A connected friend assures that this “I will not read your effing script” rant has made Josh Olson “the hottest screenwriter in town at the moment…he struck a nerve and set off a mother lode around the web.”
Here’s a portion I fully understand and believe in, which is that you can spot mediocrity or a lack of talent in any form of artistic endeavor almost right away. Within ten pages in a script, and within ten minutes if you’re watching a film. Actually, you can can usualy tell if a film doesn’t make it within two or three minutes after the credits but I think it’s fair to stick around for at least ten minutes.
“Now, I normally have a standard response to people who ask me to read their scripts,” Olson writes, “and it’s the simple truth: I have two piles next to my bed. One is scripts from good friends, and the other is manuscripts and books and scripts my agents have sent to me that I have to read for work. Every time I pick up a friend’s script, I feel guilty that I’m ignoring work. Every time I pick something up from the other pile, I feel guilty that I’m ignoring my friends. If I read yours before any of that, I’d be an awful person.
“Most people get that. But sometimes you find yourself in a situation where the guilt factor is really high, or someone plays on a relationship or a perceived obligation, and it’s hard to escape without seeming rude. Then, I tell them I’ll read it, but if I can put it down after ten pages, I will. They always go for that, because nobody ever believes you can put their script down once you start.
“But hell, this was a two page synopsis, and there was no time to go into either song or dance, and it was just easier to take it. How long can two pages take?
“Weeks, is the answer.
“And this is why I will not read your fucking script.
“It rarely takes more than a page to recognize that you’re in the presence of someone who can write, but it only takes a sentence to know you’re dealing with someone who can’t.”