something creative out there for the masses. If your name is on it, everyone knows another little piece of you now. Or at least they think they do.

When I watch a movie, I sit through all the credits. I like seeing who did what, and watching the evolution of careers. And my favourite name to see? Alan Smithee. That's the fictitious name filmmakers throw up when they want to dodge recognition. This article in Slate says many do it to circumvent union rules on how many jobs one person can do on a movie, but it's long been the nom de plume of directors/writers/producers that want to dissociate themselves from a project that turns nasty.

Writers do the same thing, of course. To write outside of their genre, for women to get published when it was difficult if you weren't a man, to sometimes write risky things that might offend their reader base - dozens of reasons, actually. I would like to be prolific enough to require a pen name. I would like to have something to hide from. Ha.

The Smithee thing is most fun because it is virtually always attached to something really, really bad. Check out Alan Smithee's IMDB site - and see how much of his 'work' you've had to sit through.

And you wonder why creative people are so crabby.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Lorraine,

I'm a writer who is pretty good at not being crabby. My wife gets most of the props for this, since she said right from the beginning that she wouldn't ever put up with any "frustrated artiste crap."

Fortunately I've never had any cause to give her any.

Just wanted to mention the lengths some directors will go to get their name taken off a film.

Back in the '80's, a television network was planning to air David Lynch's Dune, including deleted scenes not included in the original release. Apparently they did this without Lynch's approval or knowledge, and he responded by changing his director credit with "Alan Smithee."

In addition to this, he also changed his screenwriter credit to "Judas Booth," after Judas Iscariot and John Wilkes Booth. Two of histories most infamous traitors.



January 08, 2007 11:08 AM  

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