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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.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Real Hollywood

Got a call today. From a good friend of mine. Those of you who have read this blog for a while remember I was courted for a good gig back in autumn, at a high profile company, academy award winners. My friend is directing a thriller that has been green-lit by this independent financially solvent company (dependent on a good polish), the script needed a polish, he wanted me for the job.

That's a great set up, by the way. Couldn't be much better going in.

So I had a great meeting with the head of the company, and the head producer. They loved me. Then lost the job to another writer. My sample script they read wasn't perfect for the job, the other guy had one that nailed it.

Fine. It happens. Just another story in the big city. Another road kill on the job possibilities of life.

I had forgotten about it.

Until my friend called a few days ago. The director. The script came in beginning of the week, and it's awful. He's really upset. So he wanted me for the job again. Then he called back. The company has no money for any more writers. I shared my sympathies and offered a shoulder to cry on.

But could I look at it? And maybe offer some ideas? On four scenes? As it falls to him to cut and paste and write the thing back into shape? Why not - I love this guy, he really is a good friend. Sure I said today, I'll be glad to help you. "Great, I'll send you the script, I have to hand it in tomorrow," he says.


Welcome to Hollywood. Ready to go in and get paid for a good gig, don't get it, and now working for free and up all night on the same gig so my friend won't lose his film. You've got to love this shit, or it will drive you insane.


Blogger Bill Cunningham said...

My brother, we stand shoulder to shoulder on this one. Been there. Done that. Have the t-shirt and the scars from the IV to prove it.

What's even worse is when you sweat this blood and get the script ready to shoot by putting yourself in the hospital, then when you see the dailies you notice that whole scenes have been dropped from the script to make the schedule.

And then they ask for two reshoot days to put back the stuff they took out to make their days...

Friday, January 13, 2006  
Blogger Martine said...

"Great, I'll send you the script, I have to hand it in tomorrow," he says."

Oh god. I'm laughing but I don't know if I should.

It's reassuring though to see that this kind of stuff also happens to more experienced people.

Saturday, January 14, 2006  
Blogger Philip Morton said...

Yes - as a friend of mine has said, who works at the top levels (has written a film for spielberg under his belt), "As you work with more successful people it doesn't get any easier, but you'll drive a nicer car."

Saturday, January 14, 2006  
Blogger Ken Levine said...

I assume when they film this that you will be barred from the set. It's only right.


Saturday, January 14, 2006  
Blogger shecanfilmit said...

Ha Ha! I don't feel so bad about writing a treatment for free over a weekend (a few years ago). I did not get the job, but I learned some things.

Hope you keep blogging...

Sunday, January 15, 2006  
Blogger Fun Joel said...

Sucks, but you're doing a good thing for a friend. The karma'll get you back! :-)

Monday, January 16, 2006  
Blogger Philip Morton said...

bill: yes, the scars are the notches on the belt. Are there film pants without a belt?
ken: Being barred from the set shows you're doing something right...or...no that just means you're in the film biz.
funjoel: you know, I'm genuinely doing it for the challenge and to help a friend. I truly believe the energy of a good attitude is returned over and over.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006  

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