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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.

Monday, July 11, 2005

One of Those Nice Calls

Got a call from a friend the other tonight, he just signed on to direct a feature, they want to be in production in the fall. Script needs work, he wants me to do the production re-write. He emailed me the script two days ago, and I'm meeting producer and head of production company with the director end of week to discuss my take and potential hire. Love that.

Don't know how frequently that happens to other working writers out there. For me, that kind of call from a friend in the driver's seat, is unusual and awesome. Sometimes the studio recommends you, says you're the go-to guy, and you meet and greet the director and producer to see how it feels, but they may not like your take, or your price. Sometimes you get a script, come up with a take, meet on the take, be one of several writers, and wait to see which way the tree falls. Sometimes you chase a job, it's a studio idea, you develop a take, maybe again you're one of several, and you pitch, and again you wait and...the head of the studio and half the exec. change jobs that week, and the project is scrapped and ...you see what I mean.

Point is, it's rarely easy.

Makes me think on how there are three tiers of professional screenwriting.

1) production re-write work, very intense, very fast, film is going into production and the script needs work, original writer falls out of favor, deals made quickly with new wrier, work required very quickly.

2) Standard re-write, adaptation, or original concept writing. Multiple meetings, multiple pitches, adjustments, notes on pitches, this can all take weeks and months until you get into the meeting that could close the deal. Then if you make the sale a long drawn out writing period begins which always starts sweetly because you're all alone and haven't handed anything in yet, and then it's the development mill for months and months, and potentially years (I've done that on one Paramount project. Watched a senior exec's kids grow up).

3) The third is the spec. script, your timetable, but still a damn lot of work to nail it and make it right, just no one is watching you, so you'd better be damn well disciplined. And stop talking so much about it and just do it. All that talking dissipates energy.

Point is, it's often a lot of work just to get the work. And so often it takes a great deal of time.

So to get this call, well this is particularly sweet.


Blogger The Moviequill said...

variation on Type 1: the Script Doctor who works under the gun on set, flown in last minute for a lovely $5000 per hour

Tuesday, July 12, 2005  

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