Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1146: In At The Deep End

"But what I really want to do is direct."

That's an old cliche in Hollywood, mostly because it's true. Lots of people who work in the movie business from writers, to producers, to executives would love to become directors. It has the image of the take-charge auteur who takes words on paper, actors, props, and other things, and magically brings them all together to make a film.

It's a very tempting prospect.

Roberto Orci made his name as a screenwriter specializing, with his scribbling partner Alex Kurtzman, in big action and explosion heavy blockbusters for major studios. Now he's getting out from in front of the computer to behind the camera having just landed the job of directing the next Star Trek movie.

Now I'm not going to talk specifics about Mr. Orci, because I don't know the man personally other than a brief jokey exchange like two years ago on Twitter, nor am I a fan of the new Star Trek franchise, but I think I can speak in broad generalities and be extremely judgemental in a broad general way.

My concern is that Orci, while experienced in writing and producing, has only 1 directing credit to his name, and that's the upcoming Star Trek 3.

That's a very precarious position to be in, and I'll tell you why.

Paramount doesn't have much in the blockbuster movie franchise department. They have to share Transformers with Hasbro, they sold back the Marvel movies to Marvel/Disney, and the Mission: Impossible series is pretty much dependent on the whims of star Tom Cruise.

That leaves Star Trek as the studio's flagship movie franchise.

That means that Orci will be carrying a lot of the studio's proverbial eggs in his proverbial basket with a $150-$200+ million budget with his very first directing gig.

Those things mean that every studio suit will feel compelled to put their 2 cents in every decision. That's going to be tricky for Orci since making an effects-heavy mega-budget blockbuster requires literally tens-of-thousands of decisions both large and small.

And it's not like Orci can use years of experience as a director in his own defence, he has none, and none of his time as a writer and producer in film and television counts in the eyes of the powers that be.

If the whole situation hadn't been so badly rushed by the sudden defection of original director JJ Abrams to Star Wars at Disney, he might have directed a couple of smaller features, or even some episodes of television to prove his abilities as a director. Then he might have some defences against the monstrous regiment of meddlers and self-justifiers.

Right now, where things stand, he's pretty naked.

I wish him luck, he's going to need it.

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