Funny thing about blogging. At first you think someone gives a shit and then you’re concerned no one gives a shit. And then you don’t give a shit. I took a break from the blog and the twitter (just started a new account (WHY!?!?!)) and went into the woods and just concentrated on screenwriting and the fresh hell of movie financing.
But here’s a snapshot of the last 18 months or so…
You find yourself picking up body armor to wear to a play premiere where you've received back door death threats. Legit death threats. Part of you think, Yes! I've made it! The other part thinks where the hell do I get body armor.
But an increased FBI presence thwarts any nonsense. I’m not really a political writer so the fact something as controversial (non) as a Civil Rights events that happened over 50 years ago still rattles some cages is both tiresome and cliché. But makes for a good bar story.
The even better part is finding out you were betrayed on the project by relatives of the subject matter whom tried to copyright the play in their names. Seriously. Fortunately the powers that be at the Library of Congress did their homework and contacted us. Matter resolved. Funny thing is that family had a supporter ready to write the check ( a big check) to tour the play, but they killed the goose.
An MFA colleague get his book of short stories picked up. It’s a book you tried to publish yourself based on the pure talent behind the stories. He declines. It’s a wise decision as your would be partner is a flake and disappears into a bar in Memphis never to return. The new cover is gorgeous and you can’t help but feel some pride for him and the material. (I don’t write short stories so the professional jealousy is minimal).
Another gets her book picked up. You’re happy for her, though the process is painful to watch as she’s a newbie. She calls you about screenwriting as a producer is interested in an adaptation.
And then you find a rough screenplay in your inbox from a colleague asking you to join in on a project. “Do your thing.” Six months later you’re meeting an Oscar-winning director who loves the draft and is now officially attached to said project. Welcome to THE FACE OF EMMETT TILL.
You submit the paperwork with your partner for your new endeavor SKYLAND PICTURES.
Financing is almost locked.
You travel to Scotland and Ireland.
You wear a kilt, because you can.
You eat haggis without realizing it.
Your tour the Highlands where there’s a postcard view around every corner.
You read Yeats in the square at Trinity College in Dublin.
You sip single malt while over looking Dublin Bay.
You share a mutual birthday week beer and a shot with your sister in a pub in Killarney.
And then you come back.
And financing falls through.
It’s no big deal but your birthday is around the corner and this was going to be a bigger one, one of those ending in a 5 and the last before the one that start with a 5. You think of Mamet’s writing about being on a movie set, still thinking of himself as ‘the Kid’ at 50 and realizing his crew was 25 years his junior. To the dismay of a few people you eschew any gatherings and opt instead to buy a ticket to the movies solo. It’s the rebroadcast of Monty Python’s last show at the O2. It’s mildly enjoyable. Especially when Cleese goes up on his lines.
You find yourself ready to throw in the towel again (Crom help me, I think I wrote a blog about this kinda thing before).
I wish I wasn't a writer. I wish I didn't have that gene.
But if I’m not working on a project. I feel life passing me by. I feel as though I am wasting opportunities and time.
But when this shit happens and it does, I feel like life is passing me by. I feel as though I am wasting opportunities and time.
Balance, you say?
Yes, you’re right. Balance. That’s all you need.
Meanwhile an update of projects:
THE MARKER – on hold.
THE FACE OF EMMETT TILL – Director attached, post reading draft in process. Several entities considering it. One left us at the altar.
SRJ – Doors shut. Doors open. We keep knocking.
FALL- hit #500 on the Amazon best seller list in Sept 2012. I stalled on the sequel for technical reasons, but found myself writing a prequel and being pleased with it. A couple of screenwriting opportunities moved it to the back burner and now it is heating up again. Thankful for the few fan emails I still receive. But missing the royalties… Also, it’s a project that requires only me. I can write, edit, source out the book cover, and publish both e-book and print on my own. After doing the same with two other books, I know how to keep cost down and where to spend the money. So back to the prequel/sequel. It’s been a fun challenge world-building.
FOUNTAIN – never hit or sparked. Looking back on it, it was audacious, perhaps a bit overwrought like DFW, but I’m still proud of that book, the philosophy, the characters, the plot machinations, the sheer ballsiness of it. etc. One day I’ll get it in print form, but technical things like footnotes etc and links may hamper it. It did get me through grad school, got me some nice attention. But graduation happens.
KILLING LUCIFER – What? What is this project? Well, it was my very first play. And about 8 years ago a writing partner and I tried to adapt it for the screen. Got to a certain point and then who knows what happened. I don’t remember. I think we hit a bit of a roadblock and then both got distracted with other projects. But then midst all this other movie financing nonsense, I was asked to pitch ASAP a low-budget(ish) movie for a director that wants to move fast. There’s money available. Distribution. Again ASAP.
Next thing I know I’m sending this draft off for coverage and notes. A draft I knew was close, but hey what the hell. The notes come back and for once, I agree with all. I get a call from a meeting asking for the next draft ASAP. I cut a couple of scenes and tighten a throughline, and instead of playing subtle with a plot point I make it a MOMENT that echoes. And I add an emotional beat from the play that I sorely missed and realized the screenplay needed. I finish the draft two hours later. It is sent out before they get home from the meeting. The reread comes back with a thumbs up and the new coverage and draft go out to the director...
Who is now currently traveling in Europe and may not read it for a month.
Which in some circles is ASAP.