Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sorry, I Don't Have One Of Those!

From this time five years ago (2010)...

I have a big stack of completed scripts, but when I read the ads on Ink Tip’s free newsletter looking for specific types of scripts - I don’t have any scripts like that. And some of the requests are even for normal types of scripts. Sure, there are lots that are looking for a musical western with two roles for little people and one for a 70 year old blond haired blue eyed ex-movie star which can be filmed in Romania and feature some nudity... but there are also some for Family Holiday Scripts - and I don’t have one of those. When I read those ads I think I should just spend a year writing one of everything, so that when someone asks for a disaster script, I have one.

I have an old horror-western about the ghosts of Native Americans that get revenge that needs a serious rewrite. Plus a Western outlined, and it’s a cool story called THREE DEADLY GUNS about a town that is a haven for retired gunslingers - and how two old men and the daughter of a famous desperado have to fight the three current top gunslingers to protect a convicted man from the town’s lynch squad... so he can he legally hanged in Yuma Prison. I had this idea 20 years ago and never wrote it - and I’m glad... because now that I’m an “old man” I think I can write it better than I ever could have 20 years ago. I know what it’s like to think you have the reflexes of a 20 year old... but don’t. I know what it’s like to understand your limitations. One of my old notes says “Lethal Weapon as a western - nonstop action”, and what is funny about that is how leisurely paced LETHAL WEAPON looks these days. That is scheduled to be written and the horror-western will someday be rewritten.

I also have an unusual holiday story I want to write from a thing that happened to my sister. The fictional version is about a band whose van breaks down in a small town on their way home for Christmas, and they have to earn enough money to get it fixed... by playing a different kind of music every night. Jazz, country, classical, punk, metal, folk, etc. At first they just want to *use* the town to make enough money to spit, but they end up becoming involved with the people through playing music at these events.

Because people always seem to be looking for disaster movies for TV, I made a list of different types of natural disasters and was surprised to see a few that have *never* been put on film - probably because they are kind of weird. But weird is a great thing - and I may generate a couple of treatments for those in my spare time... if I ever find any.

I have an old comedy script that is perfect for Jonah Hill or any of those other new comedy guys - but the script doesn’t work. I've figured out what is wrong with it - it’s not very funny, but that is due to a weak plot - and it’s on the big board for a rewrite. I have realized that comedy - which most people think doesn’t really need strong plotting - really does need a solid plot to build jokes on. Otherwise, the jokes can seem forced and contrived. I learned this from PINEAPPLE EXPRESS which often seemed to have the story reach for the jokes, instead of finding the jokes within the story. The stronger the story, the easier to find the jokes within it. So I’m going back to the drawing board on that story to make sure it’s solid. I hope that I can write it funny enough for someone to see the potential in it if an actual funny person does a rewrite.

That is my only comedy script, though I do have a couple of outlined comedies that are ready to write - except they are more comedy-dramas... and those do not sell at all. One is about my years working the midnight to 9am stocking shift at Safeway Grocery called THE NIGHT STALKERS - that one has had act 1 written for a couple of decades.

I do not have a rom-com, nor do I have any good ideas for one. I should come up with *something* for that, right?

I also have a handful of outlines & synopsis for “stunt” contained thrillers like PHONE BOOTH or PANIC ROOM or BURIED. The one of those I like best is called BREAKING NEWS and it’s on the To Write List - about an overly ambitious female news reporter who ends up a hostage in her news van as it is part of a high speed chase.

But every time I think about all of those outlined scripts I have, and all of the one page synopsis for potential scripts, and all of those treatments I’ve written, and... well, where would I find time to write them all? I mean, the stuff I have now will probably never get written, let alone one of every popular genre I don’t have a script for. Some of these things I will write, because they are great ideas and I have them on the big to do list - um, at the bottom. Others are thing that I can pull out a treatment for if someone wants a female lead jungle action flick or a horror movie about people who wake up in a maze of booby traps handcuffed to the person they most want to kill... who is now their partner, or a cool horror movie version of ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST. Hey, I got that!

Maybe I should just be happy with what I have and not try to have everything. I’m never going to have a rom-com, anyway, and that’s what makes the most sense to write to sell. And I already plan on rewriting my old unfunny comedy script.

You can’t have everything. You can’t play every position on a baseball team. You have to look at your strengths and focus on those. Sure, part of selling a script is having the exact script that someone wants to buy - and then having them read your script (that’s the luck part of this business) but if one company is looking for those rom-coms I’m not interested in writing, all I have to do is wait for the next company or the company after that or after that and eventually we get to the producer who is looking for a thriller or action script or something else in my “wheelhouse”. That’s what they call your specialty genre(s), your skill set, the genre(s) where your talents lie. Your “wheelhouse”. Nobody does everything well - we all have strengths and weaknesses. If you could never see yourself writing a horror screenplay - don’t write one. Find the kind of screenplay that studios buy and millions of people want to pay to see that you *do* see yourself writing... then don’t just “see yourself” writing those scripts - actually do it. (Writing while looking in a mirror might qualify as “seeing yourself writing that kind of screenplay” but it’s also kinda weird.) Figure out what you do best, then do that.

Even if the Ink Tip script requests are for weird things, eventually there are requests for a great script in a popular genre... and there’s your open door.

- Bill


TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Chapters & Split Screens - SISTERS and CITY OF GOD.
Dinner: Taco salad.
Bicycle: Saturday rode a little farther north than usual to a BBQ at Bamboo Killers Emily's new house. I had brought a sweatshirt in one of my light backpacks, but it was nice at 10pm when I rode home. Shirt sleeve weather.
Pages: Not much done.


Steve Peterson said...

If you really want to sell something to a company off the InkTip newsletter, what you need is Canadian citizenship...

Anonymous said...
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Richard J. McKenzie said...

- now that I’m an “old man” -

hahahahhahaha! (these young guys! I love their sense of humor).

I'd give 10 years of my life to be your age, Bill.
Wait a minute, that can't be right.

Lumberjack's favorite director:
Tim Bur!!-ton.

Carl said...

A) What's "spare time"?
B) If you need true stuff from a former road jazz musician, holler.
C) I still don't understand why anybody watches RomComs anyway.

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