Monday, November 27, 2006

Livin' and Learnin' - The Hard Way

This is my follow-up on the meeting I had with that production company almost two weeks ago.

If you'll recall, the person I met with said he was sending out my script for coverage and I was to call him back.I didn't need to wait. They called me today.

They wanted to know if I still wanted them to send my script out for coverage. I was - needless to say - a tad confused. I told them I was under the impression they had already sent it out. At this point I was put on hold. They came back on the line and said there must have been a misunderstanding. Apparantely, they want to send my work in for coverage, but they do not have the manpower to handle it, so I was advised they "know of some people at the studios that would be willing to do it for them".

And then I said, "But you want me to pay for it, right?"

"Well, yeah."

"So you're really not interested in my script, are you?"

"Not as it stands now, no."

Wow. I feel like such a fool. It's back to square one -- no, not even square one. I'm pretty sure that my script (at least for now) is D.O.A.

Since the company I met with seems to have no problems in taking advantage of people like you and me, I see no problem in outing them.

THE VINE ENTERTAINMENT, with Gino Cabanas and Cameron Graham, is a scam - pure and simple. Sure, they may have credits, but if they have to ask writers to pay for their own coverage, then that's not a company worth doing business with.

Gee, the last time anyone wanted to screw me that badly, at least I got dinner first.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Family Secrets

I have a little story to tell you.

It’s about a woman who was married three times. Her first marriage produced a daughter. Her third produced two more daughters. Although her first and third marriages were (I’m sure) quite interesting themselves, we will not be talking about them today.

We will, however, talk about her second marriage.

It seems the woman met a young man in Las Vegas and they instantly hit it off. They quickly married and settled down in Los Angeles, and everything seemed fine.

Now, every marriage has its secrets, and theirs was no exception. The woman was sure she had finally met the man who would make her happy. Unfortunately, this was not to be, for it turned out that the man wasn’t quite who he told her he was. The woman soon found out that her new husband had a criminal background. He had ties with the Mob. Not just any ties, mind you, but with Bugsy Siegel. THE Bugsy Siegel. The man worked directly with Siegel, and had, himself, been arrested many times for larceny and “other” crimes. By the time the woman found out about her husband’s past, she was already pregnant with their first child.

One night her husband came home and demanded to have sexual relations with her. Since the man had a raging case of the measles, she feared for the safety of their unborn child and refused him. The man threatened her life and stormed out.

Fearing for her safety, as well as her daughter’s, they left their apartment and went to stay with her mother. She immediately filed for divorce. The husband’s response to this was to plant a bomb in the bedroom closet where she and her daughter were now staying.

When the bomb detonated, the bedroom was completely destroyed, but as fate would have it, the woman escaped injury by having chosen to spend that night on the living room couch.

The woman gave birth to another daughter. She named her Cheryl. Her now ex-husband wanted nothing to do with the child, but “insisted” on giving the baby to his brother and sister-in-law to raise. Afraid for her life, the woman relented and gave away her newborn child to him.

She would never see the child again.

Many years later, during her third marriage, she and her family were just being served dinner in a restaurant when He walked in. The woman blanched and insisted they leave. Luckily, they got out just before He saw them.

The woman lived to be 60 years old. She never spoke about her second child with anyone.

On her 18th birthday, her youngest child finally learns the truth; that she has, not two but three sisters. For the next 31 years, thoughts of this other sister would come and go, but never quite leave her. She was torn between her need to know and her feelings of betrayal by a mother long dead.

As a screenwriter I am always searching for interesting premises to write about. This story has always intrigued me, because the woman and the situations were quite real.

I know, because the woman in the story was my mother. I am her youngest child.

This year, I am going in search of the sister I’ve never known.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Head Games; Dread Games

So. Today was the big day. My very first ever face-to-face meeting with a production company to discuss a script I wrote. Pretty heady stuff, considering I've only gotten rejection letters before this.

From the moment the company called, until I walked through their doors, I did what I do best. I beat myself up. After the giddiness of being invited to a meeting instead of receiving a standard "no thank you" letter wore off, I began convincing myself what a shit writer I am, and how I'm so going to totally blow the meeting. As I said before; it's what I do best, and what I do best is not necessarily the best for me.

