Beancounters Rule the world.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

We've all read the ranting lamentations of how marketing, computerized inventory systems, et al, are making the major decisions in publishing, etc. Such is the way of the (creative arts) world, judging by this comment from actor Anthony LaPaglia (taken from his recent interview in Nerve).

You've been quoted as saying, "This is a bad time to be an actor. . . I make a great living at it, but in terms of fulfillment, there's no soul in it anymore." Do you still feel that way?
Yeah. For the most part, I think that's absolutely true. It's become so corporate. It's all about horizontal integration and all this other crap. When I started [acting], generally speaking, they would cast the best person for the job. Now it's just a list of who means what in Romania or France, or "How much pre-sell can we get?" Then, you have the advent of the twenty-five-million-dollar actor, which has impacted so many parts of the business. Fortunately, I've only ever had two agents in my whole life, and I'm quite happy with mine [currently]. But, there was a time when your agents were there to help you, and to protect you and make sure you made the right decisions. Now, they're in the business of maintaining relationships with producers that will help them down the line. Agents have become stars by proxy. It's just a weird situation.

(hmmmm... I wonder if a bunch of his fellow writers are going to jump all over his case and tell him he should have kept his mouth shut? ::whistling innocently:: )

All the heartache or ranting in the world, won't change anything. You really can't go into this game only thinking of the creative side, you really have to understand how the business runs and how you can perform/exist within the process and find your success and happiness.
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Jean said...

I just came from reading about the Snarkling whose agent had twenty rejections on his/her book and was wondering if he/she needed another agent but learned he/she was stuck with the one she had, because agents don't want books that have already been rejected. I was mentally repeating to the screen, "Write another book."

But seriously, the business side of this business is disheartening. In my case, I'm making sure I have a means to support myself and writing will serve a nice to have role -- if it works out, that's great. If not, I'm honing my craft for personal satisfaction. For me, anything else is just too risky.

And you've illustrated that the entertainment industry as a whole has changed over the years. On the other hand, F. Scott Fitzgerald barely survived on his writing -- something many people today don't realize. Certainly, today, he's viewed as highly successful. So, has it really changed, or do we look at the past with rose-colored glasses?

Jaye said...

I agree, Jean, she needs to get moving on ms #2. Although that's a no-brainer, and if she didn't twig onto that herself, then hell yeah, she needs another agent, because that's what her agent should be telling her. After all, agents/and publishers aren't interested in *one book* they're interested in authors who produce.

Like you, I'm not banking on making a living (and by that I mean either my current level or better) at writing. If it happens, jim dandy. If it doesn't, I live.

Of course I could come up with a whole blog post about the realization/self-fulfillment of goal setting. A friend said she thought I was more interested in the processes/craft of writing, rather than being published. She's right. On the other hand, just about all of my writing buddies who have always had their eye on the main prize, so to speak, are now published. :-/ And, I set a bunch of goals for my self this year and just about all of them have been achieved, are in the process of being achieved, or have improved quit a bit.

Back on topic, yep, this business will break your heart, if you let it.

Thanks for posting, Jean. I'll have to pop over by Ms. Snark to read about that writer.

PBW said...

I love Anthony LaPaglia's work, and I think he's one of the best actors on the screen. That said, I agree with you -- lamenting the golden days when art ruled and the beancounters were relegated to the last line of the importance list is a waste of time. We can't go back in time, we have to deal with the now.

This is an endurance race. I'd say 90% of the writers who got into the business at the same time I did have been dumped by their publishers or quit to do other things. A good chunk of those writers were far more talented than me -- they just couldn't deal with the compromises you have to make in order to make a living as a novelist.

The business will not just break your heart, it may rip it still-beating out of your chest. And, if you're really unlucky, make you watch while it makes lunch out of it. It's very personal to us, but it means nothing to them, and you have to remember that every time you deal with them.

As writers we only have as much influence or power as our sell-through allows us. Over the years of watching too many hearts being made into coleslaw, I've come to believe that the only constructive things we can do to change the industry is focus on the work and help each other get through. On the latter, if for no other reason than that no one else will.

raine said...

...And, I set a bunch of goals for my self this year and just about all of them have been achieved, are in the process of being achieved, or have improved quit a bit.

Well that's something huge to celebrate, isn't it? YAAYYY!! :-)

...Back on topic, yep, this business will break your heart, if you let it.

The beancounters have taken over, eh? Sigh...
It's a little hard to find that straddling line between being commercial and being creative sometimes. Sometimes it seems to come down to one or the other.

And yes, this business can break your heart. I'm not sure how to "not let it", except not to put all of your hopes and heart into it. And how sad is that?

Jaye said...

PBW - I agree on Anthony LaPaglia, he is one of the most underrated actors out there.

Also agree with everything else you've said. An author may get published on merits (skills/hooks), but merits/talent alone won't keep you published. :-/

Jaye said...

I'm not sure how to "not let it", except not to put all of your hopes and heart into it. And how sad is that?

Very. Especially when you can't do it any other way. :-/

Amie Stuart said...

I wonder if a bunch of his fellow writers are going to jump all over his case


Sadly it's all something most of us know even if some folks refuse to acknowledge it.

Jordan Summers said...

I don't think the over all concept is anything new. Mozart spent a large part of his short life, writing for hire. The focus changes, but the overall game doesn't. I think PBW is absolutely correct. It's all about endurance and flexibility.

Jaye said...

Amie, some refuse to believe, other's dont' want too, or wish it wasn't so. :-/

Jordan, I think we get caught up the modern day hype of the multi-millionaire author, whilst historically, it was accepted that artists were poor/starving. Far more closer to the everlasting truth.

Maureen McGowan said...

Can't believe it's taken me so long to get to your blog. Love it.

I think your penguin video sums up this industry... Mr. LaPaglia just doesn't like getting pushed into the water so much.

But... seeing things from his persepective... he started out in the Australian film industry (maybe even on the stage?) where it probably is less business oriented... But the entertainment business is big business and even the artists have to realize that... (And I mean writers, too.)

Jaye said...

Hey there Maureen, my fellow TRWA'er. Thanks for dropping by my silly little corner of the blogosphere.

I think when you a passion for something, all the nuances, etc, it's very hard to deal with folks who are coming at it with a very cold-eye perspective. :-/

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