Friday, November 12, 2010

Not Waiting To Exhale

I should be grading my students screenplays but I am not. I should be grading the revisions of the screenplays that I graded last week but I am not. I should be working on at least one of the three feature screenplays that I have committed to write but I am not. I should be working on the revisions of the feature that I doctored over the summer but I am not. I should be working on one short screenplay and revising another but I am not.

I should not be holding my breath, thinking anxiously about what is going on in L.A. but I am. I should know better, I have been down this road before. People have expressed interest in producing my work in the past. One-time Indie hot-shot production company InDigEnt was interested in my favorite screenplay, Incorporated, years ago and I even had informal commitments from name talent but it never happened. Aftermath was optioned last year, the option expires in almost two months, the producer told me that they were hoping to shoot it this fall, which, last time I checked, is sort of around now. No word on any Aftermath production. Come January I could be faced with an offer to re-option it and send it back into development oblivion for who-knows-how-long or I could regain the rights and try to make it happen on my own, once again. No, I have learned to not hold my breath.

And yet, here I sit, grasping for air as my mind runs wild. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. I do have work to do, stuff to keep me busy and, if I ever feel idle time creeping in, there is always Facebook.

I had a speaking engagement last Thursday night. I’d compiled a bunch of clips from movies depicting inter-faith relationships between Jews and others. First I gave a little speech about movies, the film industry, relationships and cultural identity, next I presented the clips and then I moderated a discussion between an audience of nearly 300 people and a panel of rabbis and people in “mixed” relationships. Good times. It went well, I was “on”, knew my stuff, engaged, entertained and even got quite a few laughs.

I got home later that night, checked e-mail and found one from a former student who works in development for a fairly prominent producer-director, a guy who has had his fair share of hit films, worked with big stars and so on. The last time that I spoke with this student, he asked if I would be interested in adapting a beloved children’s classic for this director -as if it has not been made a number of times already. No, I would not be interested in adapting this book for the screen. “Yes”, I enthusiastically replied, “I could really get into doing that.” It never happened. Good thing I wasn’t holding my breath.

The e-mail last week was not about adapting a beloved children’s classic:

From: R**** T**** <****>
To: David Greenberg
Sent: Thu, November 4, 2010 10:08:23 PM
Subject: low budget noir

Hey David:

Thanks for the birthday wishes.

I was wondering if you had any unproduced low-budget noir scripts? W***** is looking for something low-budget while he's in L.A.
R**** T*****
S******** Studios
(323) ***-****

If I did not have a low-budget noir screenplay sitting around, I would not be writing this post. A few years ago, an author hired me to adapt his steamy, sleazy novel about a beautiful young gold-digger, her much older billionaire husband and the guys who kidnap her into a screenplay. Even he acknowledged that my version of the story was much better than the book that got published.

I know in my heart that I have done all I can do: I have written a really good, deliriously nasty low-budget neo-noir that can be easily adapted to their specifications, I have sent it in -- heck, I even cut this student a little break a few years ago when he needed a decent grade from me in order to graduate. So, no, I am not holding my breath, not letting my mind run wild with fantasies of this being “the one” that finally makes it happen. No, I am not doing any of those things but I am not doing much else. Maybe it’s time to get back to those other student screenplays because you never know...