Friday, October 26, 2012

Miscommunication in ScreenplayLand


My producer set up a skype session with my co-author and me.  We talked about using kickstarter to raise money to make a trailer to show potential movie funders.

One of the rewards we talked about was reprints of historical posters.

A few days later, the producer called – what would I think of hiring an artist to incorporate scenes from the movie into the posters?  That sounded fine to me.

A few days after that, the producer emailed me the link to a website where such posters are designed.  The website looked professional.  I sent the link to my co-author.  She agreed.

Then the producer called.  The cost for 4 posters was going to be $3500.  The originals are copyright free. He wanted my co-author and me to pay for these posters. He would pay the other costs for setting up the kickstarter.

I told him I hadn’t thought I’d be out-of-pocket to get the movie made.

Our option contract says nothing about my co-author or me paying anything.  We’re the writers. We get paid.

Besides, there’s no need for these fancy posters.  The originals we talked about are in the public domain. Our only costs would be for printing – not design.  But I didn’t think my co-author and I should pay even for that.

I freaked.  I emailed Gordy Hoffman of BlueCat. He responded quickly – there’s no need to pay anything up front for the rewards.  Build them into the budget for the kickstarter. Use the raised funds to pay for the trailer and the rewards.

I sent that information to our producer.  He became insulted. He said he’s done kickstarter before and he knows what he’s doing.

I emailed Hal Croasmun, founder of ScreenwritingU where my co-author and I learned our screenwriting skills.  Hal wrote back confirming that there’s no need to pay for any rewards in advance. And he suggested we consider Indiegogo as an alternative to Kickstarter because Indiegogo lets you use the money you raise, even if you don’t meet your projected budget (a requirement of kickstarter.)

By this time I was feeling frustrated, confused, and considering booking a flight to the next pitch festival in Los Angeles to find a different producer.  My co-author, a former college professor, offered to draft a letter to our producer.  I edited it. She edited my editing.  It was more work than some of our stories – we had to give this our best shot at diplomacy.  We had to work from the point of view that we all want our movie to get made, even though we weren’t sure what our producer was thinking.


This morning I received an email.  Our producer has picked up our option. We are now officially in pre-production, waiting to learn if our first choice actor for the lead adult role wants the part. We are all on good terms again. Yay! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Bad Advertisement for Aging


I’m such a regular at the gym, that I’ve gotten a minor reputation. Some gym members correct my form and show me how to use equipment.  Others ask about the stretches I do – most of which were either given me by physical therapists, or modified by them. People over 50 seem to sense that what I’m doing might help them.

I'm always happy to explain what I'm doing and why.   And it often happens that a man who asks about my hip flexor stretch is awaiting a hip replacement. A woman who asks about my chest and shoulder stretches has a sister who had a mastectomy.

Yesterday a woman in her 20's came up to me. She was curious about a lot more than most people, and she didn’t seem to have any health problems of her own – at least that she wanted to talk about.

She tried to look patient when I explained that I do this because of my hip replacement. I do that because I had a broken collar bone, and this other one because of my mastectomy... I could see in her face that she thought she’d come up to a healthy old lady and instead found a really bad advertisement for aging.

It's not something I'd have wanted to think about at her age.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Blessing of the Animals


A friend whom I met, and only see, at the gym, a sister breast cancer survivor, told me about Blessing of the Animals at a nearby church.

Roar loves any chance to meet other dogs.  I suspect this is one reason he demands so many walks.  He sniffs every dog he meets.  I had no idea how many dogs get their owners out walking before 6 AM until we got Roar, or probably more accurately phrase, Roar got us.  Roar is training us – not the other way around.

My gym friend said the blessing would be at 7.  I asked AM or PM?  We often meet at the gym before 6:30 AM, so it could have been either.  She laughed – only us crazies are up at that hour.  The blessing would be at 7 PM.

I don’t know of any exclusivity in the invitations – but the only participants were dogs.  No cats, no birds, no fish, no hamsters, no ferrets, no skunks.  Roar was thrilled to meet about 30 other dogs, one of whom looked much like himself.  He and his reflection spent a long time sniffing each other.  

Finally the priest came out.  Many of the humans must have been there before.  They knew all the prayers and songs.  The priest passed out a pamphlet with most of the prayers on it and we tried to follow along.  The prayers had parts for the audience and parts for the priest. These were Catholic prayers, but none of the audience parts were sectarian.

After the last song, the priest came down the stairs and blessed the animals that couldn’t climb up to him. He called some of these infirm animals by name as he petted them. Then he climbed back up the steps and motioned the rest of us to climb up.

Roar, who refuses to climb the stairs in our house, rushed up the steps.  Then the priest tossed water onto the gathered animals.  Roar was confused.  He tried to get away from the rain. Finally it stopped and he pranced off.  None of the other dogs was in a mood to sniff any more.

My gym friend and her three dogs weren’t there.  The next morning she explained that she’d been waylaid.  Her dogs missed a good time.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Progress in the Movie World



Last time I wrote about this, the family screenplay I wrote with Jean had won the Gold Remi at Worldfest, and been optioned. 

So what’s next?

First we got a set of rewrite requests that we thought made sense. So we did them.

Then we got more rewrite requests that we didn’t think made sense. So, we explained why.

Then we got a skype session with both of us and the producer.  We agreed on an actor we’d like in the lead adult male role.  Turns out that the producer has worked with him before.  The producer promised to call him the next day.  

The producer emailed me that this actor has agreed to read the script.  Yay!

The producer also talked about using kickstarter to start buzz and raise money to make a good trailer to show potential bigger investors.  We know kickstarter donors like to receive goodies when they donate.  Since this is a period piece, we talked about modifying period posters that are now out of copyright (if they ever were copyrighted) by adding scenes from our movie script.

The producer emailed us the URL of a website belonging to an artist he knows.  Both Jean and I agreed that this artist could do a good job.

Then the producer asked us to come up with a name for our writing team.  Jean and I have been discussing names for 2 days now.  We have yet to agree on anything, but we have 3 contenders that might do, if we can’t think of a name we both love.  I want something silly like Bad Robot, and she wants something either about the two of us, or else something sweet.  I suggested Bat Watchers because we once went bat watching together.  She objected because we only did that once.

Now we wait.  Will the actor decide to be in our screenplay? Will we think of the best name for our writing team? And ultimately, will our movie go to movie theaters or direct to DVD, or even happen at all?  We have an option, not a contract.  So everything is still nebulous.