Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spring Progress Report

Well, Bill, you can trash a $200m plus film sight unseen, but what the hell is going on with *your* career?

I’m so glad you asked.

1) Just finished a new spec... and starting another.

2) *Actually* working on the action book rewrite - since that $253 used price on Amazon is kinda crazy to pay for an out of print paperback.

3) My big studio hit 80s film remake project - known to friends as Grandma’s Possum Pie because no one has sent out a press release that they're remaking this film and I don’t want to be the one who let the cat out of the bag if they have some *reason* for not wanting this known - seems to have stalled. At least, as far as I am concerned. There is probably some other writer working on it right now. I got one of those script notes that I don't know how to make work (remove the antagonist) and asked if *they* knew how to make it work and I got one of those, “You’re the writer, be creative” answers (though, in different words). There were a couple of meetings and some phone calls and some e-mails after that, but I don’t think they ever figured out how it could work and make sense. My plan has been to wait until they figure out that the note doesn't work - even if it means some other writer wastes their time doing a few drafts.

4) The 3rd Place Contest Winner - That flavor lasted a couple of months. Over a dozen production companies requested it, and only 2 managers, no agents. I thought that was strange, because there were folks who got requests from agents and managers when they announced the top 100... and even more when they cut it down to the finalists. But I only had 2 requests when I bronzed - and one of those was after sending a query which included a link to the contest winner's page. The whole reason for entering VOLATILE was that it was an experimental script (first script in decades written with no outline) and one helluva bleak story. And that’s what just about every prodco said. I had some meetings at some studios, a few places read additional scripts because they liked the writing but thought the story was too dark... and eventually that moment of lukewarm heat dissipated. I actually have one place that is still reading stuff... but no agents or managers or dentists to the stars.

5) The “new assignment”: just got a call, next week we have a meeting and then I write the next draft. That’s going smooth.

6) Looks like I got a rewrite gig after I finish that draft. Some action script is in trouble and the producer wants me to make it work. I don’t like rewriting other people’s work, and you probably will not see my name anywhere on this film unless it’s a “Special Thanks” thing. I just want to make the script work... and make some money... and get in good with the producer (who will be making other films that need screenplays).

7) Circling possible projects - that may crash and burn two months from now...

A) I sent out a zillion query letters after winning 3rd place in the contest, and got a couple of hits. One that looks like a good possibility is a producer who had read my stuff long ago and switched studio deals, and was now looking for “reboots” of older popular films in the studio library that nobody else has dibseys on. I pitched him a few possibilities (my lawyer, who is reading this, knows I pitched a stack of films - almost anything in the studio library I could think of with a new high concept twist and a fresh story) - and there was one they really liked. An 80s action flick that seems like an obvious reboot - yet nobody seems to have thought of it, yet. The producer is now talking to the studio.

B) Some folks looking for a thriller are reading an old Hitchockian project of mine that is filled with twists and has a cool concept and catchy title.

C) Some folks who need an MOW writer who knows how to write for budget are looking at something of mine as a sample.

D) A couple of other places are reading stuff from that volley of queries - including the spec I finished at the end of last year. Now, if I could only get all of those other specs I wrote out there!

8) The Italian Novel Adaptation Project - um, keep forgetting about it, so I suspect I do not have that job. It was problematic anyway - a series of mostly unconnected short stories that all happen on the same day. It worked as a book, but there was no plot thread that connected the stories. I screwed up on that one - should have at least given it a shot.

9) There is no number 9.

10) Lawyer just called - he heard of a company looking for a script with a specific type of lead that is not your usual star... and after he kept mentioning this script of mine that did not fit, stupid me realized that it could easily fit with some small cosmetic changes. I am stupid.

So my 20th year as a professional screenwriting will result with (at least) my 20th produced screenplay on screen... and maybe a couple more.

As usual, in 2 months everything will probably be dead except the assignment and the rewrite, but the key is to keep enough things in circulation so that *something* happens, and often one thing leads to another. Probably mentioned this in another blog entry, but I have this sheet of paper with “Chances To Win” on the top, and I try to keep it filled with scripts that are out in the world and meetings and anything else that may result in a sale or assignment. If I only have one lotto ticket I only have one chance, if I have a dozen lotto tickets I have a dozen chances. Here’s the thing - I’m writing my own tickets!

And so are you.

Every script is another chance, another ticket. And if nothing happens with the spec I just finished, I had a lot of fun writing it (dust bunnies that form into creatures and thousands of rats and all kinds of fun stuff in that one), and maybe something happens with the next one - that is about pirates. I love coming up with some strange idea and then living in that world for a while.

Sometimes I even get paid for it.

- Bill

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Always Do Your Best Work - even of it is on a monster movie for Roger Corman.

Dinner: Turkey sandwich again.
Bicycle: Up to a coffee shop in NoHo then back to Ventura & Vineland for the evening shift, where there was an available table. It was a miracle!
Pages: A chapter on the Action Book.


Emily Blake said...

You are a hustler and you have the energy of a 12-year-old. How do you keep track of all this stuff?

wcmartell said...

I have that list... and often I forget, and when I was typing this up, I got some stuff wrong - forgetting how I first contacted one of these places.

Steve Peterson said...

Have you thought of simply self-publishing a Kindle version?

I think you probably drive most of the sales off your own web-site and it's not like the cover art for the original wasn't something you could handle on your own.

wcmartell said...

There are publishers interested. But I have to get it rewritten, updated, those chapters from the mid-90s version fixed, etc.

The White Wolf said...

Best success, Bill.

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