Nice

Do you remember the very last Calvin and Hobbes?  I don’t have it handy, but it talks about all the possibilities that await you/us out there.  How metaphoric.

That’s how LUCY is starting to shape up.  The more I think about what I could do with this, the more positive it feels.  To quote Steve Allen, this could be the start of something big.

No, really.

The writing group came over last night.  If we were able to stay a little more focused, we’d get a lot more done.  But I digress.

There were only five of us, and everybody ‘checks in,’ which means they give a little update as to where they are with their material.  A status update, I guess.

So when it came to me, I explained how I was abandoning BABY LIKES JAZZ because of my inability to write comedy, then explained how I came up with LUCY STEELE.

It got a positive, enthusiastic response.  Which was awesome.  They liked the concept, the story (such as it was) and the potential.  All of which I am also excited about.

I started compiling a list of everything that could possibly be connected with this story, including whatever I could think of regarding westerns, trains, post-Civil War America, and so on.  Not surprisingly, the list keeps getting longer.  Although I don’t plan to use everything, a lot of it could factor in somehow.

I feel like I’m on the cusp of having a plot-point outline done; still needs some fine-tuning.  Once that’s ready, I’m hoping a lot of it falls into place.

I’ve also been trying to figure out supporting cast, but I really want to have fun with this, so I may let my imagination run wild on this.  For some reason, the idea of a medicine show huckster-type character popped in and won’t go away.  That could work.

And a bounty hunter.  And a handsome authority-type figure (US marshal/cavalryman/etc).  Still working on those.

I’m also reminded of how much I enjoyed CAT BALLOU, which is also one of K’s favorites.  An often-overlooked western-comedy with the surprisingly-funny Lee Marvin and a catchy theme song.  I think I’ll have to watch that again to get a better sense of a female protagonist up against tremendous odds.

Once I get started, I suspect writing this may be as fun as DREAMSHIP was.

Not to get ahead of myself, but maybe this could be THE ONE that does it for me.  And that would TOTALLY AWESOME.

Of course, I have to write the damn thing first.  Well, one step at a time.

-Once again, I did not win the logline contest.  Ugh.  I’m seriously considering giving up entering.  Or at least giving it one or two more tries, THEN giving up.

I feel refreshed! Rejuvenated!

I was going to just jump into BABY LIKES JAZZ, then decided I really needed a basic outline.

Then I remembered: I already have one!

I had completely forgotten I wrote it just over a month ago.  There were some tweaks and adjustments here and there, but I think it’s in pretty good shape.

Now I need to figure out if I use that to start on pages, or flesh it out a little bit.  If I can remember to make sure almost every scene has a joke, then I’ll be set.

Sometimes it really does amaze me when I find something I’d written weeks, or even months before, and the material still works; possibly even better than I expected.

That feels really cool.

Knowing me, I’ll probably want to flesh it out a little bit, but not too much.  If I really throw myself into this, there’s no reason it couldn’t be done relatively soon, which in itself is a relative term.  Although it WOULD be cool to go into the holiday season with at least a first draft done.

-I was thinking about this earlier regarding the writing group.  Some of the people are really good and offer great feedback.  My problem, and I’m sure it’s this way for others, is the lack of consistency in terms of meeting.  I say set up a time that works best for a majority of the members, and leave it at that.  If somebody can make it, great.  If not, better luck next time.

I thrive on feedback, and when I don’t get it, I start to doubt my abilities.  And I do not like that.

Did I mention I’m feeling really good right now?  Like I can take on the whole Empire and all that.

Fingers firmly crossed hoping it lasts.

No Movie of the Moment, but we watched another episode of PUSHING DAISIES last night.  The writing on that show was simply incredible.  Clever, smart, original and other words of high praise.

 

Decisions, decisions

I finally got the contract for the Bollywood script.

But now I’m not so sure.

See, when I first applied, I said I’d be happy with a ‘Written By’ credit.  And that’s what I’m being offered.  No pay.  No points.  No percentage of the gross.  Some words on a screen.

Have I truly screwed myself over?  Seems like it.

Just about everybody I’ve spoken with says things like ‘if you’re not getting paid, then you’re a producer,’ and ‘sounds like another scam preying on unsuspecting, naive, willing writers’.  I’m inclined to think both are accurate.

Granted, the person did say this was a low-budget film.  AND they appear to be based out of Martinez; not exactly a filmmaking hub.

There’s also this ‘stipulation’ that the story HAS to be 2 hours/120 pages long.  What if it doesn’t work out that way?  Do I get penalized for bringing it in at 104?  I’m under the impression a standard Bollywood-type film is 2 hours long.  Does it have to be?  Exactly?

Another red flag was the condition that apparently discussing the film with ANYBODY outside of the production (or at least this person) could bring down a $10,000 fine on yours truly.  Is this standard H’wood practice?

