Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More UPs and DOWNs

Not to be too dramatic --- well, okay, I am a screenwriter, it’s my job to be dramatic -- but I was about to pack it all in an quit the other day, give up on writing for good.

Anyone who chooses a creative path in life is asking for trouble if not a lot of ups and downs. The last time that I wrote, I discussed the inherent nature of collaboration that is part of being a screenwriter: I write something and then someone else sees something else in it and uses it as the basis for a movie.

I was cool with it then but I am less cool now. That’s about all that I can say about it for now. In 2006, I was hired to write a screenplay. By the time the film was produced, the directed had rewritten my screenplay to the point that my original work was unrecognizable. In 2009, okay, not unrecognizable as my screenplay but tweaked in a direction that I did not intend it to go in. In 2011...sigh. I don’t know, maybe I really do suck as a writer if I keep writing screenplays that people want to produce once they have removed most if not all traces of my work. Maybe I need to be making my own films.

So, the ups and downs keep coming.

A few weeks ago, I beat out 300 other writers for a playwriting job. Yes, a play. Why not? I did sign a non-disclosure agreement so I really shouldn’t be too specific about the show. I was going to be writing a one-man show based on the life of a famous American, the famous American’s famous relatives were going to be involved, an Oscar-winning actor was going to be approached about playing the role and the plan was to take it all to Broadway next year. All of the plans are still in place but I am no longer part of them. I took lunch with a well-known man-about-town here in Philly, did some research, wrote a proposal so that the show could be pitched to the famous relatives for their approval and, hopefully, financing. Unfortunately, nobody told the Tony nominated playwright/director that he would be collaborating with me and nobody knew that this guy does not collaborate with anyone. So, I’m out. Whatever. That’s a DOWN.

My “acting” “career” as detailed in my last post has returned to suspended animation. I deposited my last paycheck today. Exit Stage Left. Neither UP nor DOWN.

On Sunday, I got the word that I was chosen to write a really offbeat black comic murder mystery --- think Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rope” as written by Charlie Kaufman -- and I am psyched. Even though it doesn’t pay much, I really wanted this gig and was worried that I might not get it. In the end, I had a phone interview, sent in a sample screenplay and was asked to send in two more screenplays. It came down to me and another writer but I came out on top. Who cares about money, I won the contest, I’m the better writer or something like that. Call this one an UP.

So, despite losing control over a screenplay once again, I am going to say that the UPs are in the lead. I had a major creative breakthrough on a screenplay that I have been struggling with for months and, just this morning, I heard that some financiers in Miami are interested in my old, old neo-noir screenplay “Payday.”

Though it was 32 degrees this morning, spring is finally here, baseball season begins this week, stuff is getting ready to bloom, things are looking UP.