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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Charlie Kaufman lashes out at Hollywood executives

Charlie Kaufman lashes out at Hollywood executives in WGA speech: “they can’t do anything of value without us

(Credits: Far Out / Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival)

Film

Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman celebrated his fellow wordsmiths while criticising Hollywood’s power structure during his acceptance speech at the Writer’s Guild Awards, where he received the top honourary film prize. Kauffman’s scripts include Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich and Adaptation.

“We trained to believe that what we do is secondary to what they do,” he began, referring to Hollywood executives. “Our work is to reflect the world, say what is true in the face of so much lying. The rest is window dressing at best, ‘Triumph of the Will’ at worst.”

The Synecdoche, New York creator’s barbed comments come amid ongoing contract negotiations between the Writer’s Guild and Hollywood’s largest employers. The new contracts are expected to come into force on March 20th. Kaufman went on to quote the poet Adrienne Rich, who famously wrote: “I do know that art means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of the power which holds it hostage.”

Kaufman added: “The world is beautiful. The world is impossibly complicated. And we have the opportunity to explore that. If we give that up for the carrot, then we might as well be the executives.” The screenwriter then confessed to having “dropped the ball” himself. “I have wasted years seeking the approval of people with money. Don’t get trapped in their world of box office numbers. You don’t work for the world of box office numbers. You work for the world. Just make your story honest and tell it.”

“They’ve tricked us into thinking we can’t do it without them,” he concluded. “The truth is they can’t do anything of value without us.” He then thanked the WGA for the coveted Screenwriting Laurel and for giving him the chance to reflect on “what it is that’s important to me about the work that we do.”

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