Meeting: The Aftermath...

So my reps had their meeting with Mr. Bigshot Producer yesterday. This is the guy who raved about my two scripts...and had all sorts of ideas for getting them produced...and said he wanted to get rolling on things as soon as possible...and he makes the trip to Los Angeles specifically to talk things over and get the ball rolling. But after a rather lengthy, rambling meeting, my reps just looked at Mr. Bigshot Producer—no, sorry, I have a new name for this guy: Mr. Wannabe Loser—and they said, “Why are you wasting our time?” No, really, that’s what they said. See, he suddenly wasn’t quite so keen on producing my scripts. Oh, he still liked them both very much, but he had absolutely no intention of actually plunking down any kind of option money. No, now he’s got other projects he’d rather work of them being a historical drama. OK, so lemme see if I’ve got this straight. This fella is all hot and heavy over my two scripts...and he thinks they’d make bang-up movies...and he’s got all sorts of money to spend...and all sorts of ideas about shooting locations and casting...and he flies all the way out here specifically to meet with my people and talk business. But wait! Now he suddenly wants to produce some low budget movie about Mary, Queen of Scots? Wow, what a nut. Worse yet, he’s a time-wasting nut. Actually, I halfway expected this. Yes, I’ve experienced this sort of thing before. Fact is, there are people in this world who desperately want to be part of the film industry. They want to have the meetings, the lengthy creative discussions, they want to boast about all the money they have (or have access to), and they want to tell their golfing buddies: “Hey, look at me, I’m working on this movie!” But when push comes to shove, they turn tail and run, scampering back to their little hovel—or as in this case, their plush estate on some island back east. Excuse my censored French, but f*ck him. Onward and upward. He can stick ol’ Mary, Queen of Scots up his rear end for all I care. Anyway, I have a meeting with my reps next week and we’re gonna come up with other avenues on these two scripts. Welcome to Hollywood, boys and girls.


PART ONE: My reps recently made a connection with a producer who was on the hunt for solid, producible screenplays. He wasn’t looking for anything uber-budget with exotic locations and a cast of thousands. No, he wanted stories—preferably in the horror and thriller genres—that could be shot relatively low budget. That means few locations, a handful of actors and no outrageous FX. Well, I just happen to have scripts that meet those criteria. So my reps sent this gentleman two of my scripts: one a creepy horror story and the other a psychological thriller. A few days later, the producer calls and says he’s just read the thriller. He thinks it’s fantastic; it fits perfectly into what he wants to do. In fact, he’s so enthused he’s already discussing production possibilities. A couple days after that, he calls and says he loves the horror script. He says—so I’m told—he “got the chills” as he was reading it. I’m also told he’s very enthused and very much wants to get both scripts off the ground as soon as possible. In fact, he’s coming to Los Angeles in a week or so for a meeting with my reps. They’ll all get to know each other face-to-face and, hopefully, hammer out some sort of initial deal. Well, this is all very nice and hopefully it all works out, but I’ve been through this sort of thing before and know very well that—good intentions aside—it can all evaporate in the blink of an eye. But my reps have a good feeling about this one. I told them, “I’ll feel good about it when paperwork is signed and I’m able to cash a check.” That’s when you know it’s real. Until then, it’s all talk, talk, talk. So, we’ll see. I’ll keep ya posted on any progress.

PART TWO: Some of you might recall an October 2007 blog entry about a table-read I had on a sexy-thriller I was hired to write. Well, the producers have just started sending the script out to “the money people.” Of course, we all hope these initial money people have sense enough to know a really terrific script when they read one, and that they’ll jump on board and write a check. Alas, that’s not how it works 98.7% of the time in this town. This sending the script out to potential investors can, and probably will, drag on and on for at least a handful of months. After all, they might find a funding source that’ll put in the first half of the budget rather quickly, then it takes a loooong time to find a funding source that’ll put in the other half. This could drag on for a year...or two...or three. Then finally, after about five years of madness, my producers will say something like, “Sorry, Jim, nobody wants to see your script gate made. Please go away and never darken our doorstep again.” OK, so I’m being just a bit dramatic there. But really, this is a nifty script and, given the right production support, it’ll make a hot thriller. It’s gonna sell....and if it takes two or three years, that’s what it takes. After all, this is the movie business.


OK, strike’s over, everyone back to work.

Actually, I’ve never really stopped working. I’ve been going pretty much full-strength since the first of the year, writing, rewriting, taking notes for future projects, and reading a bunch of great scripts. many of you used the strike as an excuse to not do a bloody thing? I know some of you said, “I’m not doing anything until the strike is over.” I actually met a guy two weeks ago who told me, “I’ve been kicking back the last couple months, waiting for the strike to end.” why exactly did he do this? He wasn’t even a member of the WGA! Don’t get me wrong, I admire his support of the Guild—if indeed that’s what it was— but c’mon. (I should point out that this particular writer had completed just three unsold/un-optioned screenplays since he began writing in 1999.)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years of screenwriting, it’s this: Don’t waste time. (Actually, this is just plain great advice for life in general.) This might seem obvious to most of you, but you might be surprised by how many people fail to heed this bit of advice.

If you’re still trying to learn what this whole screenwriting thing is all about, you should be reading some good how-to books, reading some great pro screenplays and, of course, slapping your own words down on paper.

If you’ve got a hot idea for a screenplay, it’s not going to write itself. You’ve got to come up with ideas, sketch ‘em out, plot, plan, and get it all poured into solid script form.

If you’ve written a script that you think is really hot, don’t merely send out a few queries and then sit around waiting for the phone to ring. It won’t.

You need to get your face out of your computer screen, get out into the world and make things happen. You’ve got to send e-mails, make phone calls, mingle, schmooze and meet folks in the film industry. This has got to be your way of life on a consistent basis. Sure, this all takes time, effort and a heavy dose of creativity, but that’s what your screenwriting career is all about. If you’re not prepared to do these things, you probably need to find a vocation that better suits you. Not everyone in the world is meant to write movies. But if screenwriting is what you want in life, you now have one less excuse for not getting things done.

The strike is over...get cracking.

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