Monday, April 14, 2014

Done deal

Well, finally after telling you about my projects and hoping they get picked up, I finalized a deal last Thursday for Travel Day, a screenplay that was "in development" for several years until someone picked it up and read it and wanted to make it.

That's how it goes sometimes. It only took 8 years.

But it's not going "to camera" just yet.

I've talked about how long it could take a screenplay to get made, even after it's been optioned. An option for those who aren't familiar is this; a producer pays around 10% of the script fee in which producer gets to have an "exclusive" on that script, which is often called "the property".

What do I mean by "around 10%"?

Producers don't want to pay anything for an option, and I've probably had maybe 100 or more producers who wanted to own the script for free.  Writer's Guild members get at least 10%, but producers will still try to talk you down. I've had options for $1 now and then but also knowing that the movie wouldn't get made because the producer didn't have the money or the clout.

That 10% means that the producer has an "exclusive", meaning that only he can show the screenplay around in the hopes of getting interest from the money people. They can be a studio, a network, independent producers who have money or someone who already has the financing.

My last produced movie, Town That Christmas Forgot, waited for almost 6 years to get made and when it was optioned, they began filming within 3 months. That wasn't the fastest either.

The fastest script going to production was a Lifetime movie I wrote in 2 weeks. That's right, 2 weeks. When I finished it on a Friday I handed it to an Assistant Director and on Monday they were shooting. They cast it during the two weeks I wrote it.

How could I do it that fast?

I was always fast as a writer, even in grade school, mostly because I just wanted to get it over with. And I did have an idea for this story which was eventually called Betrayal of Silence. I got the idea while crossing Colorado years ago and heard a news radio broadcast about the head a church who was accused by a young girl to have raped her. But nobody believed the girl.

Having been raised Catholic, I was curious about the story and it stayed with me. The first draft that I wrote was the draft they filmed. And the irony is that I watched it a few months ago and it still holds up. 2 weeks work.

There's another story on how long it takes to make a movie which is the opposite of 2 weeks. It's one I rewrote from another writer and it took about 15 rewrites. But that's another story.

Travel Day is based on a true story. It's about three people driving from the city into the country. Exciting, huh?

Well, what if the three people are traveling to a distant location where they will be working on a movie.

Still not excited?

What if one of them is a famous actress who is getting old. And another is a young actor just beginning his career. And the other man is a driver taking the other two to the film location.

There's a little setup there. But there's more --

What if they see a young girl who looks helpless and who they realize is running away from home.

A little more interesting, maybe?

And throw all of these people into a passenger van and see what happens.

And I won't even tell you about the basketball playing chicken. Or maybe I might.

(* used my 35mm Ricoh film camera to take the photo above)

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