Reader Jason writes:
[My boss] was giving our poor assistant the grueling duty of digitizing boxes and boxes of her old scripts. In the mire, he came across something we all found amusing -– coverage you did back in 1992.
He attaches coverage I wrote for both Quentin Tarantino’s NATURAL BORN KILLERS and Sam Hamm’s PULITZER PRIZE.
I don’t publish reviews of unproduced screenplays (ahem), but I’ll happy share what I wrote about Tarantino’s NBK.
I read it (and wrote this coverage) during my first semester of film school at USC. I probably read 200 scripts that year, but I remember this one distinctly, because upon reaching the last word I promptly flipped back to page one and read it again.
(This was Fall 1992. Little did I know that the following year I’d be working for the movie’s producers during post-production, and would co-write the novelization.)
Next to James Cameron’s ALIENS scriptment, NBK was probably the single screenplay that most made me want to become a screenwriter.
So why the hell did I give it “good” across the board rather than “excellent?”
An acute case of chickenshititis, I suspect. We were strongly discouraged from ever using the “excellent” boxes. Just writing “consider” was a bold move. I’ll cut my younger self a break just this once.
Some extra details about this document, just because I remember:
I’m pretty sure I wrote this for a class assignment, rather than my reader internship. Laura Ziskin taught our first development class. Each week, we checked out two scripts from her extensive script library.1
I wrote this on the Mac, most likely in ClarisWorks. For the cover page, we had a pre-printed template to use. Most readers used a typewriter to do the cover sheets, but with enough finessing, I got the fields in ClarisWorks to line up properly.
This coverage was probably printed on a StyleWriter. Sometime later that year I bought a LaserWriter — an expensive indulgence at the time, but much cheaper through the USC Bookstore. The LaserWriter had a thin and terrible version of Courier, so I used Fontographer to make a chunkier one I called Dorphic, which I continued to use for many years. (Go is printed in Dorphic.)
In my essay on Professional Writing and the Rise of the Amateur, I make a pointed challenge:
So you have to ask yourself: a year from now, five years from now, how am I going to feel when someone asks me about that thing I wrote?
This coverage is eighteen years old, from the pre-internet era. Further proof you don’t get to choose when to be professional.
You can read the full coverage here.
- The idea of “checking out” something seems quaint, but photocopying was fairly expensive. ↩