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#46 Treading carefully

I came to L.A. believing in fairness and karma. That said, I knew the entertainment business could be a brutal business, so I felt it was prudent to keep my guard up, which I did the moment Sandy asked, in an even voice, “What do you mean?”

I answered, “I want to help as much as I can so I think it’s a good idea for me to understand the editing process.”

He relaxed a little. But still cautious, he said, “I heard you worked a lot with Jean on your scripts. I’m sure he edited them. You saw his notes, right?”

I nodded, but added, “Seeing his notes and understanding why they were there are two different things.” It was true, but I’d conveniently left out that Jean had explained to me, in detail, why he had made every revision suggestion he made, but I wanted to see where Sandy’s head was at when it came to editing.

I continued, “I revised my scripts according to Jean’s notes. But I haven’t done script editing like you and him, so I’d like to understand why you do what you do.”

With my admission that he was in a superior position to me, even though his title already affirmed that, Sandy relaxed for the first time. He went into a half-hour professorial, by rote dissertation on the general principles of story editing, the importance of ‘house style’, continuity and consistency. It all made sense, but to me he sounded cautiously dispassionate. I felt like he was reading from a textbook about scriptwriting rather than from personal experience.

By the time Sandy finished, it was apparent to me that this was the first time he’d ever been a story editor.


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