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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, January 19, 2006

The Long Haul

Hollywood is still a gold rush kind of town. You can hit gold here immediately, or dig for 20 years and then hit gold, or hit gold in the middle and run out, etc. Life turns on a dime all the time here and no one knows what to expect - or what to tell you what to expect - but you'd better expect to have one thing if you're going to succeed, or at the very least survive with as few angina-like chest episodes as possible:


"Hurry up and wait" is still a big part of Hollywood, even when things are moving in your favor. When they're not, it's like watching ice ages come and go before you feel anything significant happens.

So for those of you starting out, prepare for a long haul, it'll be easier on you later.

And for those of you already in the long haul, like a wagon train headed across the country, you know where-of I speak. And for those of you who can't cope with the process, you might as well leave the wagon train right now and make a claim and start growing wheat.

I wrote a script years ago, it was my second one that I sold as a solo writer (I had colloborated with two partners before that on different projects which brought me out to Hollywood).

This script got a great reaction then, was picked up by a studio with top director/producer team, but was never made, and has subsequentally come back into my hands. It has then been set up again (at high profile independent company) then returned to me, set up with talent for me to direct (Kevin Pollack) with independent financing, then the funding never came together. Then years later set up again with talent for me to direct (Nathan Lane), with major independent studio, then the funding fell through. And now I was just told today by the current producer that the script has just gotten the attention of a very significant talent (I have released myself on director this time around), who may set up the project on their marqui value alone. Exhausted yet? That took 14 years so far. Who says it's over?

That's what I'm talking about. You're not just writing long form product in Hollywood as a screenwriter, your life is a long-form product and you need to have some very nice stress management tools to deal with that.

I'm just saying.


Blogger Fun Joel said...

Wow. If you don't mind, I'd love to hear what kind of deals you've had on the previous takes. Have you been making money off the script all along, via the various options, etc?

If you don't want to talk about it, I understand.

But besides, I definitely realize that it ain't as good or as much as if the damned thing were finally in production. Just curious. Good luck!

Friday, January 20, 2006  
Blogger James Lincoln Warren said...

"The strongest of all warriors are these two: time and patience."


Friday, January 20, 2006  
Blogger MaryAn Batchellor said...

So, the first time around, people on the set carried around transistor radios and talked on walkie talkies and faxed script changes to each other. Now they'll carry iPods and flip phones and text message script changes. Wonder what fourteen years does to props, staging, and costumes.

Friday, January 20, 2006  

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