Every writer, pro or amateur asks their selves one thing. Is this any good? Is that first five pages you're looking at good enough to carry a hundred pages or so?
Or the first ten, or the first fifty pages?
Or even the finished product?
Having written 38 spec screenplays in about 20 years or so, I think that probably, I have written maybe a dozen good scripts. Okay, maybe half that.
What were they about? What was the story?
How about a Christmas story, I did good with The Town Christmas Forgot, which I wrote as a spec and sold to Hallmark in 2010. This unsold one, called Christmas Carole (aka The California Christmas) was based on a movie with Debbie Reynolds which I always liked on Turner.
Then there's a true story, based on the mysterious murder of a young Scottish girl in a wealthy home which eventually led to drug smuggling in Vancouver. I really liked this script so much I went to the grave of the girl and sat down, asking her to tell me who killed her. Nobody ever knew. I would do that movie for nothing. It's very similar to Chinatown.
Then there's another favorite about a president of the U.S. has to get a new heart. I liked this story because I discovered that hearts aren't necessarily laying in ice, rather they can attach connections to the heart and keep it alive. Here's a reader's report:
“The premise of a presidential heart transplant is strong and commercial. It takes a personal need with a ticking clock, and transforms into a global crisis with a journey at its center. It's a smart base for an affordable political thriller which still has worldwide stakes. Making the protagonist a doctor was an intelligent decision, and introduces a fish out of water element that always plays well in a thriller. The setting - a chase from Paris to Luxembourg - is perfectly commercial.”
Then there's another; Secrets of the Salmon, a story about a woman returning back to her Washington state after twenty years to confront her father over a past sin. This one was actually optioned at ABC and had good comments by Jody Foster's company.
How about a 1950's gang story wherein an Italian hitman goes to Niagara Falls to kill a union organizer but accidentally saves the organizer and meets two women very much attached to themselves.Title is Side By Side which fits the last scene. Good reviews from Kevin Spacey's Trigger Street website.
“This thing is quite good”, “Reminded me a lot of Chinatown with it’s film noir slant and grotesque bizarre edge”, This script is great, the story is great”, The concept is original and although it made me a little uncomfortable at the beginning, the human aspect of it won me over,” “You’ve created the perfect film noir world, your penchant for character, mood and atmosphere became a very enjoyable experience,” “I read this story with the girl upstairs, we started reading yesterday and she came home and demanded we finish - the story had so captivated her imagination.” “The progress of the story became a very enjoyable experience” – Trigger Street.
Then there's Travel Day, a road picture where a once famous actress and a young male actor are driven to a distant location. One of the best scenes in it would have been great, wherein a chicken plays basketball. Sort of. Two Oscar nominated women wanted to play it but the money fell through.
The story came from a friend of mine who worked with me on a series. He was driven to a film location with a pretty famous actress of the 60's, both of them with a 70-year old location driver. The heart of the story was how the three of them handled each other on a winter day.
And finally, and of course, the favorite one is Emperor of Mars. And it's because it is the closest story to me even though I have used my life and friends lives and anyone else I notice who would be generous enough to let me use them. I wrote EOM way back in 1989 and most of you have probably heard a half dozen producers who tried to get it made. So I wrote the book. You can see the reviews of the book at the EOM card at the top.
Next will be the "B" movies, the ones that aren't quite as good as the ones above. And why they aren't.