Friday, July 31, 2009

AWOL Blues: Part II (The Room)

It is soul crushing.

Fucking soul crushing.

I'm talking broken spirit epic. And yet, it happened with a quiet email.

And so I quit. I quit writing.

See in the couple of years from when I started to get the script into fighting shape, several Iraqi themed movies tanked. Actually, all of them. So there we are excellent script and dick in hand. And no movie.

So I quit the biz. I quit writing. I told myself to live a year without the fucking pencil or staring at a computer screen or blank page. But what to do now? So many thing... so I learned the bass guitar. I joined a cover band. I gardened. I experimented successfully with and made my own BBQ sauce (DBQ- Red Eye Jack ad Smokey Bee). I lived an external present in the moment life and it was amazing. Huh... so this is what regular people do.

But you know the script is just sitting there and someone mentioned the Nicholl Fellowship contest the big Academy sponsored screenplay contest. I remember thinking when is that deadline only to look it up online and see that it was THAT day. Through a mishmash of electronic shuffling and faxing, credit cards and dropped elevator calls Mark and I get both LA and Chicago signatures on the application and submit the script at the deadline.

Cut to: a few months later. We make the QF. The first time I've/we've done so. It's 50/50 for the next cut and for whatever reason we don't make it. We'll have to be happy with the top 5%. But getting that first letter and reading it to Mark over the phone was a nice moment. A few months later we start getting emails asking to read the script. It's flattering, but know the end result: it's not commercial enough. It's actor'award bait, but not the time.

But the thing about screenwriting and movies is nothing is ever really dead. And the path is never clear or predictable. At my shitty day job, a junior broker here and I chat occasionally and he mentions his buddy from college is in the biz. Turns out he's a successful screenwriter having been Joel Schumacher's assistant for many years. Before he wrote himself into a room with Vince Vaughn. I seemed to recall this fact about his buddy 18 months earlier, but the timing was wrong and I didn't have anything ready to go even if I could get him to pimp my stuff. Again, timing.

But it comes up in conversation again and I asked if he'd introduce me, I had after all just placed in teh QF of Nicholl and he'd know what that meant. He got my stuff and shortly thereafter called me and offered to help out. Going against my better judgment I sent him a comedy. It went to William Morris and came back with shitty coverage.

Embarrassingly bad.
(FYI, fart and dick jokes are added after the script's been sold.)

But he was cool about it and I talked to him again and said I have this drama, kinda dark and it made the QF of Nicholl so would he take a look at that. He agreed (there are some cool cats out there). I sent it to him and he forwarded it to William Morris for Coverage. Well, I guess he got bored and before the coverage came back read the script and really, really liked it. It helped that the coverage came back with a thumbs up within the next day or two and he asked if it was okay if he could forward it to Joel Schumacher as he knew they were currently looking for this kind of material. He asked me. if. it. was. okay.

(BTW by this time: I have been suckered out of my hiatus to write Straigtht Razor Jazz -- see other blog. I vow to take a hiatus every year, a spiritual purging, if you will. I botch this by going to grad school.)

Within a couple of weeks we get a nice email from Schumacher's company. Who are these guys? Great writing. I’d love to meet them.

A trip to LA where the meeting doesn't happen -- rescheduling is the name of the game, we finally nail downa lunch, butI"m back in chiacgo so I phone in my hellos and banter. But we manage to pitch our next piece ADAM PROPHET, he likes the idea enough and we have an open door for submisison. Now we just crack that script. (Draft number 7 coming up...) Aaron or Jeremy, if you're reading this you're either laughing from pathos or recognition, regardless at least you're laughing, right.

Who knows what will happen, but my name is known in some professional circles and in a good way. And now we're one step closer to the danger zone.

And that motherfuckers is how you get in the room. Easy, no?

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