I had a bit of a setback last week. Actually, a major setback. A script I’ve had under option for something like three years—and a script that was oh-so-close to obtaining its full financing—sort of fell apart on me. Yup, we got word several days ago that the first group of investors has backed out of the deal; and now the other group is having second thoughts about the whole thing. We’re not down for the count just yet, but it ain’t lookin’ too good. The producers say they’ll have to kick the project loose if this second group of investors decides to drop out. All the meetings, all the phone calls, all the e-mails, all the script submissions and meetings with big-name actors...and this is what it’s come down to. But ya know what? Like it or not, that’s the way this business of film works. Up one minute, down the next. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again. Not just to me, but to every other screenwriter—every other filmmaker—trying to eek out a living in this cockamamie business. (And make no mistake about it—this business is cockamamie.)
A few hours ago, I got off the phone with a friend of mine who happens to be a film director. He’s done a few movies in the last handful of years. You’ve probably seen at least one of them. But anyway, here’s a guy with a halfway decent track record and even he’s struggling like crazy. Up until about a week ago, he had a pretty big movie lined up. An Academy Award-winning actor was set to star. It was a greenlit picture. Then, CRASH, it all fell to pieces. Back to square one. But again, that’s how this business works sometimes.
As for yours truly...well, I spent about twenty minutes kicking the furniture. But then I put myself back into the proper mindset and got creative. All I could think about was, “How can I get this project back on track?” “Who can I call?” That’s pretty much the only path you can take, otherwise you close up shop and sell insurance for the rest of your life. Lemme tell ya, that ain’t gonna happen. (No offense to all you insurance salesmen out there.)
But I do have other scripts in the works. As I posted in a recent blog, I just had a table-read of one of these scripts. It went very well and the producers were very happy. So I’ll press forward on that project and a couple of others I’m cranking on. Yup, it’s a lot of work, and things usually move at a snail’s pace (and that’s an awfully frustrating part of this job), but this is what I do. I have to put up with the disappointment. No real way around it.
That’s why I laugh when some newbie writer—who’s written maybe two scripts in his entire life— tells me he sent out 25 query letters and has yet to received a response. Boo hoo, I’m heartbroken. C’mon, snap out of it. Send out 25 more queries. Send 100. Send 200. Hit the streets and knock on some doors. Make some phone calls. Do what it takes. Build up your immune system. You’ll need it if you are lucky enough to join the big boys.
If you’re not willing to get your hands dirty and your hair mussed, then a cozy cubicle at ACME Insurance awaits. For me, it’s onward and upwards.