Friday, December 22, 2006

Chronicles 37 - Don't Look Back in Anger

It's that time of year again. A time to review, ruminate, re-assess, reflect and other words beginning with R (hopefully NOT regret and remorse! ;-))

It's also the time where I go through my Outlook Address Book and send out Xmas e-cards to film contacts. Of course many of the names on this list are agents, managers, producers, execs, sales agents, casting directors etc who've passed on my projects or who have never responded to my script submissions or who have responded but were very critical or just didn't 'get it'.

Some of the names are people I've met with who were gushingly enthusiastic in the pitch meeting but then, despite various promptings, not only never read the script but never responded to the follow-up emails. All those meetings that held such promise of future possibilities and opportunities that more often than not came to nothing, all that 'death by encouragement'. "Curse missed opportunities" as the Coldplay song says or as Bowie sings in Changes, "Every time I thought I had it made, it seemed the taste was not so sweet".

One or two of the people on the list are just jerks, for want of a better word, like one guy I pitched in Cannes, who, in the middle of a meeting kept on scanning the tables and on seeing a more 'useful' contact darted off to do some glad handing and then came back to the table to continue the obviously, LOW priority meeting with me.

But hey, this is Christmas and a time of forgiveness and sending a cute little e-card is a way of saying, "Dude, it's not personal, let's puff on the peace pipe for 2007". 'cause it's a small world and you never know when your paths will cross again.

Sending out Xmas greetings is also a nice way to remind people that you are still in the land of the living and plugging away. I was toying with the idea of attaching some sort of progress report to the card but then I thought to myself, "Nah, keep it pure and simple, no agendas. Happy Xmas is Happy Xmas." Still, for next year I aim to have a web site ready and just slip the URL in the e-card if people want to check the site out.

I was looking at my goal list for 2006, and of course due to the whims and vagaries of this business, many of these goals haven't been fulfilled. I was hoping to get a UK/US agent/manager this year. Didn't happen. I would have liked to have at least attached one star to my rom-com by now. Didn't happen. I was hoping to get something in writing re. the animation project. Didn't happen etc etc.

Still, looking back at 2006, in general, it's been a good year.

I finally secured a US casting director with a good reputation who totally believes in the rom-com script and the director. She is very excited about going out to the big US agencies to attach top talent to the project. The big plus here is that because she and her partner believe in the script they are willing to work on spec.

This has taken some time. I started approaching UK casting directors last summer ('05) and after finding one who was kind of on board but (as it turned out) not really, I started approaching US casting directors again this summer ('06) and through a contact I met in Cannes I managed to get this casting director on board 6 months later.

What else?

I spoke to the producer of the biographical drama yesterday and we just went over some micro points in the contract that I was uncomfortable with. We should be clearing this up soon and I'll sign after Xmas. I could have signed this a while back but I didn't want to scribble my name on something that I might regret later. In any case I had to make some compromises but there has been give and take on both sides and it's been good practice in the art of negotiation. All in all it's turned out cheaper doing the bulk of the negotiation myself and using a lawyer than having an agent do the deal.

I also spoke to the animation producer who thinks we've done a great job on the animation treatment but also has some notes (=more re-writing), which, I'm okay with in principle but I'm starting to feel I'd like to see some commitment from their side i.e. at least an option to take this off the open market.

The other high point of 2006 was finally seeing one of my scripts shot on film, albeit a short one. I haven't seen it yet because I'm back in Europe but the director and D.O.P. says it looks great. It's just being synced for sound at the moment and hopefully it'll work out that we get this top editor to cut it together.

All 3 projects, the biog drama, animation and the short film, (as well as securing the US casting director) resulted out of first time meetings in Cannes 2006 i.e. producers I cold called which blows the whole, "it's all about who you know" myth out of the water, in my case at least. Actually, I've never believed in this myth. If you have a script that clearly blows I doubt that it will ever get made just because you're well connected. (Okay, I guess there are always exceptions to this). Still, for mere mortals like us who are not born into Hollywood royalty or related to/friends with a big movie star/mogul/producer I prefer Steven Soderbergh's 'luck equals talent and perseverance' formula.

Apart from that I'm still waiting back on the theatre project - an adaption of a play I had staged this year in a local theatre which was a lot of fun to work on.

I also managed to painfully extract a very bad first draft of a Heist comedy I'm working on. That script needs a lot of work and I had a tough time writing it, mainly because of plot. I know I can get the characters to work in time but plot is just such friggin' hard work sometimes. Once I'm done with the biog drama I'll go back to it. It's strange because people loved the pitch so I can get this to a lot of people when it's done but I also seemed to be blocked. I guess a fear of failure that the script won't live up to the pitch. Hopefully I can return to it with fresh inspiration in the new year.

That's it for 2006. I doubt if I'll have anything major to blog in the next week so Merry Xmas (or Happy Holidays) and all the best for 2007!