Thursday, November 10, 2011

End of the week

Nothing really of any significant happenings in Sherman Oaks. I'm refining the cover of Emperor of Mars book, hope to have it in early next week. Met one of the handful of producers who still maintain contact with me, he  had a meeting with someone who thought the Emperor screenplay could be a great vehicle for Will Smith's boy Jaden, who did Karate Kid 4, I think.

But I wasn't sure of 2 things, that the source really knows Smith's agent, and that I'm never sure of what the producer says. But as my director friend Paul says, "you never know what these guys can come up with."

I would say about 2/3rds of the producers I know aren't really capable of putting a movie together, the other third just barely and not in a short time period. But you never know who can unexpectedly do something for you so I keep all doors open.

This producer also reached out to Lions Gate with a screenplay I wrote called Deadhead, about a jetliner that suddenly veers off into the northern Pacific. It's actually not a very expensive movie, as I discussed CGI (or VFX as they say now) effects for the jetliner and discovered that the airplane effects would cost around $20,000. Cheap as borscht.

All in all it could be done for under $1 million. That's the key word now for a low budget movie, although $15,000 seems to be common too, where everyone works for free and you use a Canon 5D SLR to shoot it.

He said he had a director who just finished a horror film for that much, called Live Animals, wherein people are put in cages. This is what you deal with when you deal with some producers. All they usually see is money, not story.

But do I care? No.

I have screenplays that were written to sell, and screenplays that are my little pets and you know which ones sell faster. Oddly enough its the pets. Never figured that out.

So as of now, I'm editing a trailer for the Ghostkeeper release and re-reading a screenplay I wrote called Mojave for possible no-budget filming with that 5D.

But the big thing right now for tv movies is holiday movies; and not necessarily Christmas, but any holiday. I've been asked to write a thanksgiving script, a Valentine's Day script and a Mother's Day script.

What's the catch?

It doesn't mean that they'll make it.

Five years ago a writer could get a meeting and pitch an idea and then told to go home and write a few pages, upon which a deal is made, you get some initial funding and you go away and write it.

Today you have to have the competed screenplay. No pitch, no money up front. There are deals made now and then, but whereas it was standard practice, it's now rare. Fortunately for me, I do write a lot of specs, it comes easy to me, after all these years.

And besides what else would I be waiting for?

Writers Guild does not like this nor encourage it, but they don't have to pay my bills.

So I write.

Now, which one; Valentine's is coming up in February so it's probably too late to write one now as it would be finished in December, too close to the holiday to get it made. So maybe Mother's Day and afterwards Thanksgiving.

Better than waiting for that big call from Spielberg.