The great majority of what’s going on actually has very little to do with my screenwriting career. It’s all kinds of other stuff. Good stuff actually.
See, when I set my sight on Hollywood I chose screenwriting as the tool that would get me in the door. But I never saw myself solely as a screenwriter. I love writing, directing right through to editing. Anyone who’s done all of them will tell you they’re all very much the same thing and yet entirely different. They’re all three ways of telling and re-telling the same story.
Anyway, screenwriting was it. It’s inexpensive to pursue and is the creative root of the industry. I didn’t know what to expect from a literary manager I just knew that I needed to go after one. Of the holy trinity of people to query with my scripts – producers, agents and managers – lit managers seemed like the most approachable. At the very least, I wanted a guide who could help me navigate these uncharted waters.
When I found Manager I was excited. When Manager told me I’d never have to send out another query letter (he’d handle that from now on), I was ecstatic.
Then things kind of fizzled.
My interactions with Manager were few and far between. Early on – a year ago now – he’d often ask me what I was working on. I’d put new scripts into his hands as often as possible. But not so often as to overwhelm or to ask too much. I know my place in the pecking order.
Then things got complicated.
Manager is a producer on the script he helped me option. That’s complicated enough. But things got doubly complicated once the rewriting process on that script began. Because the focus was on this one optioned project, attention fell away from all of my newer scripts. Manager hasn’t asked what I’m working on in six months.
None of my new scripts have been sent out to new producers in over a year. Not since I stopped querying them myself.
But I get it: Get this one successful project off the ground, and we won’t have to query. Producers and agents will be coming to us. I get it…
… It just feels like my place in the pecking order is really being underscored a little too strongly.
I’m a patient man, but I’ve never been one to wait.
In the past few weeks things have not been going well with the optioned script. The Producer has made demands that equate to a page one rewrite. Which – I know – happens. But with investors lined up to get involved in this project it’s truly a bizarre turn of events.
I’d love to ask Manager about it. But it’s become increasingly clear that I’ve been punted to Co-Manager, Manager’s junior partner.
Or so I thought.
I went into the latest conference call with the optioning Producer feeling pretty isolated. With Manager, Co-Manager, Producer and Producer Jr. all on one side of the table, I was alone again. Square one. Where was my guide? Who had my back?
I pled my case. Gave them the best arguments I could for why – even while implementing their notes – most of the script’s structure could be salvaged if they were just willing to flex on one critical note. This one note that was threatening to undo everything we had.
I knew I had logic on my side but in a (virtual) room full of producers what good would that do me?
That’s why I was stunned to hear Manager chime in and agree with me. Back my case. Then came Co-Manager. Both of them stepping up – out of nowhere – and brainstorming ideas that would facilitate a new draft of the script rather than hinder it.
We tag-teamed the shit out of that meeting. I felt like a million bucks hanging up that phone.