Friday, May 21, 2010

Me and IMDB

Funny thing happens when conflict occurs. My readership doubled in 2 days. This of course, relates to the phone book incident.

To clear things up about me, although many of you out there know me very well, I will explain my career span. I usually say it's around 30 to 35 years, depending on who's listening. But anyone who reads my bio knows I started in 1969.

Most of you weren't born yet. Or at least some of you.

My first job was at a local TV station, in the mailroom and over the course of 4 years rose to newsfilm camera and sound. After that I did commercials and documentaries up to 1979. In 1980 I wrote and directed my first feature, Ghostkeeper. That was followed by several Canadian TV  movies and series.

Now I don't know how many of  you can describe events 20 to 30 years ago in sequence, I sure can't. I always make mistakes. But there is no mistake in my "body of work". And all my credits aren't on IMDB. In fact this series I'm blogging can only be found by title, but it's not on my imdb credits. I also did some work on MacGyver but not much came of that and I didn't add it either.

Do I care? This might be hard for younger hipster doofus writers to understand but it really doesn't matter to me that much. I have enough credits on imdb to feel secure about, some good, some bad, some mediocre.

So what's IMDB.

For those who don't know, IMDB or Internet Movie Data Base, was started in England some years ago and has grown to be "the" movie industry guide. You can find out information about almost anybody, what they did, who's their agent, which gaffer was on which movie. It's the quickest way to find out if someone you're arguing with actually has made a series or movie. It's the new b.s. detector.

IMDB is mostly about actors, writers and directors but listings of crew are there as well. In addition there are "reviews" by odd people who I'm sure live in their parent's basement take the time to write what they think a movie is about.  My movie Ghostkeeper has some really good reviews, and also some that say it's the worst movie ever made.

And adding and/or changing a credit is a task in itself. They make it almost impossible as I found out when I attempted to correct an episode of Highlander which had a crew member as author of that script rather than me. It took almost 3 months and even then, was done by someone in an imdb forum.

I have one movie in development on IMDB, Ghosts of Odessa, which is legit. I also have been developing, including Travel Day, the movie this blog started out with, and a smaller feature for which I'm workshopping with actors presently. I didn't put them on IMDB because they weren't really being made, just hopefuls.

This is where IIMDB fails, in my estimation. Because anyone can post their movie as an "in development" category even if it's just a guy with a script. IMDB tries to separate the real productions from the ones that just want to have their name on IMDB.

So, for the record I have been in the business for 41 years, although my screenwriting career was only 29 years, but my film camera work was 8 years, although I still do it now and then for my documentaries. My documentary career started in 1973...

You can see where I'm going... so don't ask me when I did Lightning Force or Mom P.I, or Odyssey or any other unless you have a specific reason. Then I can go to IMDB and look it up.

And here's where the job descriptions begin to blurr. What makes it a little more complicated is that I'm not just a screenwriter, I also have worked as a TV newscameraman and soundman. I photographed several short films,  two of which won international awards. I wrote and produced and directed around 500 commercials and a handful of corporate films and documentaries.

So when someone asks me how long I've been writing, it's a complicated answer. Generally I go to 1980, when I wrote my first feature. TV work didn't start till 1992. So I can say I've been in the "business" since 1969 but I didn't start writing movies and TV until 1980.

Another reason I don't like go back too far is the most obvious. I'm past the magic age of 39, after which writers and actors and even directors begin to get grey. To my friends I've worked 41 years, to a prospective employer I've been around for 25 or 30 years.

In fact a recent age discrimination lawsuit has been settled in which some major agencies and production companies will pay millions to writers for age discrimination.

As far as the series in this blog (which isn't in my IMDB credits either)  it happened like I say it did, the characters, whose  names have been changed, are real and they were like that. The show lasted two seasons and it's ratings were horrible and at least I escaped at the end of the first season.

As far as differences between a series written in the 1990's vs now, nothing's really changed any more than if it were 1920. We just have iPhones and satellite TV, the business remains the same. Anybody who thinks different is either naive or delusional. 

(Mon: Back to the series)


  1. "As far as the series in this blog (which isn't in my IMDB credits either) it happened like I say it did, the characters, whose names have been changed, are real and they were like that. The show lasted two seasons and it's ratings were horrible and at least I escaped at the end of the first season."

    Funny. In the comments you deleted the other day, you were fired. Now you "escaped."