Cut to two days ago. I finally get a tenuous grip on my sanity just long enough to get a new "do". I look great now, and I'm stoked. Let me at 'em!

Twenty fours later, I'm back to square one because I read about a former college friend who -- I JUST found out -- was the live action model for Disney's "Ariel" and "Belle", as well as a television producer and is currently a voice-over artist in the Animaniacs series. Being the self-loathing individual I am, I naturally compare her success to mine. Big mistake. Huge. I sat on the sofa at 11:30 pm not wanting to go to the meeting at all.

But I did.

I'm a big believer in free advice, knowing that you usually get what you pay for it. I'm very good at separating the wheat from the chaff. So, with the advice I'd received from family, friends, and colleagues, I was ready to wow them!

I walked through their door with confidence and grace (if not internally, at least externally), and was ready for anything they would throw at me. I met their intern, Warren, who kindly offered me a beverage, which I took. And then I waited. There was no one there but Warren and me. No one. Okay, no problem, I've heard about this happening all the time. I was cool. This was going to happen.

Twenty minutes go by before one of the individuals I'm supposed to meet with shows up. We shake hands and he shows me into an office (which has the BEST freaking view of the Pacific Ocean, by the way), and we sit opposite each other in big, comfy leather chairs. This guy's the VP of Development, and although I was scheduled to meet with him and the CEO, the other guy's detained on another project, so it's just me and him for today. Fine with me. It's also fine with me that he just happens to look a helluva lot like Viggo Mortensen.

So, Viggo and I shoot the breeze about me and my history. He reveals he's not actually read the script, and at this stage it's not necessary. I found out that the reason my script was read (By Warren, by the way) at all, was that Warren liked the way I sounded on the phone! Holy crap, talk about serendipity. Good thing I wasn't having a shitty day when he called me up!

Vigo is charming, and intelligent, and very much to the point about what their company is -- and is not. At one point he asks me to give him the "elevator pitch" about my script, because he knows nothing about it.

This is where I'm going to add my own piece of advice for all of you: practice your pitch to anybody and everybody who will listen until it is PERFECT!

I hadn't, so my "30-second elevator pitch" turned out to be a 10 minute tirade. Oops. My bad.

Thankfully, my enthusiasm overshadowed my inexperience. He was drawn into the story and asked many questions (always a good sign). He then asked what I'm working on now. I pitched two more stories; one of which piqued his interest.

At this point I fully expected Viggo to rise and show me to the door, but he didn't. What he did do was tell me he plans to obtain coverage on my work and that I should call him in one week to follow up with him. Then he gives me his card.

Then he showed me the door.

So, since I am a firm believer in taking something away from every experience, here's what I learned today:

1. I am not a shit writer. I'm pretty damned good, as a matter of fact.
2. Life is not black and white. It's all shades of gray. You go into something, such as a meeting, and either expect the very best, or the very worst to happen, and neither does. It will always be somewhere in the middle.
3. I am no longer a virgin -- as far as meetings go, so I can finally let go of that fear.
4. Enthusiasm is catching. The more enthusiastic you are about your project, they will be, too.

That's it. I'm exhaused now. Hopefully, by this time next week, I'll have some good news to share. Until then, my fingers remain crossed.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Holy Grail

Could it be? Is it possible? Why, yes...yes it is!

The Holy Grail for screenwriters is a sale, of course. But, for the budding writer, like myself, a meeting with an established production company is pretty darn close. And I'll take it, thank you very much.

Almost three months back I submitted my family drama, A GHOST OF A CHANCE, to a production company, but didn't hear a word -- until today. It seems I've jumped past that all-important first hurdle (the company's reader), and he recommended that the head honcho(s) meet with me.


Am I thrilled? Youbetcha.
Am I scared? TO DEATH!

Sitting alone in front of my laptop all day - every day - hasn't exactly honed my interpersonal skills. I'm no blithering idiot, but I do have the tendancy to hyperventilate, or stop breathing altogether when faced with confrontation and/or stressful situations.

You think if I faint, or throw up on his $400 shoes it'll impress him enough to offer me a six-month, $10,000 option?!?

Thank goodness the meeting's not until the 15th. Maybe by then, I'll have gotten most of these butterflies out of my stomach.

Probably not. Keep any spare fingers crossed for me.

Whatever the outcome, I'll let you know what happened during my first real meeting.