Friday, September 11, 2009

Chronicles 71 - It's a Marathon...

In the realm of creativity life is fluid, unpredictable, messy. Conversations and activities often seemingly lead to--well--nothing. It is a veritable flux of instincts and intuition. Creativity involves people, and people are fickle, moody, capricious. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call, a face to face, some choice words, a different perspective to turn things around. In an earlier post I talked about my LONG journey in finding a UK producer to partner up with my US producer on my black comedy and FINALLY (hail the sound of trumpets!), a couple of months back, after a meeting with my director, one producer said YES albeit with reservations: he felt (rightly as it turns out) that the script needed more work.

This commitment took about one year to nail down after having had ca. 50 producers read and pass on my script along with a whole bunch of meetings (of the 'close but no cigar' variety) and one other producer who committed and then a few days later, well, uncommitted. However this activity did expand my network and I met producers who liked my writing and are interested in future projects of mine and one producer wants me to rewrite a script (albeit when he gets his development funding through). So 'always look on the bright side of life' as the song goes.

I rewrote the black comedy script in 3 days, and got an email back a week later with a thumbs up--he liked the revision. Actually, it's a good thing he pushed for it as the director and I feel the script is in great shape now. The protag's arc and narrative spine is a lot clearer so now I'm waiting to set up the follow up call to take things to the next step.

The ebb and flow of the various projects I have on the go is quite interesting. Sometimes it seems that all the projects are pushing forward and I think to myself, Okay, one of these is bound to go soon, but then all of a sudden EVERYTHING goes dormant. Everything. Simultaneously! It's weird.

I delivered the revison on the book adaptation 3 weeks ago and the UK producer still hasn't found a window in his schedule to read it and even though the other UK producer sent a short email nearly 2 weeks ago with a quick congrats on my black comedy revision I'm still waiting for his call so we can move forward to the next stage. Also, on my rom-com, we decided that we needed to focus on getting a sales agent on board so my LA producer has been pursuing that, but, again, radio silence on that front. It is strange how everything moves in waves. Then again, since the day job has also been relatively quiet I've been grateful for the downtime.

Back to the rom-com. The casting director has gone out to some quiet big names but we've had no bites so we decided to switch strategy. One has to be very careful in attaching names to a project. The danger is that you attract an actor or group of actors that will not generate the necessary amount of sales estimates in order to recoup on the budget. Having a sales agent on board first, although not easy, can not only help in targeting the right talent but it can also give you an idea if your budget level is realistic. My director met with my line producer a few weeks ago and they both are comforable with working to a smaller budget on a tighter schedule if necessary. So, right now I'm waiting back to see if my LA producer can leverage some of his personal contacts to get a sales agent on board.

The LA producer also approached me with a true-life story, a sort of 60's crime caper, that I was very enthusiastic about adapting but securing all the rights might be a bit tricky because of other family members, a book not controlled by the subject who has had a legal conflict with the author etc. I'm leaving it to the LA producer to work out. If he pulls off the rights acquisition all well and good, if not, well...whatever. That jaded (or is it realistic) vein in me gets deeper and wider as the years go on and the concept of the imminent deal where a project, in white heat-like frenzy gets propelled from script to screen, in lightning time, is rapidly becoming a tale told by tooth fairies.

I know some projects do get fast tracked into production but I don't personally know anyone who has had this experience, although I do have a friend who sold a spec recently which landed in the trades (after years of hard work knocking out script after script and after going through a number of Hollywood managers).

I do have friends who are experiencing progress such as landing US representation along with producers who are packaging their scripts with talent and some are up for assignments etc, but, so far, from my POV, it's looking like a marathon. I personally don't know anyone (including myself!) who has attached a major star to a project. Progress yes, but nothing is moving into production. Also the word from the trenches is that no-one is buying, studio output has been slashed and is mainly restricted to comic book tent poles etc...

Still, I'm pushing on, although I'm not really planning on writing another spec script next year. I pushed back on yet another comission offer as well, too much workload, so my aim is to deliver on all my commissioned assignments (revisions, completion of drafts) which is three projects in total. That will mean that I will have 5 projects in development with 4 producers (2 in the UK and 2 in the US) and unless something else turns up on the script front (e.g. an interesting assignment from another source) I would rather execute the spec idea as a novel rather than a script. I'd also like to write a bunch of short stories. It's all part of a stronger urge to write prose rather than constantly chipping away at the screenwriting seam, a new play would be nice too...let's see. Whatever it may be, experience shows that it's miles not meters...

Ciao for now