Martin has had success as a screenwriter working with a major comedian-star to write and punch up projects the comedian-star has in development at a number of studios and networks across town. He's learned firsthand about the business through pitch meetings, agent get-togethers, and social gatherings with his star connection.
192 CREATIVE CAREERS IN HOLLYWOOD
Are there any films that influenced your decision to be a screenwriter?
My favorite movie is The Godfather. I always wanted to be Michael Corleone; however, my family is neither Italian nor in the mob, so I had to just fake it. L.A.'s the only place where that type of behavior is not only acceptable but encouraged.
Do you write for audiences or for yourself?
Well — I think that oftentimes predicting what audiences will like is the job of the studio executives. I've had the chance to work with some execs (as a lowly assistant, not as a writer), and on several occasions, I've questioned decisions that they've made and then watched as the movies they were making, while not very good, still made piles of money. I'm not sure that that's a skill that I have. I usually write for a combination of myself and the intended audience. There is a definite set of writing rules, especially in film and TV, that you must learn and understand and incorporate in your writing. The film audience is rather sophisticated and enters every film with certain expectations based on the genre of film they are seeing. Our first job is not to cheat the audience. If they have expectations, and you do not meet those expectations, they will be disappointed. The best writers learn to break those rules and keep the audience happy at the same time.
Does competition play a part in your writing? Are you concerned someone may steal your ideas?
I don't worry about that too much. My ideas aren't very good, not really worth stealing.
What's been the toughest thing about being a writer so far? The writing itself or selling yourself?
I think that it's the writing. It is not easy to write a great screenplay. There are so many elements involved that must really come together. Through the magic of Hollywood, there are a lot of bad writers who somehow break through and make a great living, but I don't think that true talent goes unrecognized. I feel like oftentimes people who complain about not having access just don't have a great product to sell. They may have something better than what they see in movies or on television, but that certainly doesn't mean that they are great writers. On the other hand, I've been writing with my writing partner for over a year for an actor that now has his own TV show, and because of politics and other issues, we can't get staff jobs even though we feel we are fully qualified. That type of thing is frustrating. So, really, both aspects have been fairly difficult.
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