Sunday, April 24, 2011

Dollar option deal about to go down....

I'm going to make a confession: I've been off my screenwriting game big-time for about six months now. A combination of getting work done on the house, job disruption and a new day job that eats my brain has meant that my focus has not always been what he should. Plus, I've been a lazy procrastinator who's spent far too much time websurfing, watching telly and going out.

But that's all over now. The real me, the one who loves movies and is determined to write movies that get made, is back. It's time to roll up my sleeves and make the dream happen!

Had a good start on Thursday this week when I got an email from a lady producer in Hollywood. She saw one of my scripts on Inktip. It's a low-budget Christmas family script that I always imagined getting made for TV. Producer lady likes the script and wants to option it for a dollar.

I thought about this for approximately ten seconds and then said yes. It's not like I have a ton of other people beating down my door, after all. A dollar option is definitely better than none at all. Option away!

I checked my mails on Friday morning and found that producer lady wanted to speak to me on Skype. At 10am PST, which is around 6pm here. This would have been fine except for two issues. First, my Mac laptop has an operating system from the Dark Ages and will not support Skype. Second, my folks have a holiday house in Kinvara, and I was due to join them there for part of the weekend. Kinvara is a lovely spot, but it's not known for its great mobile phone signal (you used to have to go upstairs and practically hang out of the window to make a call). I didn't have high hopes for its wifi signal.

My sister lent me her laptop to make the call from. Thanks O! Then my dad did some scouting in Kinvara and told me when I got down there that the Merriman Hotel has wifi. I trundled up to the Merriman at six and found I had two location options: the lobby (bit public) and the dining room, which was deserted apart from a guy looking at Youtube videos, two old ladies having tea and a German man who kept talking loudly to a waiter. Dining room it was.

The only problem were the staff, who (somewhat reasonably) wanted us all to shag off so they could start setting the place up for the dinner rush. They were not at all impressed at the dollar option deal about to take place in front of them and hovered in the background, wielding cutlery and salt cellars.

Lady producer called at five past six and a shouty Skype conversation ensued. I can't see her (laptop has no camera) but I imagined her firing up a cigar in a huge office.

She loves the script. Doesn't option much stuff but needs a family Christmas movie to make quickly. No time for script revisions or development (great! Recent experience has put me off these). She'll get her people to email over an option agreement. Wants to know if I have anything else. I have a thriller. She'll read a synopsis for it.

Then she asked what time it was in Ireland. Asked how I pronounced my name and I told her ("Jeez, I would've butchered that"). And that was it!

I've been down this road before and been disappointed, so I'm not going to get too excited yet. But still, progress! Thanks dining staff and thanks family, for helping me in my hour of need. I'll mention y'all in the Oscar speech, etc...

Dollar option deal about to go down....

I'm going to make a confession: I've been off my screenwriting game big-time for about six months now. A combination of getting work done on the house, job disruption and a new day job that eats my brain has meant that my focus has not always been what he should. Plus, I've been a lazy procrastinator who's spent far too much time websurfing, watching telly and going out.

But that's all over now. The real me, the one who loves movies and is determined to write movies that get made, is back. It's time to roll up my sleeves and make the dream happen!

Had a good start on Thursday this week when I got an email from a lady producer in Hollywood. She saw one of my scripts on Inktip. It's a low-budget Christmas family script that I always imagined getting made for TV. Producer lady likes the script and wants to option it for a dollar.

I thought about this for approximately ten seconds and then said yes. It's not like I have a ton of other people beating down my door, after all. A dollar option is definitely better than none at all. Option away!

I checked my mails on Friday morning and found that producer lady wanted to speak to me on Skype. At 10am PST, which is around 6pm here. This would have been fine except for two issues. First, my Mac laptop has an operating system from the Dark Ages and will not support Skype. Second, my folks have a holiday house in Kinvara, and I was due to join them there for part of the weekend. Kinvara is a lovely spot, but it's not known for its great mobile phone signal (you used to have to go upstairs and practically hang out of the window to make a call). I didn't have high hopes for its wifi signal.

My sister lent me her laptop to make the call from. Thanks O! Then my dad did some scouting in Kinvara and told me when I got down there that the Merriman Hotel has wifi. I trundled up to the Merriman at six and found I had two location options: the lobby (bit public) and the dining room, which was deserted apart from a guy looking at Youtube videos, two old ladies having tea and a German man who kept talking loudly to a waiter. Dining room it was.

