Chronicles 9 - Post-Cannes - Ups, Downs and 'Radio Silence'
June 21st 2002
Get an email from one UK producer saying that he would like to option the rom-com. He hasn't produced a feature before so I'm not so sure. Still, encouraging!
June 24th 2002
Receive another email from this same UK producer. He read my other co-written script, said it was very well written and wants me to offer me a write-for-hire contract. Great! Well, not really, nothing ever came of this.
June 25th 2002
Phoned the one-man-band UK agent. He thinks the rom-com is 'super'.
Despite the encouraging news I was feeling pretty down. I felt that I'd entered a post-Cannes 'radio silence' phase. No news from most of the major companies I had pitched. I didn't really have anyone with any 'clout' or finance behind me at this point.
June 28th 2002
I get an email back from another UK producer that he was, 'enjoying my script'. I start to summarize the feedback I've received from the female agent and the UK producer who offered to option the rom-com.
July 4th 2002
I speak to the female UK agent. She says that she's been thinking of me and considering everything I have been doing re. Cannes etc. I may get frustrated at the way she works. She said that 'representing me would take a lot of work since I have a high coverage rate and she doesn't work like that'. Fair enough. Still, we left it that I would send her a re-write of the rom-com. She also said that thing were going 'amazingly well anyway' and that 'it would happen for me'. She forgot to mention when ;-)
July 8th 2002
I started working on the third draft of the rom-com using feedback from the one agent and one UK producer. Did a lot of phone chasing. It's already July and most of the Cannes contacts haven't got back to me.
July 9th 2002
Another German animation company who was loved the idea of my children's TV project said she couldn't move forward with the project because of, 'internal changes'.
July 17th 2002
I'd had the idea to write a drama set in Northern Ireland and started researching its troubled history. I found myself in Belfast through my day gig and went for a tour of the trouble spots. It was quite an eye-opener to see all the places I'd seen on the evening news all those years when I was growing up. The Shankhill Estate was the most shocking aspect for me. The whole estate was a sort of para-military shrine. Apparently, you can only buy a house on the estate if it's sanctioned by the para-milataries. It was fascinating, in a morbid, screwed-up-history kind of way.
22nd July 2002
Went to London. Met the UK one-man-band agent with an office off Oxford St. A very nice old chap. He wants to represent me. Encouraging, although I get the feeling he's not very connected. He doesn't give me any notes apart from cut 20 pages off the script. I think he's someone who would work with me as a 'producer'.
The female agent felt a lot more connected and literary and filmcally-aware to me. Her notes were very good, but, she wouldn't have really pushed my other projects and I would have to surrender to her way of working. I was on a different trajectory so I kind of called it a day with her. She was encouraging, said I was talented and had no doubt I would write and produce many pojects. Mmmh...
25th June 2002
Development executive from US/German LA based company phones me and says she wants to make a live-action movie out of the children's TV project. Great! She'll pitch the idea to her boss.
2nd August 2002
I start writing 1st person biographies of the characters. This helps me understand their motivations more.
5th August 2002
Get an email from the female agent that the US/German prod. co. interested in making the live-action script has gone into liquidation. Great.
23rd August 2002
A UK prod. co. passes. By now I've had a few passes or have been told I need to attach a director and finance to my projects.
30th August 2002
Finished cutting down the 3rd draft of the rom-com script to 110 pages.
5th September 2002
Sent 3rd draft of rom-com to a US agent.
11th September 2002
A UK producer who has good finance and industry contacts and who has produced a medium budget UK indie emailed me to say he was interested in co-producing my rom-com project. Great news! This was one of the major goals of me going to the Cannes film festival.
My UK agent is pleased with my 3rd draft, although sometimes I feel like that Groucho Marx quote:
"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as Members". i.e. He can't be a very good agent if he wants to represent me.
Still, he's a lovely old chap. He loves all my projects and is sending my work out there. I just get the feeling he doesn't represent many writers, it's not his bread and butter, and is not very connected. Still, for now it's good to say I have an agent.
16th September 2002
I met my UK co-producer. It was a positive meeting. We got on well. He sees the project as very commercial and has some Hollywood contacts that he would like to draw on. Great! I should be in production in a few months, right? Wrong.
3rd October 2002
Started developing a pitch for my new script. A family comedy. Planning on flying to LA in November.
9th October 2002
I start my Los Angeles campaign. I emailed agents, managers, studios, mini-studios, the big animation studios like Sony, Disney, WB, Fox Animation etc.
Response was slow initially. The UK producer doesn't seem to be doing much. Seems to have followed up with a couple of sales agents that I contacted in Cannes. He's started giving me some input into who I should see in LA. The main advantage here is that, since he has produced a movie, he gives me some credibility. He's also helping to set up a meeting for me with a mini-major.
Sod the damn email campaign. I need to hit the phones! I prepare a phone list of contacts to hit and prepare a phone pitch. I write down responses to difficult questions. I act out my phone pitches.
A young, German production company I met with in Cannes who really liked my rom-com have presented the project to the head of a German film fund.
I start the phone campaign. It's working. I have a meeting booked with Sony Animation and a smaller animation company in Burbank. By the end of the week I have meeting booked with a whole number of studios and production companies! See Chronicles 8