Saturday, May 27, 2006

Chronicles 22 - Cannes 2006 - Serendipity Rules!

Hi there! Just got back from Cannes after an enduring 50 meetings in 6 days. Phew. I need a holiday after this. I'm all pitched out! Still, on one level I think it was my best Cannes ever. I got to see mostly everyone I wanted to see - banks, financiers, prod. co.'s, sales agents, distributors and some indie-studio labels such as Miramax and Fox Searchlight. A couple of companies cancelled but I can pick those meetings up in the UK. One plus of companies cancelling is that they are generally apologetic and go the extra distance to re-schedule.

Remember that previous post where I said I'd never gotten a worthwhile contact at a party? Well, I lied. I went to an early evening party on the beach and I actually met some very useful contacts. Still, I maintain that the most productive meetings are during the day where your project is less likely to be wiped out of the exec's memory banks by lashings of alcohol.

I was munching a few snacks at the party when I met a very nice lady who was a film commissioner in California. She told me that the film commissioners are part of a worldwide association and introduced me to a UK film commissioner who I had tried to hook up with via email. She was very interested in helping out with my projects and will initially help out with a short film I'm shooting in September. Cool.

Okay, onto deeper levels of the Cannes serendipity syndrome. I have an offer out to a well known UK name right now. The script had already been submitted to his agent before I left for the festival. I was sitting on the Carlton Hotel terrace reading the trades and saw that he was in Cannes. An hour or two later I'm in the middle of a meeting and realize that this same actor is sitting down right next to me! After finishing off the meeting I "seize the day" and introduce myself to him and tell him the script is with his agent. He's very friendly, we shake hands and he tells me he's looking forward to reading the script. Of course I'm not letting this one go easily so I phone his agent's assistant who predictably has not read the script yet and tell her that I have met the actor. She fires off a few questions about the finance and she says she needs an extension on the offer and wants me to email more details on the project, (which she has already!).

Then about an hour later I walk into a lift, turn round and realize that Sydney Pollack is standing next to me. Just me and him. So I introduce myself and we have a brief exchange as he heads up to his "suite" on the 6th floor. My meeting was on the first floor, but hey, I thought I'd take the ride up with my mate Sydney!

A day later I spot a big 5 LA agency packaging agent in the Carlton lobby. I recognized his face from the Cannes database and I had tried to email him for a meeting but he never responded so, again, I "seized the day" and introduced myself to him. He remembered my email and was very friendly and we agreed to follow up our conversation via email. From this quick meet and greet I will probbaly get a face-to-face meeting in LA as I did with another LA agent who I bumped into last year.

All in all, a good Cannes but of course it's all on the follow-up and the response to the script and "the package". I also had an animation company who was interested in one of my animation pitches. We'll meet up in London in 2 weeks. They want me to write up a 10 page treatment from my basic concept which I conceived with an animation artist. I also have a few people interested in me as a writer for rewrite work. Again, all sounds nice but I've been here before. Let's see how the cookie crumbles. Right now I have 50 follow-up emails to write and have scripts to send out, (thank God for .pdf files!).

Au revoir et Bonne chance! See Chronicles 21

Monday, May 15, 2006

Chronicles 21 - Keep them wagons rollin'!

The Cannes campaign is going well. So far I have 41 meetings in 5 days lined up. Just bagged 2 with Fox Searchlight and Miramax. Of course it's quality not quantity that counts but after looking at my itinerary for last year things seem to be looking a lot better on the quality front.

This time I have meetings with some serious prod. co.'s, sales agents, distributors and financiers. Interesting, now that I have more attracted or "attached" to my project e.g financiers, co-producers, respected casting director etc I am now being taken more seriously and getting higher level meetings or basically meeting requests from people who would have ignored me before. Of course I haven't quite got my grubby, sweaty producer hands on that elusive Holy Grail - the omnipotent, door opening, passport to film heaven - the - in hushed, reverent tones - bankable star attachment.

My offer to a highly bankable lead lapsed the other day. Upshot, his agent or whoever does the coverage in this UK agency has not even read the script yet. So forget about the star reading the script, the agent, no the friggin' cleaning lady hasn't read it yet!I could wait of course, months probably but we decided to move on. I sent an offer letter out to another bankable star. Let's see where that one goes. Spoke to his office today and they told me they would read the script this weekend while I'm soaking up the sun in Cannes.

Meanwhile back at the ranch I ventured to take a look at my latest opus, namely about 85 pages of a first draft Heist comedy. I've actually pitched this baby to a number of Hollywood prod. co's to an enthusiastic response. You would have thought that would have really fired me up to write the darned thing quickly so I could submit it ASAP. Not so. I've been finding it an uphill battle. I guess it's the research factor. I know this isn't the sort of script that I can just write off the top of my head based on "the author's autobiographical experiences". With this I need to go and read a whole bunch of books, go on the net etc and of course there is the pressure, (manufactured in my own head), of feeling I have to write something "smart" and "original" - a "fresh and original twist on the genre".

If feels like a bit of a mountain to climb so I've been kind of avoiding it and when I actually did get round to writing the script it's been a bit like pulling teeth with that nagging voice in my head saying, "this is a piece of bovine excrement". Anyway, I've managed to force a first draft, of sorts, out of myself and couldn't even face reading it.

I picked it up on Sunday and started reading it. Surprisingly, it didn't read too badly, I only read a few pages, but it actually made me laugh - which is good - it is supposed to be a comedy after all. I also found myself jotting down new ideas as I read through the pages. It's that onion thing. I've peeled off the first layer and now I have to peel off more layers to get to the core of this beast.

Of course I've been here before. I thought the first draft of my rom-com was terrible, embarrassing, cringe-worthy. It was the same with my first script, but, somehow, I managed to trawl through this creative treacle and produce something of worth. It's a mysterious process that you have to trust and kind of, "go with". There are no shortcuts and no guarantees.

So, now I have to finish the script and hopefully take it to the next level i.e characters that actually have a clear goal, that conflict with each other and that are three dimensional. At the moment it's all a bit foggy. Still - have to trust the process and keep moving.

Keep on truckin'! See Chronicles 20