Friday, May 15, 2015

More of the job I lost

So far you've learned about writer-killers and how they can spoil a screenplay mostly because they don't really help you along.

Sure, you just think that I'm just a poor sport and that they are the good guys.

Maybe they are, but Joe is known to tell writers like me (twice) very little except that he wants action, action, action. But once I started writing, he began changing everything I wrote. And the script analyst who seems like she's never done this job before, actually has never done this job before. I think she had a degree in music.

But getting down to the script, I felt from the beginning that it would not be a fun time. Here's why.

Some years ago I worked with a good producer named Steve. Steve read one of my scripts and that was enough for him. We talked about ideas and actually Steve came up with one. It was based on a screenplay that I wrote and directed called The Tower.

The Tower was a great idea, it was about technology in a office tower that uses heat from the bodies of people who work there everyday. This is actually real. But I made it for around $40,000 with a local TV crew and non-union actors and it turned out not that great.

Although one fan emails me now and then asking permission to re-do the film. 

Steve said I should write the version of The Tower the way I wanted. The deal was signed in a few days. I was going to rewrite a story for Paramount TV. 

Now here's the difference between Steve and Joe. Steve had his cards on the table from the very beginning, he liked the idea and most of all he trusted me. And I trusted him. I went away for a few weeks and wrote the script which was now called Dream House.

Steve read it, gave me a few things to change and that was it. I even ended up in Canada where they were shooting Dream House and did a few changes.

See how easy it is when you have someone who you can trust and who isn't afraid that you're going to take their movie away and say that you don't get their idea.

Remember this; Joe's first meeting with me rendered two things; 

1. Family in jeopardy.
2. Bad guys after them.
3. Woman is lead.
4. Thriller.

So there you go. That's the whole story. That's all he said.

What's missing?

A story. 

Sure, that's my job. But whenever I wrote something, Joe didn't like it. Then I rewrote and he didn't like it. Then they gave me some money and I didn't like it. Then he changed the entire treatment and I had to start over again.

And he didn't like it.

Notice the difference between Steve and Joe?

I remember a story from a director friend of mine where a producer kept after the writer to write "those precious pearls" that writers do.

So you can see this job was not going to work out, I didn't trust Joe for anything, even going back to the time he went into his office saying that he had a Canadian writer who's going to write a script for free. And that was about 20 years ago.

Some people never change.

So what does a writer do when he's fired. The very nice script analyst called me and softly said they were going with another writer.

It was a job but we didn't see eye to eye on the story and it would never really work out anyways. I've worked with mostly good producers and when you're working with someone who's confident and will let you do your job, well, it's a lot of fun. 

When you work with someone who doesn't trust you, nor anyone else, and who talks behind your back, it's not fun. And for the book, I'm not the only one who thinks like me.

Bottom line is that he will make his movie and in the end it doesn't really matter to him, me or you.

The next day I started a screenplay that I've been wanting to write as a spec, which I prefer because there aren't a lot of Steves out there in the big bad world.

I have three ideas floating around Hallmark.

And maybe I just might write my Christmas script.

Christmas on Mars.


1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry you lost that job, Jim, but you seem able to let it wash off you like water off a duck's back. I've never been fired - yet - but I have known a few actors who have and it really hurt them. Another guy I knew was in a TV play/movie when there was an impending strike. They rehearsed for some time and within a few days of the studio day the strike happened and the job was called off - he was as upset after that as if he had personally been fired.