Signs of the apocalypse
17 Jun 2009
My friend is in the process of selling a book & movie deal based on… a Facebook status update.
On Friday, she posted a status update — a cute little anecdote about her dog — and within the hour, she had two film agents approach her, wanting to pitch it as a movie. By the end of the day, she was already getting emails from industry friends all across the country, saying, “I heard you got a movie deal based on a status update!” By Monday, the agents were taking meetings, and my friend was also discussing a series of short books based on the idea. Watch for it to show up in Publisher’s Weekly any day now.
This being Hollywood, it’s still more about buzz than content — nothing has actually sold yet — but considering the amount of chatter around this one status update, I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised if she ended up with a handsome deal.
I find this utterly depressing. Not that I don’t think that the quality of the movie and/or book series will be lacking — knowing my friend’s skills, she’ll knock it out of the park — but it signifies a major problem with the way the entertainment industries works these days. Everything is sold based on a pitch - a one line “hook.” Got a complex idea, that’s hard to summarize in one sentence? Forget it.
My husband and I sometimes walk out of movies and imagine the pitches that were used to sell them. “It’s Wedding Crashers… in Italy!” “Three guys wake up in a room with a chicken, a lion, and a baby” “Two brides are booked in the same room in the same day!” What happens from there doesn’t seem to matter to the companies that fund the movies — as long as it will make a good pitch line and a decent trailer, who cares what goes on in the middle? A catchy premise is more important than the story to come.
The sad truth is that we’re living in a one-line (or 140 character) world these days, and anything that takes longer to explain is often lost in the noise. Being someone who likes to write long, occasionally convoluted, intricately plotted tales, I find this just upsetting. A year after my book came out, I *still* have a hard time summarizing it in one sentence.
That said, I’m honestly happy for my friend — God knows how hard it is to sell anything these days that isn’t based on a comic book series, a sequel, or a children’s toy. All the best to her.
I guess I’ll consider it a reminder to refresh my status updates more often.