Let's talk about another script. We'll call it The Hanging Man.
THM is a script that was pitched to me post wrap of my first feature. I was hired to write a treatment for a treasure of the sierra madre/killer in the woods type mash-up. The treatment was originally called Equinox. I liked it well enough, but I've never been good at writing or interested writing that gang of stupid college kids. But as my good buddy DC says, everything is an experiment. Give it a shot.
The treatment was received well enough, but a killer in the woods and treasure story are a little harder to balance than you think. Nothing moved forward.
Flash forward a couple of years. Said producer emailed and wanted to make a movie dammit. Three characters in the woods, shoestring budget, damn the torpedos. Cool. It's time for Action! I brought in my buddy Don Grail who excels in the action genre and we set out to outline a cool little movie.
After a few drafts of the outline and many cell phone minutes and back and forths we were given the greenlight to write the thing. We did and I was very pleased with the first draft, knowing it needed a bit of work but finding some really cool gruesome scenes. Something I think the genre fans would be very pleased with. And there was some great MOVIE dialogue. Cool, gritty one-liners. I knew our producer would love it.
So we submitted the script. (and I think our own rewrite notes).
Finally, Don called and got into an awkward conversation with the producer. He hated it. Was completely disappointed.
There wasn't anything in there that wasn't in the outline.
Nine months later we get the call/email that the script is back on and is looking for a rewrite. There was a deadline too. Over the holidays. Now we had long since passed our obilgation to do a rewrite, but this is a business of relationships. I can't remember what happened next, but eventually we gave our blessing for the producer to find someone else to do the rewrite based on our notes and then we'd do a quick dialogue polish-- that's where I'm money (actor bait=actors=financing).
I think that was two years ago. Maybe a year and a half ago. No longer is this a shoestring. No longer am I being considered to direct. We've given notes a few times on the new drafts. Not sure any of mine were ever incorporated. Which makes the demand for a quick turnaround on notes a little irritating. Also, one of the more unique scenes was removed. Sadly. No faith.
Finally, having read the last draft I again offered my services to do a polish. It's my name on the piece and I'll be damned if it's not going to have something left of mine. Besides the rewrite guy is good. The action reads like a dream, but again with Character and Dialogue I'm money (actor bait=actors=financing). A lot of the awkward emotional beats and transitions can be fixed with dialogue beats. You can also 3D the characters up. Make them capable of surprises.
The offer for said polish was accepted. With a loose understanding that it would only take a few days.
Well, that was a few weeks ago. I received a draft to start polishing and was then told to HOLD. Said producer is expecting coverage from two coverage giving places and he suspects another rewrite. Not sure why the rush to go to coverage with a script in obvious need of a polish.
There's such a thing as a script being over developed and that's what I fear has happened here. Too many notes, tweaky things back and forth. And I'm still not sure the spine of the thing works. The two genres as written seem a little incongruent for a 90 minute movie. Some of the sequences rock, but overall I'm not convinced it holds water.
Sadly, this little genre project has been around for 3 1/2 years without ever leaving the starting block. Except for "coverage" which I can tell you what they're going to say.
It hasn't been as bad as AWOL BLUES which due to the nature of the story and current events had to evolve into its current form. And in the end, the script has been a small blessing (this will be another blog).
I take that back. AWOL was hell. A personal writing hell.
But I guess the attention and meetings it's gotten me and my co-writer Mark Glinski (brought in to help with a page one rewrite after many drafts) some very cool meetings and open doors (Joel Schumacher, Jeremy Garelick) and was probably the script that got me the next gig... (and another one SELMA). Guess we got out of that hell. Thanks, Smelly.
But all this THM nonsense is balanced out by the ease and dream experience of working on
STRAIGHT RAZOR JAZZ...
(to be continued)