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Stories from a seasoned screenwriter. Take heart! Your creative source is infinite and un-ending. Sometimes Hollywood just rips up the roadmap back to it. The bottom line is that Hollywood is not at all as bad as it sounds. Additionally, it's worse than you can imagine. Remember to pack a sense of humor.


I am a screenwriter living in Southern California. I've written screenplays for most of the Hollywood studios over the past 20 years. One of the uncredited writers of FANTASTIC FOUR, I wrote FIRE DOWN BELOW starring Steven Seagal, and the TV Movie 12:01 PM starring Martin Landau and MANEATER with Gary Busey. I have directed short films. I have written on numerous Hollywood studio assignments, some for big shot actors, some for small shot nobodies.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Complications Ensue

This is not just the clever title of a blog by Alex Epstein who wrote the how-to writing book Crafty Screenwriting, it's also what happens every time anyone creative gets involved with a movie deal.

And it's just happened to me.

For those of you who've been reading, you're aware I'm up for a production re-write, a major motion picture, good budget, excellent production company (they won an academy award last year), and the director wants me for the job.

Pretty good, right? You might say, things couldn't be better, stars couldn't be better aligned for a job, and so forth. And I had a very good creative meeting with them last week as well.

Except they read one of my new scripts over the weekend and didn't like the woman character in it. So now they're not sure I can write a "woman". It's a woman lead in the film, by the way, and they just got burned on the last writer. He originally wrote a leading man, they asked it be changed to a woman for the next draft - and the writing team did, but they basically changed the character description, but didn't change the character. So the producers are a little skittish over there about that happening again, I guess.

You know, this is the part they don't teach you in film school, and thank God. Film making is so hard to begin with - who would want to imagine how hard it is just to get into that small group that actually gets to do any film making?

Well, my agents just sent over a different script. In the end the script is king - and they have to be moved when they read your material. But enthusiasm and passion play an important role - I was full of that in the meeting, and they loved it, it won that day. And I just filled my agent with it, and now my agent is blasting it their way.

And soon, we'll see where it all falls. I'm on the weekend read.


Blogger Matt Reynolds said...

It must be odd to be in a situation where, based on one character, they assume you might not be able to write women.

At that stage don't you just want to show them some other work where you have written female roles effectively?

Thursday, July 21, 2005  
Blogger Philip Morton said...

Matt: Yes, this is the incredible superficial part of Hollywood that is incredibly real and potentially deal breaking - or flip it and it's deal making. Love affairs bloom and bust in hours, or weeks, but if your lucky, last the length of development, and in this case production. "You're only as good as your last draft" is a saying out here that is very true. (Of course insert ANY ITEM here for just about any business and it might hold true. No joke, the "cake lady" who made the wedding cake for my wife and I - 11 years ago, said 'you're only as good as your last cake, honey!'). So yes, you shoot off additional material to answer potential problems, and hope the luster of that first glow of excitement hasn't already been too dimmed. Thankfully, I feel the door is still opened, but...we'll just have to see. This is a side of the business they don't teach in film school. Good film to rent: RIDICULE, a French film placed during the time of Louis the XVI, and shows how the only way to ascend to power and get royal attention and therefore $$ was by one's sheer wit - sharp toungued banter was admired above all - and newcomers could shoot to the top and sit with the king in a matter of weeks, while others had been struggling to do so for years with no success. But in the king's presence, one wrong joke, one humorous line that fell flat, and you were OUT, literally, and your access was denied. Hmmm... It's not quite as incindiery in Hollywood, but similar rules apply to the response to one's work. Stress management, anyone?

Thursday, July 21, 2005  
Blogger writergurl said...

Talk about needing a rhino hide. It's beyond ridiculous to assume that being one gender means that one can't write the other gender. After all, none of us live in a world totally devoid of the opposite gender, even if you're gay, you still have to interact with the opposite gender. As a writer, one of our most useful tools has to be our ability to observe and note other people's behavior (along with the odd occasion of casual evesdropping for "real" dialogue). Presuming that you can't "write a woman" is the equivalent of assuming that you are not only dumb, but deaf and blind as well.

Thursday, July 21, 2005  
Blogger The Moviequill said...

good luck again... I hear that if you CAN write for the power women actresses out there, the road is paved with gold right now

Friday, July 22, 2005  

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