Writer’s Desk: The Best Things Are the True Things

When George Huang was writing the screenplay for Swimming the Sharks, he based much of it on his experience as an assistant working for hot-tempered producers like Joel Silver. He noticed, though, that whenever he and other assistants traded war stories, there was a catch:

Consistently, my friends who worked for Scott Rudin would always win. Some of the stories they told were almost too absurd to be true. If I put it in the movie, no one would’ve believed it.

In a twist that is either ironic or simply flat-out disturbing, the 1994 movie ended up starring Kevin Spacey, who would later be accused of horrific abuse, embodying many of those anecdotes. Still, Huang remembers that he was convinced to not go all the way, specifically with the stories about Rubin, now facing potentially career-ending charges himself:

I remember trying to put the stories in an early draft, and when [other producers] read it, it was like, ‘Yeah, this is way, way over the top. This would’ve never happened,’” Huang recalled. “I’d go, ‘Oh, but it does.

Huang was a first-time director and ultimately likely did not have the power to have his way on everything. But his experience serves as a good reminder: If it is true, no matter what people think, fight to leave it in.

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