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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, August 04, 2006

The Meeting Mill

This week I've taken meetings at one major production co. at Universal, Silver Pictures at WB, John Davis Co, and another major prod. co. at Paramount.


So what did I learn in the gossip mill?

1) That everyone thinks Dreamworks is the trojan horse that will devour Paramount. As one exec. put it, at Paramount with the new regime in place, there is still no clear 'there' there. No clear mandate. No clear take on what a 'Paramount Movie' is right now. So people aren't bringing them big projects. They're shopping big projects elsewhere first. Like - to Dreamworks.

2) Much chatter about the Broder Webb devouring of ICM's TV department. Well, more truly the surgical replacement of ICM's TV department with Broder Webbs'. The feature side will be a merging of the titans. As one exec. put it - two tanks of sharks, put in bucket of chum, serve, enjoy. (I'm glad I was repped at Broder Webb, and coming in to new digs)

3) Mandate from one head of studio: no more arab bad guys. No more Iraq war narrative. Geo-political global marketplace feedback is getting sensitive to it. This specifically altered one big project already in development at this studio, and pretty much tanked something that had been pitched to me that I was working on. Wow. That one hurts. So much for freedom of expression. Freedom of commerce doesn't seem to permit it.

4) There is now the $35 million movie, and the $150 million dollar movie. But there really isn't anything inbetween. Very serious discussion about this in one meeting on potential project. Very savy prod. exec. was pointing out our effects shots and casting made a potential adaptation of a soon to be published book a $65M picture, which was no longer a category. You're either in the lower budget block with acceptable demographics non-star driven vehicle and predictable returns. Or you're in the star driven tent pole movie which shoots for the moon and every potential cross over.

Also endlessly fascinating - the same EXACT pitch got a luke warm response in one room, and a bowled over cartwheel inducing effect in a different room.

This is the upside of meetings. In the cartwheel room the feedback was rather joyous to my reps. Which means I've generated a fan merely by showing up. That's the value of meetings. Passion, enthusiasm, good story telling always wins the day. Whether or not the initial project survives, proactive action and continued attention could create new opportunity. And in this changing marketplace - one less friendly than it has been - the savy writer needs to always be conscious of creating new opportunity, new fans, new champions. Don't leave it soley to anyone else to find the job for you. Be diligent, be creative, be proactive, be positive. As Lawrence Kasdan once said: 'be the hero of your own life."


Blogger wcdixon said...

Great stuff Mr. Morton...very informative and entertaining.

Friday, August 04, 2006  
Anonymous Laura Reyna said...

Yeah, great post. Love all the inside dish stuff.

Wish more pro writers would give a bit more detail re the daily grind of working in the biz: went here, met with so & so, got this reaction, they said this, they said that, didn't buy it cuz_________, etc...



Friday, August 04, 2006  

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