Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Producer Doesn’t Want the Script to Crash Either

eing a Hollywood outsider it seems likely that at some point I’m going to have to get on a plane.

Here’s the thing: I don’t know how to fly a plane.

It’s not that I wouldn’t care to learn. Just never been high on my list of priorities. As a result, I’m not super comfortable flying. Not because I’m worried the wings are going to fall off. Not because “it just doesn’t make sense that something so heavy can fly!” … Oy. No, I’m not comfortable flying because I’m not a pilot.

Arguably, it’s a control thing.

Got a call from Manager the other day– Okay, at this point I’m gonna go ahead and stop simplifying. Manager is actually two managers. Until now – for the ease of reading – I’ve been reducing them down to one person. Because until now they’ve always been on the line together. But recently I’ve been hearing from Manager’s protégé, Co-Manager, more often than Manager.

Am I being pawned off? Let’s save that for another day…

So Co-Manager calls me up the other day. Tells me the votes are in on my unpaid rewrite. And it’s a fail. They feel that what they loved about the original story is getting lost in the rewrite. (You mean all those notes you wanted me to massage into the script? Yeah. Love it. Classic. All the Hollywood bullshit that I’ve heard about coming true before my eyes.) Then he says we’ll set a conference call next week so that they can give me details. And then he’s gone.

First off, to any managers, producers, whatever out there: Don’t do this. And this seems like pretty good advice for life in general, not just screenwriters. Don’t call us up and say, hey, nobody’s happy with your work, it’s gotta be done again (for free) but I don’t have any details – you’ll have to wait a week for those – talk to you then!

It’s a shitty thing to do. A five minute heads up would’ve been just fine.

So I punished them.

Sort of. Technically I got a call to do a freelance gig next week. And those can get pretty time consuming. So I told them I wasn’t available for their notes meeting none the less. Not for another week.

If they want me to do another unpaid rewrite, it’s gonna at least be at my convenience. And it sure as hell isn’t gonna interfere with paid freelance work.

Of my discomfort with flying, a buddy once told me, “y’know, the pilot doesn’t want to crash any more than you do.”

That’s true. And would be somewhat reassuring if I had as much blind faith in strangers as my buddy apparently does. But reassuring or not, it does make the point that on the same airplane, the same journey, we’re all in it together.

And that’s what I’m taking into that next notes meeting. That despite how uncomfortable  this part of the process is making me, the pilot doesn’t want to crash any more than I do.

These producers may ask for changes then not like what their own changes have done to the script. May want free rewrite after free rewrite until it’s been watered down to blissful mediocrity. But they also know how to fly. And want to get to the same destination as me. I’m gonna try real hard to remember that.


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Oh Good, More Production Executives

emember group assignments in school?

Because I’m getting flashbacks.

With the fully executed option agreement (and some cold hard cash) on its way, the unpaid rewrite is about to get underway. I mentioned this before. That before the agreement-mandated paid rewrites, I’m expected to “implement” some of the optioning producer’s notes for free.

I’ve held off doing any such thing until I at least see some green.

But with that money finally on its way, everybody’s getting a little antsy. So a meeting was set. Me, Manager, Producer and a new name for me to remember: Producer Jr.

Now Producer Jr is new to the picture because with my script comes an entirely new production company.

Bear with me here as I explain: My manager is a producer. A well established, award winning producer as a matter of fact. He has made a first look deal with Producer, who is optioning my script. Now Producer is not as established as Manager. He’s also – like me – a foreigner. However, Producer has aligned himself with financiers – which as we know, is the other way to get noticed in Hollywood. So with financiers from his home country, Manager as a liaison to Hollywood, and my script as his flagship project, Producer is setting up a brand new production company in Los Angeles.

Literally leasing office space and hiring executives. That’s what’s going on right now. And the project set to launch this new shingle is none other than my script.

And only my script, or so Producer let slip during our last call.

So that’s either a big woohoo right there or a resounding errr what?

This isn’t to say the success or failure of this company depends on my script. At least I don’t think it does. What it means is… Well I’m not sure what it means. But sufficed to say I get the impression everybody really wants to put their best foot forward.

Enter, Producer Jr: The newly hired executive.

… And her notes.

More notes to implement into the script. Because everybody knows that what’s made every great work of fiction last throughout the ages, is lots of notes from people who aren’t writers.

They make it too easy to be a little snarky. So I’ll try to keep that to a minimum.

But it was a little like being in school again. Doing a group assignment. Everybody bringing their own ideas to the table when we all know that ultimately only one person’s going to wind up doing all the work. And that was me by the way. I was that kid. (Which sucked for everyone because I was a mediocre student at best. That always seemed to surprise the lazy kids in the group who didn’t do any work. People always assume the introvert is the smartest guy in the room, but that’s not necessarily the case… What was I saying?)

Right. Group assignments. I guess that’s the deal. And I’m not going to resist it. This isn’t a great work of fiction after all. It’s a screenplay. And I’m lucky as hell to have so many people even reading my work. And on a conference call talking about my work. Staking the reputation of their newly minted production company on my work.

So I’ll be the group assignment nerd who gets saddled with the real work. I’ll scuttle off and do my best to make the whole team look good. And I’ll do it gladly.

Juuuust as soon as the check clears.


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My Incredibly Anticlimactic Option Agreement Signing

ver seven months later and the agreement to option my screenplay is finally, irrefutably complete! About three months ago, this document had officially taken longer to write than the script itself. Negotiation, haggling over deal points, arguing over language… Seven months.


Lawyer sent me the documents this week. Finally. In my hands. The dotted line begging for my throbbing John Hancock.

For many, this tantric act of anticipation may have led to a premature eruption of ink across the page.

But I’ve always had the irritating habit of thoroughly reading through anything I’m asked to sign. Even after waiting the better part of a year for it. I’m the guy who holds up the line anywhere you’re issued a liability waiver.

And of all the legal docs I’ve read, let me just say, this one’s a fun read. Like a horoscope written in legalese.

A proper option to purchase agreement and writer’s deal memo cover everything. Every what-if possibility should my script get turned in a film. There are clauses in this thing for my hotel accommodations for the premiere. Dollar amounts for what I’ll receive on a per episode basis if a television series is ever based on the film.

Every possibility.

An excuse, if ever there was, for little day dreaming.

Of course, until about a thousand more things go just right, it’s all just fantasy.

Still, fun read.

Until I got to the part where they misspelled my name.


I’ve mentioned my name before haven’t I? It’s apparently the most deceptively simple name in the Western world.

The next thought to cross my mind was: Seven months.

It took these legal eagles seven months to get these pages into my hands… How long was it going to take them to fix this?


How important is getting my name right in this thing, really?


Yeah… It’s probably pretty important.

Damn it.

I emailed Lawyer. Joked that if it’s gonna take another month to fix it then maybe I should just scratch out the error and initial it. Ha!

You know what he told me to do? Do to this immaculate document that took longer to write than my glorious script itself? To this contingency bible of what-if possibilities that will guide the course of this project for years, if not decades to come?

Scratch out the error and initial it. That’s what he told me to do.

Done. Deal.

I signed that bitch and put it in the mail.

Now I’m waiting on Producer’s signature. Full execution of the agreement. And only then comes payday. A token sum at this stage, but still; evidence that this is real.

After this long a process it’s kind of an anticlimactic resolution. Just more little steps really. Probably indicative of how things will continue to rock from here. Little steps.

But hey, beats the hell out of standing still.


Filed under The Journey