Now that the airline pilot/producer wasn't able to fund Emperor because of winter and some unknown reason about the funders, which he told me was one word, "greedy" which I took to mean some of the several producers might have wanted more money.
When you get a handful of money people in the room, it's like two cats in a file box, there's gonna be trouble. And this was only 5 producers (I'm including all categories of producer title including Executive Producers and Co-producers as well.)
But how about 20 Producers?
There once was a very fine British movie called The Wicker Man with Edward Woodward, a great Brit actor. The story is about a policeman who goes to a strange island off the coast of England to find a missing girl. But once on the island he cannot leave. It was produced by Peter Snell.
Then in 2006 an American company remade it as the industry now seems to lean towards comic books, sequels and remakes for their movie ideas. It starred Nicholas Cage, an ok actor but no Edward Woodward. But he can carry a movie, so I'll give Nic that.
This new version of Wicker Man had 20 producers. That means each one of them must have been getting some money.
Was it better because it had 20 producers? What do you think? It was awful, they even changed the ending to a "Happy ending" that we all know audiences prefer. But Nic needs the money and the cost of the movie itself was probably less than his and the producers salaries.
I didn't know it yet, but very soon I would have 2 producers, not 5 and not 20. Two.
About a week after the pilot and I had our rift, Sean, the producer from Alberta called me and said they wanted to make Emperor of Mars. Sean loved it, could see it made in the golden wheatfields of Saskatchewan in the summer. This was December.
They would even option it and pay me, "whatever I wanted" was Sean's words. And I could direct it too. And they would fund it themselves and he went into a financing scheme that they just did by incorporating two provinces and two tax credits. But it was for a $1.5 million movie. Mine was $5 million. Sean said the classic words., "this will be the only project we do this year, Jim".
I said OK, sounds good.
Then his partner, Rick, the quiet one sent me the first draft of the contract. They would option it for 2 years and an option fee of $2000.
An option fee with the guilds, either WGA or WGC, is 10% of the purchase price. The purchase price was $100,000.
And $2000 isn't 10% of $100,000 no matter how you look at it or how much you pay the lawyer. I called Rick and asked if it was a typo? Well, Rick said, they'd had a hard year and inbetween the vacations to Hawaii and Vegas and the property Sean was buying and the hundred bottles of expensive wine he bragged to me about...
They just didn't have the money.
Seems like old times. I was right back to almost the free options again. But right now nobody was offering anything more and they had made 40 movies, albeit financed 80% by US money and the rest was basically tax credits, not equity on their part.,
But nobody else was calling.
So I said OK. Again.
I signed the contract, got my $2000 and then did what writers do when they make a deal.
I waited. And waited.
(Thurs: Promises & Lies)