Not For an idiot

The last point David Hare made on Thursday was a really good one.

He said that on The Hours, Stephen Daldry asked him to write several scenes more than fifty times. This was so that he could choose from the very best (and is in direct contravention of David Abbott’s assertion that such behaviour turns creativity into a commodity).

However, there is one giant corollary to this: Hare added that ‘you wouldn’t do that for an idiot’.

And there’s the rub: if you know someone good is choosing then there’s really no downside to working harder – the best solution you reach cannot get worse. Unfortunately, if you are doing this for most clients (and a few dumb ECDs), you will be doing it for an idiot, and therefore wasting most of your time.

Daldry is a very good director, so giving him more good stuff to choose from will result in more good things, but if you were writing for, say, Michael Bay, you would have no confidence in him choosing your best work.

I had a direct experience of this earlier in my career: if I had to write a line for, say, Nigel Roberts, then I would often be asked to have another go. And I was happy to do this, because if Nigel chose my line then I knew it was good; I thought my ad might have a shot at awards and I left his office quite pathetically pleased with myself.

On the other hand, if I had to do the same for (other person who has judged my work in the past) and they rejected it, I’d just stand there thinking, ‘yeah, but you’re shit. In fact, I’m better at this than you are, so why should I give a cat’s bollock about your opinion?’

So the best plan is to work for really good people, then the latter situation never happens.

Alas, though, in this day and age the odds are far higher that you are going to be showing your work to an idiot.