Last week, I reread some old scripts I had written because, since I’m too lazy to research new ideas, I thought maybe I could adapt some preexisting material into a novel that somebody might actually want to read. And then something happened that has never happened before (and hopefully will never happen again): I started reading one script, and I got really into it, like I hadn’t written it, like I didn’t really know the story…and I really, really liked it.
When I finished—I read it in one sitting, which something I rarely do, especially with my own material, which I usually put down in disgust after five minutes and come back to it a few days later—I thought to myself, “This fucker’s a screenplay. I could turn it into a novel, but right now, as it stands, it is the best screenplay I’ve ever written, maybe it’ll make an above-average novel, but it’ll make a hell of a good movie.”
It was around this time that I realized I had abandoned Hollywood and my dream of becoming the world’s first rock-star screenwriter (Nick Cave doesn’t count). Because of this, there were a few contacts that would require a whole lot of effort to un-alienate. So I decided I’d go the easy route first, sorting through the stack of business cards and old emails to see if anyone I met Out There expressed even a remote interest in reading my script.
The first one I tried I thought would either be the easiest or the toughest sell: a friend of a friend, to whom I pitched not one but two scripts, who loved my ideas, loved my hilarious distillation of my even-more-hilarious scripts, and really acted like he wanted to read my stuff. Except that when I emailed him before—I heard nothing back. I tried emailing him several more times—even he told me upfront to “be persistent”—but I never heard a peep. After awhile, I gave up. “Fuck Hollywood!” I believe I said.
“So,” I thought, “I’ll just email him once a week for a month. If he doesn’t respond, I’ll start emailing him daily, until he’s so frustrated he’ll read the script just to shut me the damn hell up.” It was the perfect plan…
But wait, he wanted to read two scripts, and careful readers of this blog will note that I only mentioned one script I’ve ever written as being anything resembling “good.” What to do about that?
Fortunately, I had blanketed the Chicagoland with this script in the year and a half before I left for Hollywood. Everybody whose opinion I trusted was forced to a read a copy, and I kept working on it, trying to incorporate their suggestions and new ideas I had conceived (or new ideas I had conceived from a suggestion I found unusable), so by now…I still had a pretty piss-poor draft.
Over the weekend, I made it my mission to rewrite that motherfucker. It wouldn’t be perfect, it may not even be “good,” but hell, I read a lot of the shit that was being passed around Out There, and if nothing else, it would be better than that.
So I vomited out a new draft in about two days. It’s not really as amazing as all that—but, to be fair, it is sort of amazing—because I ended up keeping a lot of what was already there. It’s funny, but I wanted it to go to very, very, very dark and horrible places that I hadn’t yet taken it. Because I want to sell it in Hollywood, and nothing says “Hollywood” more than a script full of drug-addicted Satanists and implied rapists.
When I finished and reread it to my “good enough” satisfaction, I sent an email out on Tuesday, reminding this man of our history, of the stories I had told, and saying I had finished rewrites, so if he’s still interested, I’d send them over.
I wasn’t expecting to hear back at all, to be honest, but two hours later:
From: Big-Shot Producer
Date: January 10, 2006 12:48:38 PM CST
Subject: Email them!
Good hearing from you—we’ve been crazy with the release of [insert movie title], bunch of films in the works and starting up a TV show. Good problems to have but being short handed and short tempered I get overwhelmed.
Glad to hear that the drafts are done—absolutely email me the scripts! Attached is our standard release form—please simply fill in the blanks and attach it to your email when you submit your scripts. It is important too that you state in your email that you—have attached the submission release form— to your submission.
If you would also copy my assistant at <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Looking forward to getting them.
Partner / President & Ceo, [insert name of production company]
What… the fuck? I mean, seriously, this doesn’t really mean anything – yet?—but I was absolutely floored that I received such a prompt and interested response. Allow me to take out my crystal ball and predict the future: these scripts won’t sell. I didn’t really think they would—I was looking, primarily, for the opportunity to get my name out there and possibly get some rewrite work, or maybe even a (paid!) job on their development staff.
We’ll see how it goes. I don’t expect to hear back for a month or so, but I will keep you all updated on my (lack of) success in the movie business.
In the meantime, I’ll keep going to my shitty job, writing shitty songs to produce a shitty album while looking for a new shitty job.