Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What now?

What now?
I don't think I have posted anything here for about a month. Bad blogger, bad!

As usual, I am deep in a little of this, a little of that, hoping some of it sticks, blooms, grows, does something productive etc. There have been so many projects that I have worked on and, yes, gotten paid for, that have not gone anywhere and it's tough because everything is out of my hands.

I get hired to write something, I get paid (some of the time anyway, even if it is less than minimum wage) and, naturally, I want to see it get produced. No, actually, it is not enough for me to get paid to write screenplays because a screenplay in and of itself is nothing but a pile of paper until someone turns it into a movie. A symphony is nothing but lines and dots on a piece of paper until musicians perform it. A blueprint is just a picture until contractors use it to make a building.

So, no matter what I am working on --- yes, I wrote a screenplay about a vegetarian who becomes a cannibal --- I give it my best shot, make it as good as possible because I want to satisfy the client, I want to get hired again and, yes, because I want to see the movie but once I deliver the script, I am usually out of the game. I am not a producer, I can't get a film made. Similarly, if a film of mine does get made, I am at the mercy of those who are making the film, hoping that they take care of my baby. Don't get me started on this element of cinematic childcare --- let's just say that I need to explore other options. For the record, the cannibal film was produced but without, so I am told, my script because, in the words of the director, my "dialogue was too good for the caliber of actors we can afford." Yes, I got screwed on that one.

So, as summer 2010 approaches, I eagerly anticipate, once again, the actual production of one of my screenplays. "The Scare" (their title, not mine), a psychological thriller that I did a major overhaul on, is supposed to be shooting this June in New York. "Painted", a family film that I was hired to write, is in pre-production according to the website, as of May 17th and expected to shoot in California during July and August.

Finally, word from L.A. is that, after being on the back-burner for a few months, "Aftermath" is moving up to the front-burner in anticipation of a fall shoot in L.A. and I can only hope that childcare does right by me this time.

After way too long, I am coming to realize that I shouldn't be such a baby about people screwing with my work, re-writing my screenplays in production etc, because so much of my work these days is re-writing other people's screenplays or taking their ideas for films and turning them into my idea of how to turn it into a screenplay.

So, as mentioned before, I am deep in it, reading screenplays for people, doing a major overhaul on one for a director who has people ready to hear his pitch, waiting for word from Mumbai about a project that is being pitched there right now, working on a treatment for an adaptation of a book that I can barely get through and reading screenplays for former students who both plan to shoot their films this summer.

The mail just arrived and in it was a rough copy of a new film by Benny Mathews, who wants my opinion. Years ago, I reviewed Benny's film "Santeria" for Home Media Entertainment Magazine, really liked it and he sent me a "fan" letter, thanking me for understanding his film so well. We have been friendly ever since and hope to collaborate on something one day.

(I also got a "fan" letter from "Shoot 'Em Up" director Michael Davis because I raved about his previous film "Monster Man", because I was the only reviewer who "got" the film and, on the strength of my review, he speculated that it would get a theatrical run in Europe, which would then pave the way for a bigger budget follow-up, which wound up being "Shoot 'Em Up.")

I am also expecting an advance copy of "Green", the second feature by my former student, the wildly talented Nick Gregorio. Nick co-wrote, produced, directed, starred in the wonderful "Happy Birthday Harris Malden" which made a little splash in the indie world a few years ago and I am really eager to see this new film, having read the screenplay last year. Nick stopped by my class yesterday to say "hi" and that the DVD would be coming soon.

If I can't yet see my own work produced, it is genuinely gratifying for me to see other people in my circle get to see their work produced. They know that I'm here for them and I know that they're here for me. Now, that's good care!