Saturday, September 20, 2008

Auteur Watch - Fred Jonathan R. Beutel

We'll get back to the other half of the greatest box office story in history, but first... You like scary stories, kids? Well, there's nothing scarier than a film director! They have to be a jack of all trades, a storyteller, a shaman, a technophile, a technophobe, a drill sargent, a mother, a father, and a shoulder to cry on firing a starter's pistol at your crew to make them walk a little faster, all in one little carbon-based human frame, ranging in weight from anywhere to Ida Lupino at 80 lbs., or ... Dom DeLuise directed once, right? Anyway, you get the idea. Now of course, everyone knows your Spielbergs and your Fred Ashmans, even the most isolationist farmers in Montana know all about them. And when your kids want to grow up and be a filmmaker, they sit there with their DV8 cameras uploading your most private memories to YouTube with dreams of Antoine Fuqua and Fred Ashman running through their heads. Ooh, someday I'm going to work for Jerry Bruckheimer! That's the American dream.
But, and this is a big but, American dreams often don't come true, except if you've got a defunkt bank these days. Then you're getting all kinds of government cheese, you rat!
As I was saying, American dreams often don't come true, and not all kids grow up to be Spielbergs or Friedkins or Zemecki or Fred Ashmans, no. Some grow up and start as screenwriters, hoping to get into directing. And inevitably, when a screenwriter's first starting out, they're hungry, and they write the best thing they'll ever write in their entire lives. And it gets made. Maybe even remade a whole generation later, 'cuz the CGI back then was kinda crappy. Which was part of its charm, because even good CGI today looks a little crappy and doesn't even have sufficient kitsch value by most standards, but I digress again. So your first project gets made, and it's a big hit, and you've finally got that brass ring, so you become a bit of a tyrant and you say, it is time. I've paid my dues and I'm ready to move into that big director's chair on the Chapman crane. Unfortunately, it's a hasty followup like My Science Project... Okay, so you wrote it while in High School so it needs a little tweaking, and you were really hoping to get Victor Mature to play the disgruntled teacher, but still, you've got the green light, the pressure's on, and you just gotta make do with what you got.
And so, it doesn't do as well as the studio hoped, but you still want to direct so you decide to do some TV. But you don't have the chops or the cojones of someone like Rod Daniel or Tony Bill or Joel Zwick, so you don't stay in TV forever and you do only two shows, CBS Playhouse and an animated show for kids based on the cute, cuddly antics of Freddy Krueger. But an opportunity comes up to cash in on the Jurassic Park craze, and like some desperate fool you jump at it.

Some like JONATHAN R. "Chet" BEUTEL!
I'm just saying it might work out that way, that's all. We all gots the Hoop Dreams, Coach!

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