Monday, July 05, 2010

not "the" story, MY story

I've received a few emails lately from people interested in speaking to me about my pen pal relationship with John Hughes, i.e., producers, filmmakers. It's been a while since I've received messages like these; most of them came in the days and weeks immediately following John's death — which is now almost a year ago.

The messages from John Hughes fans have never stopped.

Like those initial messages, I am flattered by the interest from those who want to tell the story, but I already made the decision that I was not going to follow that path for a number of reasons — some of which have to do with John, some of which have to do with me.

The majority of the messages are very kind and from people who seem to be fans of John themselves. The odd thing is that there have also been messages that suggest that the story will be told whether or not I want it to be.

Wait, let me rewrite that — not "the" story, MY story.

And, apparently, that's something that's totally cool. Okay, not cool necessarily, but kosher, as in I have nothing to say about it.

At least that's what Tod Goldberg told me earlier today. (I asked Tod if I could use screen shots of his tweets in this post and he said yes. I'll remove them if he asks me to do so.)

Read from bottom to top. Sorry, I'm too lazy to grab each tweet separately.

By the way, don't shoot the messenger; Tod's not saying it's right, he's just saying it is.

Does anyone else think this is bullshit or am I just ridiculously naive?


Nedra Weinreich said...

I don't know the exact legalities, but from what I've seen it happens all the time (e.g., the "unauthorized biographies" of celebrities). They can take the info that's in the public domain and write the story the way they think it happened (or however it works best dramatically). Of course, it will be more accurate if you're involved (with compensation to you for cooperating), but as long as it's true-ish, they may not need you.

Mark G. said...

As someone who has seen too many intelligent, diginified people lose all perspective at the mere mention of a movie incorporating incidents from their lives, I suggest one of the following two options:

1. Negotiate a good deal.
2. Say no and mean it.

In the absence of an obvious route to #1, choosing option #2 will often lead to back to #1 anyway. Once either option comes to pass, MOVE ON. For myriad reasons, even if you negotiate the best deal in the world, the movie may never get made.

But that's not the worst that can happen. The worst that can happen is a successful movie is made, that has your name on it, for which you see no credit or compensation.

Now, I know monetary gain wasn't your goal when you wrote to John originally, or when you blogged about writing to him, so you shouldn't let it colour your decisions now.

Trust me, this can grow to dominate your life, if you let it. Should things take a left turn, you could well find yourself wishing you'd never even heard the name 'John Hughes'. There will be plenty of people willing to speak on your behalf. They might charge an hourly rate, maybe a percentage, maybe even pro-bono.

If it's some consolation, whilst everying Tod has laid out above is plausible, the likelihood of an intelligent, perceptive filmmaker becoming involved, without having access to the originators (i.e. you) is practically nil. That leaves the hacks, and that leaves negligible chance of a successful or notable movie.

On the upside, if anyone ever corners you at a party twenty years down the line and says: 'I tell ya, I loved that John Hughes. Did you ever see that shitty movie they made about that girl who wrote all these letters?' You get to smile, say 'Nope.' and listen to him confirm, once again, that you made the right call.

The guys (and gals) that make the 'life-changing' movies likely to put you in Erin Brokivich-town will want to know you - BECAUSE THEY CARE. (Much like a certain filmmaker that comes to mind) And when some two-bit producer says 'We're not in discussion with her.' they'll say 'Okay', take their iPhone off 'Silent' and smile and nod until the meeting is over.

Like most things, this will only become the 'worst decision of your life' if you let it.

Good luck,
Mark G.

abf said...

Mark G., you have made everything better. Thank you.

Fuck 'em.

Moving on.

I'll never regret writing to John and I'll get back to not regretting writing that damn blog post.

Mark G. said...

More power to you, Allison.

Glad I could help.

Heidi Germanaus said...

I certainly understand where you're coming from but at the same time, the story is inspirational and these days....that's hard to come by. Folks need to hear about stuff like this to know it's possible.

I personally don't think you'd be selling out John's memory by sharing this experience with the rest of the world. That's what he did, why people loved him, he made relative films that became their own culture. He brought joy to so many and you could extend that feeling by properly honoring the very "real" person that he was.

He made beautiful movies. Making one about him seems like it would be a fitting tribute.

Either way, you seem like a very decent person. Whether you contributed to or even wrote the damn thing yourself- it wouldn't change that.

stefaneechi said...

I dunno if it'll have any relevance on your decision to cooperate with people who want to make your story into a film, but there's a doc called Don't You Forget About Me - 4 filmmakers searching for Hughes before his death, and this flick really captures the reverence many people, (myself included,) have for Hughes and his films.

Anonymous said...

I just read your post about corresponding with John Hughes and firstly, thank you for sharing that. What else can i say than a beautiful story and you have a great story to share with your kids or grandkids when they grow up and you show them these quirky 80s movies.

I can understand where the money grabbers saw dollars in your story. Don't let them ruin what is obviously a precious thing to you and a unique relationship. Although a great story,

I can't see anyone doing anywhere near justice to that "damned blog post" in some TV movie.

I really hope you don't end up feeling sour about all of this because it really was a beautiful thing you gave to us who grew up with John Hughes' films

Bryony Disbury said...

I just read this blog Alison and can totally see why you'd get so much interest in your story. But I can also see how personal and private these letters are to you and John and I respect even you discussing your story. Hope you dont get upset by peoples interest as you wrote a truely positive story.
And as a filmaker myself I fully respect your decision not to share your story. I think you are a honest light as John never wrote to you with the intention of his leters being aired.