I haven’t signed anything.  Part of me says ‘walk away’.  Another part says ‘work on your negotiating skills’.  A very small part says ‘sign it and crank it out in 3 weeks.  What’s the worst that could happen?’  I’m not listening to that last one.

I’m considering sending the person a list of questions, like “Who’s funding this?” , “Is there a guarantee it’ll get made?”, “What happens if you don’t like it?  Do I have to do rewrites?”

I may have to send the contract to a former entertainment attorney I know and see what he says.  That would be helpful.

Almost forgot.  The story itself.

I won’t get into details here, but the contract had the story in one paragraph.  Overall, it was okay.  Nothing spectacular, but HOW DO YOU EXPECT TO GET A 2-HOUR MOVIE OUT OF ONE DINKY PARAGRAPH???

I wrote back, saying that wasn’t enough to go on.  The response was “I’m working on a 10-page treatment and will get it to you as soon as I can.”  Shouldn’t that have been there in the first place?  Or at least sent beforehand?

From the very beginning, I said I needed to see as much of the story as possible to get an idea of how to put it together.  And this is what I get?  Give me a break.

I’m sure this is probably par for the course in terms of how it works in the big time, but if you’re trying to put together a movie yourself, I would imagine you don’t want to piss off the writer.

I think my biggest decision is if I think going through all of this is worth it.  On one hand, there’s my chance to show I can write a script quickly.  It wouldn’t be perfect, but it would be done.

There’s the chance this thing may actually get made, although I still have doubts.  What if it never gets made?  Also a sad reality of the industry.

But what if it does?  In what way would this impact me getting into the Writers Guild?  I think it has to be a studio film for automatic admission, so maybe this would be worth points towards reaching that.  I’ll have to research that.

Having an actual film credit would also make me stand out more when applying for other gigs, especially regarding query letters and trying to get representation.  That would be awesome.

I’m not even going to get into the issue of having somebody else rewrite it.  The less said, the better.

I think for now I’ll wait, not signing anything and seeing what happens.

While all the while, I’ll be working on my own stuff.  Which is really how it should be.

Hmmm…

I think I mentioned there was this listing on Craigslist last week for somebody looking for a writer to put together a ‘mash-up’ story involving the Old West, goth horror and martial arts.

So I wrote in, expressing interest.  The guy wrote back relatively quickly and included his 20-page treatment.

It was interesting.  But I’m not sure so much backstory has to go into a treatment.  I always thought it was more or less a prose-style summary of the story being told on the page.  I’ll have to look into that.

But getting back to his treatment…

I think there’s something wrong when you don’t get to the main story until the middle of the 4th single-spaced page OF THE TREATMENT!  Way too much stuff beforehand that can easily be summed up in a scene or two.  And a whole lot of info about characters who are killed within a few pages.  Why so much?

I’m sure every writer is sick of hearing this, but there’s definitely a lot of potential in this thing.  It’s all a question of putting it all together.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a solid main storyline.  More like a lot of vignettes with a barely-there common thread.  And there are some scenes that seem to come out of nowhere.  For example: the lesbian love affair between the 2 main female characters.  How did this happen?  I hope it’s not just an excuse to have a nude scene.  There are more creative and story-based ways to do that.

So for the next day or two, I’ll be working on my scene.  I’m looking at this more like an exercise than a job application; a way to test/flex my writing muscles.

The guy asked about how much I thought it would cost, and I really had no idea.  I still don’t.  Is it by the hour?  By the page?  K suggests I ask for a co-writing credit.  If the guy is going to submit it to competitions or even take it out for representation, I think I’ll have earned at least my name in the mix.

And I wouldn’t say no to some cash either…

Almost forgot. I also wrote to that just-graduated film student looking for a ‘professional’ to proofread his script. I offered myself up for the gig.  I’ll be surprised if he responds, and even more surprised if he says yes.  I bet he won’t, but you never know.

Movie of the Moment:  We’ll probably watch the new episode of VENTURE BROS later.  I hope it’s better than last season; way disappointing.

But I can’ t recommend PUSHING DAISIES enough.  The writing and acting on it are so well done.  I think the fact it’s a smart, clever show that requires you to think is why it didn’t do well.  But we like it.

Since it’s only one season, which is about 12-13 shows, I’m trying to figure out what show to do next.  I keep going back and forth between BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and MAD MEN.  Decisions, decisions.

ENTOURAGE ended with Vince’s career in coke-fueled limbo and Ari’s marriage in trouble.  Virtually nothing about Drama. Turtle and this whole tequila thing – boring.  And E may have to sign a pre-nup.  I thought this show was about their lives in the industry.  That comment I read about this being SEX AND THE CITY for guys is becoming more true.  Now I just have to wait until next season…