A Metaphor For Survival In The Entertainment Industry by Adam Skelter

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

Film Courage: You had referenced the movie THANK YOU FOR SMOKING in at least of of your videos [on Adam’s Youtube channel]. Forgive me, I haven’t seen the movie but I want to make a point of seeing and I’ve heard from so many people that it’s amazing.

Adam Skelter, writer, director, story artist: It’s SO good! It’s amazing. Aaron Eckhart is so charismatic in it.

Film Courage: And where he [the character Nick Naylor] says he has this BA in…

Adam: …Public Relations…Oh? A BA in bullsh*t?

Photo from THANK YOU FOR SMOKING – property of Fox Searchlight Pictures

Film Courage: Right! And he’s the kind of guy that can talk a girl into anything. And so in that movie [THANK YOU FOR SMOKING] how would you break down the text, the subtext and the context? How much do you think [the theme] this relates to the entertainment business in the sense that they are trying to make it seem that smoking is okay, they are trying to portray that all of this is okay.

Adam: See what I think is interesting, I mean ultimately I love that movie because it’s a polemic, it’s presented as morally, it’s about moral ambiguity. There’s this larger theme which is basically saying like culture…this is a really complex breakdown, it’s a complex movie I love it, it’s one of my favorites.

But at its core it’s about this guy who is trying to sell smoking but what he’s really trying to do…I mean it’s an exercise in rhetoric but what he’s really trying to do is say I don’t want people to determine my life for me. I want to take control of my own life. I get to decide if I want throat cancer or not. Which is why at the very end you’re like if my kid wants to smoke I’m going to light it up for him. Because it’s not really about him saying like it’s okay to smoke.

Photo from THANK YOU FOR SMOKING – property of Fox Searchlight Pictures

The whole story is this journey of him facing these…largely it’s one of the themes that’s really close to me which is large tribal groups trying to impose their values on individuals and his individuality coming back and saying No, I’m going to do what I want to do and you’re kind of a villain for trying to impose that on other people.

And it does it in such a clever, polemic way and smoking is really just the pretext that gets us into it. It’s something that most people largely condemn. I don’t smoke and it’s not healthy but at the same time who are you to decide that for other people and that’s what that movie is asking about but from a GREAT rhetorical position.

Film Courage: So would you say there are similar themes [in the movie] in terms of story, the entertainment industry and what we view as acceptable to watch?

I think Rob Lowe plays the studio executive (I just watched a few clips) and he’s so great.

Adam: He’s so GOOD!

Film Courage: And he’s pitching people “Yeah I think it’s like…” And he names all of these blockbusters and that’s how he sees the world is based on all of these hit movies.

Adam: See I don’t know? I’ve been thinking about, especially the entertainment industry and like a lot of people especially on your channel, the interviews you guys are doing lots of discussion about you know what are the best rules for survival in the entertainment industry. And for me there’s this metaphor that just kind of describes is simply which is that the entertainment industry is like a harbor and we have a constantly shifting tide, the water is going up and down. And that tide is the amount of tension that people are willing to pay to things.

Now the industry does the best they can…and we’re talking by industry specifically we’re talking about studios, distributors, production companies they are trying to understand which way the water is going, where it’s moving and most of the time as a writer you are trying to swim in these choppy seas because you’ve built your craft and you’re trying to dock in the harbor. Now the studios have these docks and they’re the harbor, right? And because the water is constantly shifting the best you can do is make your craft as adaptable to whatever the needs of the harbor are. So they are looking for whatever is going to draw in…this metaphor may break down a bit if we get too specific. But the idea is basically everybody has to adapt to the shifting tide and the studios especially they have the most at stake. So they are looking for stories or writers, craftspersons that have built crafts that are adaptable to the shifting tides and you know there are some studios that have built these massive mega harbors and your little dinghy comes up and it’s just going to get beat up against the water because it will be swallowed up because the water is changing so much. Now especially with the changing of streaming and distribution models are radically shifting and indie film is shifting and people are making movies for less than a million dollars the harbor is dramatically different than it was five years ago, ten years ago.

So when it comes to the industry, all you’re trying to do is find your path in. The best thing you can do is focus on developing your craft as much as possible. Making it as adaptable as possible which is really just the process of being able to delve into your metaphors and really work on being able to tell the stories that are compelling to other people and no one has the right answer to that. We’re all just figuring that out.


Question For The Viewers: What’s your reaction to Adam’s metaphor?


Watch the video interview on Youtube here


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¡CALAMBRE! is a 53 minute episodic black and white film about a poet who returns to his hometown of New York City to rekindle an old flame, only to complicate his return with new women in his life. A film by Carlos Renaso.