Once you start getting into the Hollywood maze, and people are reading your scripts, you’re gonna hear that word an awful lot. I’m referring to the “love” word. No, we’re not talking about eager young starlets trying to get parts in movies (sure, like they’d actually go after screenwriters!), I’m talking about the people we affectionately call producers. Here’s one little story I’m particularly fond of:
A few years ago I heard about a producer looking for a great horror script to put into production, something that could be shot relatively inexpensively (the million dollar range). Well, it just so happened I had such a script. I e-mailed this producer, "Frank," and pitched my story. He wrote back, letting me know he loved it. He gave me his home address and asked me to send the script. Turned out his home was just a hop, skip and jump from my home, so I asked if I could drop it at his front door later that night. His response was, “Sure, no problem.”
So there I was dropping my script at his front door at one o’clock in the morning. A day or two later, Frank calls and leaves me a message on my voice mail: “Jim, it’s Frank. I read your script. I love it! Call me.” So I called him and we had a nice chat. He was positively glowing over my script. Said it was the best one he’d read in a long time. He also said he could definitely produce it relatively low-budget (but he did say he’d like to try to do it for a substantially larger budget). He also talked about distribution avenues that were available to him.
The next day I was at his house and we were signing an option agreement. He even paid me a modest little option fee. What followed was two years of ups and downs, meetings, phone calls, and a teaser trailer (for potential money people); at one point we were actually mere days away from pre-production. But things would always fall apart.
Then one day we met with a fairly well-known baseball player (being deficient in the sports gene, I had no idea who this guy was) who came on board as an executive producer. He was going to co-finance the movie. One of the first things he says to me is, “Hey, man, I love your script.” (Come to think of it, everyone at the meeting that day said, “Love your script.”) To show much how much he loved my script, Mr. Baseball said he was going to pay me a relatively generous chunk of “good faith” money. But oh, he forgot his checkbook. “I’ll put the check in the mail first thing tomorrow,” he said. No problem.
The following week went by and no check. Another week went by and still no check. I told Frank, and boy, was he upset. I did finally get my check, about two-and-a-half weeks after that initial meeting. Oddly enough, that was the last we heard from Mr. Baseball. I was told he chickened out. But hey, I got to keep the money!
Frank then introduced me to a woman named Joanne who represented an Italian production company. First thing she said to me was, “I really love your script, Jim. The people I represent love your script, too.” Then there was all this talk about shooting at that big studio over in Rome, and American television stars heading the cast, and...well, it all became a blur after a while. One thing I do remember quite clearly was Joanne saying, “Italy shuts down in August. There’s nothing going on. We’re going to have to wait until September before anything really starts to roll.” It was something like mid-July, so I just sat back and waited. As we parted company after that initial meeting, Joanne reiterated that she loved my script, and that I should write more scripts for her to love.
In the weeks that followed, I had phone conversations and exchanged a few e-mails with Joanne. Then I never heard from her again. Frank was so distraught that he pretty much just gave up. However, he did have another script of mine that he really loved. His wife loved it too. She told me so herself. Anyway, he tried to get it set up at some companies, but it never went anywhere.
I haven’t had contact with Frank in nearly a year. I’ve sent him a few e-mails in recent months, but he hasn’t responded.
But never fear, I’ve have since optioned that horror script to another producer who loves it. In fact, he’s halfway through his second year of loving it.
Stay tuned for further developments.