Friday, September 12, 2008

The Meal Meeting Diet
(part three - Breakfast)

I lost 20 pounds on the Meal Meeting Diet - and you can too!

Okay, I have to pitch my take for a remake of a hit 1980s film to a legendary producer... and I haven’t seen the film since the 1980s when it came out. My *memory* of the film is sketchy. And I have another magazine article I have to crank out, plus the Arclight has been doing these screenings of new prints of sci-fi films, plus screenings of new prints of films from the 100 Great Film Series - often with director doing Q&A. Some friends and I have tickets to these, bought way in advance... and a couple of these screenings hit between MOW meal meeting and the remake meeting. I can handle it. I can handle it.

But I really have too much to do. And the first real problem is finding a copy of this film on DVD. I went to a couple of places to buy a copy, and they didn’t have it. Both places had a DVD with all of the sequels, but not the first film. Pisser. I know that I *can* find it somewhere, because it’s on Amazon. I should have just ordered it from Amazon, but I kept thinking I needed it *now* and couldn’t wait for delivery. But it would have been delivered by now, had I ordered it. The cold is what killed me - I just wasn’t thinking straight. Now that the cold is over, I'm thinking fine... and thinking that I should have ordered the danged DVD from Amazon. Anyway, I realize I can drive all over town... or just go down the street to Odyssey Video and rent it.

Odyssey is one of those places that has everything. They have two or three stores in Los Angeles, and that’s it. One store is right down the street from me, and I’ve rented there forever. On Tuesdays & Thursdays - every movie, including new releases, 99 cents. Can’t beat it when you want to see that film that got 5% on the Tomato Meeter to see it it really is that bad... or the latest Nic Cage “quirky hair” film. The great thing about Odyssey is that they keep new releases on the new wall until they stop renting well... and it becomes kind of a gauge as to how well your film is doing. For some reason, NIGHT HUNTER was on the New Release Wall for over a year - it was *always* rented out. I have no idea why. Many of my other films stayed on the wall *long* after studio new releases went into general population with the rest of the riff-raff. Anyway, I search their DVD section for this film and they don’t seem to have it - maybe it’s rented out. I go up to the counter, where they look it up and are shocked that they don’t have it on DVD at all... but they still have it on VHS. Hey, I actually still have a VHS player. I grab it - 99 cents a day every day - and watch it and take notes and watch it again... and keep it for 5 days.

I work out three different ways the story could go, e-mail the producer, and he picks one. Then I start to come up with how that story would work in 2010 (that’s when this film will hit your local cinemas). One of the major elements in this story has to do with the events of the time - and that has to be replaced with something new. And one thing that always bugged me about the movie is that it has an artificially happy ending. There is a huge tragic event in the story, and due to some fancy foot work on the part of the original writer, the tragic event is *erased* by the end and everyone lives happily ever after. One of those happy endings that makes no sense if you think about it... but everyone is grabbing their coats and leaving the cinema, and not thinking. So I come up with a cool solution to this that *keeps* the tragedy, and uses it for a big emotional scene at the end. Instead of a happy ending, we get a big cry ending. I think that works even better. I pitch my ending to a friend who has seen the original movie, and he thinks it works... and will be one of those “E.T.” “I’ll be right here” scenes (which is what I was going for).

Then I get the phone call... the meeting was supposed to be in the afternoon, but will now be a *breakfast meeting* at 9am. I don’t do mornings. I don’t do breakfast. I do not function at a high enough level at 9am to convince a legendary (and intelligent) producer that the end of one if his hit films doesn’t work, and I have a better ending. And this 9am meeting is right around the corner!

I transfer all of my notes to index cards, my cheat sheet for the meeting. But as I’m doing this, I’m coming up with new ideas and rearranging the cards and still fine tuning...

And I’m doing this up until about 2am before that 9am meeting. I *want* to go to bed early, but I just can’t sleep. I’m excited and nervous and worried. I keep going over the cards. I keep worrying that he will absolutely hate my ending.

Alarm goes off a few hours later, I shower shave dress, and head down to the restaurant for breakfast. I’m there a half hour early (as usual) and flip through the cards again - actually pulling out blanks and writing a new scene. I need coffee... and I almost cross the street to a Coffee Bean, but think that’s stupid - I’m about to go to a breakfast meeting. There will be coffee.

Legendary producer arrives, with two other members of his team. Everyone orders a big breakfast, as do I. Everyone orders coffee, as do I. There’s a little chit chat, then I pull out my cards and begin the show... but I’ve had a couple of sips of coffee and the caffeine hasn’t kicked in - I’m mostly reading off cards. This is good, because if I didn’t have the cards, I’d probably just be drooling or something. I get to the first indication that I’ve changed the impossible happy ending... and I see the Legendary Producer’s expression change. He hates it. Now, *I* think that when we get to the end, it will all come together, there will be that “I’ll be right here” ET moment, he’ll cry... and everything will end happily ever after (even if the movie doesn’t). Except... The producer has another meeting on his film in post (they’re about to lock it, and need to do any last minute changes), and has to split before I get to the ending. His two team members stay, and both seem to like my ending. Actually one really likes it, one doesn’t hate it. But the meeting is over, and I’ve taken *one bite* of my big breakfast... everyone else has cleaned their plates. The Legendary Producer actually cleaned his plate before zipping away to his meeting on the new film. Everyone else has probably drank three times the coffee as I have... because they were drinking coffee and eating while I was talking. So, when we leave, I look down at my big breakfast... and think for a moment about doggie bags and starving people in Africa and all kinds of other things... but don’t want to be the guy carrying the doggie bag out to my car, so let the busboy take it away.