The only problem were the staff, who (somewhat reasonably) wanted us all to shag off so they could start setting the place up for the dinner rush. They were not at all impressed at the dollar option deal about to take place in front of them and hovered in the background, wielding cutlery and salt cellars.

Lady producer called at five past six and a shouty Skype conversation ensued. I can't see her (laptop has no camera) but I imagined her firing up a cigar in a huge office.

She loves the script. Doesn't option much stuff but needs a family Christmas movie to make quickly. No time for script revisions or development (great! Recent experience has put me off these). She'll get her people to email over an option agreement. Wants to know if I have anything else. I have a thriller. She'll read a synopsis for it.

Then she asked what time it was in Ireland. Asked how I pronounced my name and I told her ("Jeez, I would've butchered that"). And that was it!

I've been down this road before and been disappointed, so I'm not going to get too excited yet. But still, progress! Thanks dining staff and thanks family, for helping me in my hour of need. I'll mention y'all in the Oscar speech, etc...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Page-one rewrites and why they're necessary...

I have a script where the big problem is the age of the main characters. They're too old. As in, they're early-twenties chicks when really they should be high-school girls. Changing it is going to mean changing a LOT.

One of them was supposed to have her own apartment. Not anymore! The other was supposed to work in a bar - that's gonna have to go. And so on and so on.

But it's worth doing and I know in my heart that this page-one rewrite is going to pay off. Because writing the initial couple of drafts, it seemed forced. I was always trying to think of things for the characters to do, and one of them in particular never seemed to convince me as a real person.

Making them younger is going to solve a lot of that. Things that were too simple for a twentysomething to deal with will be challenging for a 17-year-old. And challenging is what we all want for our characters - make them suffer!

Sometimes you have to chuck a lot of what you've written out and start again. And it's time to take a deep breath, take a big gulp of coffee, and start cutting....

Page-one rewrites and why they're necessary...

I have a script where the big problem is the age of the main characters. They're too old. As in, they're early-twenties chicks when really they should be high-school girls. Changing it is going to mean changing a LOT.

One of them was supposed to have her own apartment. Not anymore! The other was supposed to work in a bar - that's gonna have to go. And so on and so on.

But it's worth doing and I know in my heart that this page-one rewrite is going to pay off. Because writing the initial couple of drafts, it seemed forced. I was always trying to think of things for the characters to do, and one of them in particular never seemed to convince me as a real person.

Making them younger is going to solve a lot of that. Things that were too simple for a twentysomething to deal with will be challenging for a 17-year-old. And challenging is what we all want for our characters - make them suffer!

Sometimes you have to chuck a lot of what you've written out and start again. And it's time to take a deep breath, take a big gulp of coffee, and start cutting....

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ambiguity - can the writer leave it up to the viewer?

I recently read a script with supernatural elements. Or were they? I wasn't sure if all the mad stuff that took place was real or not. The writer himself, when questioned, felt that the story operated on several possible levels - that the happenings in the script were supernatural or that they were caused by malevolent real people. He wasn't sure which it should be, and wondered if he had to even make the decision. Couldn't he just leave it up to the viewer to decide?

My opinion on this: yes, the viewer can decide for themselves, on watching the movie, what's actually going on. BUT - the writer must make a decision at an early stage of writing the film (this was a first draft) what he/she thinks the solution is. The writer, of all people, must be sure of what's happening! David Lynch knows what's going on in all his films, trust me - even if no one else does!

Take control of your story and make the call about which direction it's going in. Because otherwise, you are headed for a seriously vague mess of a final product, and we've all seen way too many of them....

Ambiguity - can the writer leave it up to the viewer?

I recently read a script with supernatural elements. Or were they? I wasn't sure if all the mad stuff that took place was real or not. The writer himself, when questioned, felt that the story operated on several possible levels - that the happenings in the script were supernatural or that they were caused by malevolent real people. He wasn't sure which it should be, and wondered if he had to even make the decision. Couldn't he just leave it up to the viewer to decide?

My opinion on this: yes, the viewer can decide for themselves, on watching the movie, what's actually going on. BUT - the writer must make a decision at an early stage of writing the film (this was a first draft) what he/she thinks the solution is. The writer, of all people, must be sure of what's happening! David Lynch knows what's going on in all his films, trust me - even if no one else does!

Take control of your story and make the call about which direction it's going in. Because otherwise, you are headed for a seriously vague mess of a final product, and we've all seen way too many of them....