You would think that after all the years I've been in the business that I would learn about producers and promises.
One of the hardest things to do when you're looking for money is to trust anyone who promises he can find it. And I emphasize "he" as I've only ever dealt with one woman producer who didn't come through anyways. I don't mind women producers, just never found any.
In fact I'd prefer a woman producer because they tend to be more honest.
I was dealing with a producer, and I use that term lightly, who hasn't had a film made for at least 25 years. One would suspect that maybe he wasn't that good of a producer. So why would I even speak to him?
Because it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Sparky, and that's not his real name, comes on like gangbusters. He always has a 5-picture package of which two screenplays are mine. There's no option of course, but I would say that 70% of the scripts I hand over to producers aren't optioned.
Because they have no money.
I gave my Ghostkeeper 2 screenplay and proposal to Sparky who immediately told me he'd get it to the "right people" and mentioned real names, all of whom could finance my movie.
But that was 3 months ago.
And I hadn't heard from Sparky for a month. Okay, he did have jury duty for 2 weeks. So finally I email twice and learn he's in San Diego and will be back soon and call me Monday. That was last week and no call. I try again this week. He answers.
He can't meet because he's really busy with other projects.
What other projects?
Like I said, Sparky hasn't had a film made in over 25 years. But bless his heart, he is confident that this package of a handful of screenplays will be done.
And the irony is that I know they won't be made.
Sparky is an old school producer, someone who sounds like the most confident producer on the planet. He really believes he's gonna do it. So what's his biggest asset?
Sparky once told my director friend that he'd let the director direct a movie he was trying to get made... if my friend found the money. To which my friend asked Sparky why would he need him at all?
You never know what people are capable of. And that's the weakness of guys like me. We want to believe. It makes me feel better and I can tell you I've got a producer working for me. And I should know better. And I should know the basic law of movie-making.
Don't trust them and don't loan them any money. And never let them drive your car.
Sparky, like a lot of producers, is usually broke. It's funny how producers who raise millions of dollars often end up broke. I know at least five producers whom I've worked with who ended up broke. One recently called to see if I knew where he could find a place to live -- for $500 a month!
And they're not necessarily small time guys either. Sam Spiegel who did major features in Hollywood ended up broke. And why, you might ask? One producer was quoted as saying that he made lots of money, unfortunately he spent a lot more.
There's a great line in Mel Brooks movie The Producers in which Zero Mostel, a down on his luck producer, sees another producer on the street in a limo with a showgirl. Zero shouts "that's right baby, when ya got it, flaunt it."
I do feel sorry for producers generally. They have no union and they have no scale fees. Some producers I know usually end up having to dig into their fees to help finish the movie. I know of 4 producers who made movies I wrote who ended up with nothing.
Because they're responsible for the budget. A director goes 2 days over budget, guess who's responsible to pay for those days. The producer. After all he's the money guy.
Where does that leave me?
I'll see Sparky again, but I'll also be talking to other producers. My dream is to find a smart woman producer who I know will be far more honest and with more passion than those guys.
I'm getting a stiff neck.