Log Line

A young screenwriter pursues Hollywood success at all costs and becomes selfishly world-wise in the process.


Medium: Film

Writer(s): George Huang

Director(s): George Huang

Production Co.(s): Cineville; Keystone Studios; Mama'Z Boy Entertainment

In Swimming with Sharks, a young screenwriter named Guy goes to work for a Hollywood mogul and is thrilled for the chance to do so, thinking it gives him a foot in one very big door. Soon after he begins his employment, however, he discovers that the mogul is abusive and prone to humiliating those who work around him. And when the mogul takes credit for developing a screenplay he has written, Guy breaks into his home, subduing and torturing him.

At the climax, Guy faces a choice of whom to murder—the mogul or his own girlfriend, who has come to the mogul's door to pitch a script. The final scene reveals that he has done the latter… and that he has pinned on her the break-in and torture of the mogul. In doing so, he has become world-wise in an ugly sense—like the mogul himself, with whom he partners in the end.

Guy is the character whose actions drive the story, and his are the eyes, ears, and heart through which we-the-audience are meant to experience its world; therefore, he is clearly the main character. And because his goal involves acquiring power and influence that he has never possessed, he is a gain character—and his condition of value is possession of that power and influence (a bundled package).

The path that he pursues in the story can be generally categorized as "seeking status" (or personal power) at the cost of abandoning moral conduct, which stands in opposition to the advice most (not all) parents are likely to pass on to their children and serves well as the basis of an inadvisable endeavor. As a result, the proposition for Swimming with Sharks may be stated:

  • One should not attempt to gain status at the cost of abandoning moral conduct, because success in the attempt will render the status hollow and worthy of contempt.

By the time the credits roll, Guy has succeeded in his attempt to gain the status he desires—or at least he appears to be well on his way to doing so. But we-the-audience know him to be a murderous villain, and in our minds he has joined the ranks of those who deserve to be jailed. His success offends us and leaves us disappointed, which renders Swimming with Sharks as a succeed/disappointed story.

Continued -->

To view, submit, or reply to comments on this article, please join the Academy (for free!)
Already a member? Simply log in now.