Three meal meetings, and I probably had three to six bites of food total. When you’re the guy doing all of the talking, it’s difficult to eat at the same time. Maybe there’s some trick to it that I don’t know. Anyone know how to actually *eat* at a meal meeting?

So, now we have another meeting on the remake project before we go out to the studios.... and I’m not planning on eating anything at the meeting. If I keep having meetings, who knows how much I can lose.

- Bill

PS: Obviously VERTIGO has been bumped back to *next week*, but I figured a "real blog entry" would be better than "content generation".

PPS: As soon as this becomes more than a bunch of meetings and turns into an actual deal, I'll have some more entries - including whether my major end change stayed and what happens when we try to set this up at a studio (that begins on Monday). But I'm going to wait until it's over before telling you about it.

IMPORTANT UPDATE:

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Sullivan's Travels and 9/11.
Yesterday’s Dinner: Chicken tacos at Del Taco.

18 comments:

mrswing said...

Bill -

Doggy bag the dinners in future. You deserve them.
I'm feeling so bad for you - talk about a starving screenwriter! :-)

ObiDonWan said...

Great way to lose weight! Now if I could just arrange a breakfast (favorite meal of the day) meeting...

wcmartell said...

I'll tell you, looking at that breakfast made me want to doggie bag it... but I didn't want to be the only guy with bag of leftover food leaving the meeting - even though that is *stupid* for me to be worried about something like that.

Even though there will be a complete meeting recap as soon as this is over - we are meeting with Paramount on Monday. Then, every other studio in town.

- Bill

Dave Shepherd said...

Not that I'd recommend it, but you could always be really rude and talk with your mouth full.

I would've taken a doggy bag. But I REALLY love food.

crowmagnumman said...

I'm starting to get really curious about what film you're remaking. I'm sure I'll find out eventually.

MattDW said...

I've always found the line "I hate to see food go to waste" works remarkably well.

pwtenny said...

I think I would have just stayed after and eaten. That you didn't really touch your plate and spent the entire time talking should have made it obvious why.

ObiDonWan said...

I roam somewhat around the web, and have to say what a relief it is to come here--no freekin politics!!
Here's how I feel about politics...
http://thegrumpcurmudgeon.blogspot.com/

Laura Reyna said...

I would have stayed & finished breakfast too.

"Haven't eaten yet. Nice talking to you. Bye."

"Miss, some more coffee, please."

It's that simple.

Maybe you need to get a writing partner so he can do all the talking while you eat. I'm now thinking of getting a partner JUST b/c of these posts.

wcmartell said...

I almost did a politics entry - but it was going to be about how I'm tired of candidates talking trash about the other guy, and *not* talking about whatever their plan is. But that would have just started a bunch of political posts - and most of them would probably be talking trash about the other candidate... and I don't want to read any of that.

I DON'T WANT TO READ ANY OF THAT.

Hope I made that clear.

- Bill

Morgan McKinnon said...

Perhaps you *should* do a politics entry...you don't want to read it?
Neither do I and a lot of others. That doesn't erase the fact that it needs to be read.

Did you know that gasoline is $5 a gallon in some cities?

Did you know that some heads-of-households barely earn over $7 an hour?

But then, WHO CARES? RIGHT?

R2K said...

: )

mankiboi said...

Perhaps finish your meal after meeting? Probably that's not an option, because when I leave meal-meetings, my mind is on 5th gear and I just don't feel the emptiness in my stomach.

Have you ever visited restaurants that offer french-dipped sandwiches. In my country there isn't any, but they look delicious. Certainly not a diet-thingy, but still...

mankiboi said...

I suggest that you're penning Death Wish remake:)

wcmartell said...

Today, I are a salad at a pre-meeting meeting! I ate all of it!

Everyone else ate a whole meal.

- Bill

ObiDonWan said...

I wanta know more about meeting Racquel Welch! Did her handshake give you shivers? Hot & cold flashes? Or did you just settle for looking like the wolf in the old Red Hot Riding Hood cartoon?

mrswing said...

Re: the Raquel Welch meeting: Isn't this the post about not getting food at meetings, rather than about not getting laid at meetings? ;-)

Morgan McKinnon said...

"Re: the Raquel Welch meeting: Isn't this the post about not getting food at meetings, rather than about not getting laid at meetings? ;-)"


Six of one half dozen of the other.

Morgan ;-)

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