    "As far as differences between a series written in the 1990's vs now, nothing's really changed any more than if it were 1920. We just have iPhones and satellite TV, the business remains the same. Anybody who thinks different is either naive or delusional. "

    You haven't worked in TV in awhile so you don't know. If you still have any friends on staffs, ask them. You used to be able to snort coke and act like a child. Now it's so competitive and lawsuits are such a problem, that you have to be a professional.

    Not throw phone books at people.

    It's been 15 years. Stop pretending you know how TV works now. You don't.

  2. First of all if you had read my blog they wanted to fire me, but didn't.

    Secondly this seemingly sociopathic obsession about my "Lies" is moving towards stalking territory. I still don't know who you are or what you do, "Jerry on staff of well known show".

    Someone once said a person must be successful when they start getting people who want to take them down. Critiques I don't mind, lying is another issue. That's crossing the line not to say idiotic.

    I do have friends on current shows and some enjoy this blog. And they all say it's the same business, although more competitive as you say. But the fact there's lawsuits suggests that things haven't changed.

    Also consider that this fall's season has a pile of 1980's remakes, including Hawaii 5-0 and remakes of Dallas, Cheers and Quincy. Even Tom Selleck is back.

    If you guys are so bright why resort to re-do old shows? Even Law & Order is a copy of a 60's show.

    If you don't like me or my blog, then leave. As I mentioned it's getting into stalker-land and a restraining order could be an option.

    You say TV isn't like what I experienced years ago, vindictive, back-stabbing and sociopathic behavior. And besides a generic first name you won't reveal as much about yourself as I do. In fact you reveal nothing.

    Look at yourself first, "Jerry".

  3. Comment to above anonymous, a.k.a. "Jerr"....

    Seriously man, if you really are working on a TV series don't you have better things to do than bash somebody else?

    You're not just quibbling semantics here over one too many glasses of wine at another Hollywood party. You're taking a stab at someone else's integrity.

    And for what? Because you think you're more 'in the know' than the next guy?

    I think you're missing the whole point of this blog. Jim is simply giving us a taste of what it's like in "the biz".

    And he's doing it by sharing his experiences - no-holds-barred - both good and bad. I give him kudos for putting himself out there like that because it's not easy.

    We get an insider's view of what things were like 'back then' AND what things are like now, from one person's individual perspective and based on their personal experiences.

    Furthermore, it's impossible to judge or qualify someone else's POV because you're NOT THEM and you WEREN'T THERE. Not to mention it's completely unfair.

    Your comments are ompletely unnecessary and highly unprofessional in an industry that would best be served by people supporting each other (because everybody knows it ain't easy out there).

    And I hate to say it, but you are the spitting image of the typical schoolyard bully. Any psych 101 text will tell you that bullies are that way because of some personal unhappiness in their own lives. It never really has anything to do with the lunch money they couldn't get from Billy in grade four.

    So give it a rest will ya?

    And remember, it's a free country. And so are blogs. I challenge you to start your own. Go ahead, knock yourself out.

    Let's see whatcha got.

  4. Thanks for the great blog Jim and don't let the noname nobody let it get derailed. The tweep needs to take time out and sit in the corner playing with his/her iPod. You're the most professional, non-violent person I know and if you threw a telephone book, anyone else would have thrown the desk. Sounds to me like they're just trying to make a play for the sour grapes cheap shot. For the rest of us, just keep on blogging. It's refreshing to hear someone tell it like it is! Lynn

  5. Yes, TV shows are run the same because they're remaking 80s shows. Hey, they make movies from board games now. I guess that means movies are run like board games.

    Restraining order for comments on a blog? Not to tell you how to run your blog, but turn off anonymous comments if you don't want anonymous comments. That one's free, Jim. No need to hire a lawyer.

  6. I came on here to have a crack at the IMDb - you can see how professional I am by the way as I put the small letter at the end!!!
    IMDb pro has a 'starmeter;' this tells you how popular you are on the site. Most mid to nobody actors, like me, are around the 90,000 mark and I know of a lot of really good actors who are in the millions.
    Number one this week is Robert Downey Jr; this means more people have clicked onto his page this week than on anybody else's; he's a good actor but it's not always that way and if anybody dies they go to number one.
    Some agents and casting directors actually ask 'what number is he on IMDb?' as if that tells you how famous they are but as I said to Jim earlier Adolph Hitler is quite high on the list and this week he is number 6689 - and by the way he is known for 'Triumph of the Will.'
    Yes maybe if we have something to say we should put our name at the bottom.
    Chris - there's mine; easy isn't it?