Monday, January 20, 2014

Finish the old and plan the new...

As I've mentioned before, I've been working on a screenplay for an actor and a friend who's a director with the object of making the screenplay in late fall or later. The good news is that I finished the screenplay and the actor and director liked what I did.

The funny thing is that I still get nervous and anxiety-ridden when I have to finally hand over the screenplay to someone, even after all these years and dozens of screenplays, most of which were never made.

When it's more personal, as both the actor and director are friends, I get more afraid that they will be disappointed. If it were a basic writing job, I don't really get nervous, I just tell the producer I've finished and where's the check.

Obviously with friends it's a little more awkward. What if they don't like it? I don't know how other writers do it, but for me it's always nerve-wracking.

So, they liked it, at least the actor did, the director hasn't read it yet as far as I know. But the project is driven by the actor, it was his story and even though we're all committed to work on the project, I'm pleased that he likes it. It is his story, as interpreted by me. 

When it comes time to hand it over to the director to film, I hand it over. There's an old saying that the first draft is the writer's, the second draft is the producer's, the third draft is the director's and the last draft is the actors.

After that, there is a variety of people who get to have input, some directors don't like the writer on set, but I feel that they're more insecure or don't really like to share the work. As I've directed three movies as well as a hundred or so commercials, I invite everyone on the crew to offer ideas, I realize that I'm not the smartest person around and I can always learn from someone else.

I've also worked with good directors who don't mind me being around. Actually I don't really like being on set anyways, because it means two things; that they're going to ask me to fix up some scenes, or they're not going to ask me and I hang around the craft services table eating food all the time.

I'd just as soon go home.

So what do I think of the screenplay?

I think it's not bad, not great, and maybe it can use a little more input from one or more of the above-the-line people, meaning actor, director and/or producer. I've mentioned that term before, and to refresh some of you, it relates to the "creative people" on a movie or TV show. In other words, the director, the producer and the actors.

But that's another blog.

For now, I'm planning the projects I have in front of me:

1. Continue to work with the WW11 pilot who's 90 yrs old. I want to finish his book and possibly do a documentary. I'll be filming his interview next week.

2. Write a new screenplay. I'm thinking of a Mars movie.

3. I have to work more on my two books; Emperor of Mars and The Working Writer's Screenplay, both of which need more attention in order to sell more.

4. I've started to write my "bathroom book", a collection of stories from all the roadtrips I've done in the last 30 years, entitled "How To Not Get Beat-up In A Smalltown Bar."

5. A possible novelization of my screenplay Secrets of The Salmon, a drama situated along the Oregon coast. This screenplay was optioned at ABC.

If you haven't noticed, there's one thing in common with all of the above. I'm not getting paid. Actually I'm spending money on all of those projects.

But not to worry as I do have a few projects that could be made this year with two producers interested and even taking the screenplays to financiers.

At least that's what they say. 

And producers never lie... do they?

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