Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Back from San Clemente and San Diego, had a great tour of the USS Midway aircraft carrier and got to talk with pilots, learned how they land and take-off, amazing stuff.

And now back to the projects at hand.

I get asked often what I'm doing and like most writers say that I have a few things "in development". Which mostly means I am not earning money at this time. Real development  means someone is paying me to do a rewrite or a polish on either my screenplay or someone else's.

I just finished a rewrite for someone else, a romantic comedy that I didn't think I could do as I don't think I'm all that romantic nor comedic. The interesting thing about it was that once I started,  my life experience hard drive kicked in and I had no problem writing a genre I thought I couldn't.

And it was because I realized quickly that romantic comedies aren't really comedies, at least not in the style of Mike Meyers or Jim Carrey. Mostly "rom-coms" as they're called are about people falling in and out of love with a few funny bits but mostly about the formula.

One of the oldest explanations of "the formula" is simply this; boy meets girl - boy gets girl - boy loses girl - boy and girl come together. That's the basic formula for every rom-com ever made. And of course that includes girl meets boy or girl meets girl or boy meets boy or dog meets cat, whatever you want.

But right now, I'm trying to put together 3 feature-length films, as you may have read in the previous blog. Here's the progress of each as of today.

Travel Day (TD) was supposed to film January of this year but a Canadian tax deal fell through due to a Cdn producer who didn't deliver. As a result I pushed TD back to winter 2010 and am, at present, dealing with a producer who is taking the script to several name actresses who might consider the role.

Like who? Well, I have 2 Academy nominees now interested but the producer wants to get better names, meaning more recognizable actresses. The role is the main lead of the story and is supposed to be a famous name actress now at the age of 60 who isn't getting the parts she used to.

This opens us to a large number of women in Hollywood or Europe, and the greatest obstacle is finding one who doesn't mind playing her age. It's still true that women, after the age of 40, begin losing lead roles and start playing the mother and/or grandmother.

There's always Meryl Streep, who at 60 is the exception. Maybe Julia Roberts too. Even Cameron Diaz is beginning to show her age.

Regardless, I feel that a lot of women from mid 50's to early 60's would want to play this role as it's a good part and a lead role. Lead roles are usually preferred than supporting roles. Once a star, always always a star.

The major obstacle here is the budget. I want to do this for under $1 million, which means the salaries would be SAG scale, around $2,000 a week. For 4 wks. $8,000 for the whole movie. Plus benefits and some overtime.

Most star salaries are in the millions of dollars and even faded stars can get hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So why do this little movie that Shirley and I want to make?

Once again, it's a lead part and a good part for whomever wants to do it. It's all about credits on IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base), that monster website that details careers of actors, writers, directors and anyone else associated with movies.

You're only as good as your credits. 

And that means the older your last role was, the less anyone wants you. I haven't had a movie made in 5 years which makes me about as desireable as last years iPhone. But the one thing writers can do is go into "development" on their own project. I don't often do this, but I do have on development project on IMDB which at least suggests I'm not dead.

But if you're an actor with your last credit 2 or 3 years ago, you're almost considered washed up. There are some who manage to keep working, take Betty White and Cloris Leachman, they always work. But again, they're the exception.

So this is where we are on TD; letting another producer take a run at getting a bigger name actress who wants a lead role and wants to work for less money than her make-up person would usually make and who will be willing to not expect 1st class hotel suites and airfares and other perqs.

We're talking about the Jacqueline Bissets, the Faye Dunaways, Diane Keatons.

Some of my friends tell me we'd never get women that high up on the food chain. Maybe we're looking too high for such a small movie. But you never know who might just say ok.

After all, as William Goldman said about the movie business; "Nobody knows anything."

(Thurs: Casualties of Love)

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