Sunday, January 2, 2011

So, I've written a screenplay

I have mentioned before, my "HearthTales" screenplay. Or, "The Hearth Tales". I them both titles, but I've called it by the former for so many years now, well, I don't know.... I last mentioned it here on November 18th. Since I've pretty much finished it, as much as any screenplay is ever finished anyway, I'm now looking for someone to produce it. It's a process.

So, what does one do about that? I don't have an Agent, or Manager, or an Entertainment Law Attorney. Those are all something I need to start looking into, however. I've just been so busy writing and building a catalog that my work that, well, there wasn't much time for that, till now.

Anyway, the screenplay has come together very well. This isn't my first screenplay, just my last project. I am already six months into a treatment for a screenplay titled, "America" that I've been working on with a producer in California.

As to my HearthTales screenplay, from the opening scene of Osama Bin Laden and a re-explanation of his death, through the dark and the light of it, to the ending ripe for a franchised type sequel, it's looking good. Yeah, yeah, you can talk a big story until it gets read. Every screenwriter, or novelist has written "the next big thing", if you listen to them. Well, I don't think it is the next big thing, but I have to have that attitude, at least in my head, don't I? I do know I would love to watch it in a theater (or okay, even on DVD) one day, even if someone else had written it.

So, what to do now? I could get some people together and shoot a short for it, kind of a teaser, or a short version of it. That's one option. It seems that's appreciated when you are trying to pitch a screenplay, so they have something cool to watch. Or, I could run the gamut of trying to attract an agent for it, or a manager for both of us writer and script, or try to hook the right Attorney. I could enter screenplay contests (it's already been through one and got a good review). Or, I can contact Producers and studios; actors, or get someone with a "name" attached that would definitely be a plus in a pitch meeting.

In a series of seminars I once took, years ago, famous Director Stanley Kramer once told us that to get a film made, you just do it. He said he got his first film made by going to the actors and saying that he had the studio and bank behind him; he told the bank and studio he had the actors, and the studio he had the bank and actors. So his one word summation? Lie. No, really, he said that, he said, "If I have to sum it all up in a single word, Lie. Lie to whomever you have to, but get it done."

But I have two issues with that. One, I don't like to lie; and two, I don't like to pitch. I hear all about it but really, I have no desire to. Take a meeting? Sure. But I feel about pitching like I do about contests, they are annoying and, well that about sums it up. They're annoying.

My biggest problem in life hasn't been talent or enamoring myself to someone, people seem to get along well with me for some reason. But dealing with business, money, forced networking? Well, I can do it, I just find it distasteful. There is nothing I dislike more than "selling" myself, in interviews for jobs, or whatever.

That is one of the things I really like about writing. You write, no one really cares about your history, they want to read your work and that, sells you. If you are great, you don't so much have to jump through hoops; not as much anyway. I mean yes, they do want to know you will continue to produce, that you can be worked with. That you can play ball, so to speak. I can do all of that... with my eyes closed.

But getting back to HearthTales. I have been trying to find a movie that is similar to it. See, in case you don't already know, Hollywood likes when you can say that your movie is like this or that other movie. I've tried to be fresh and different and guess what? If you do a good job of that, it's kind of hard to say there are other films like it. Lovely, right?

The closest I could come to recently was "The Hidden", for elements of people trying to stop a bad guy (an alien in this case, whereas my film has a demon).

The "House that dripped blood" (with, Christopher Lee). I remembered seeing "House...." when it came out. I found it very, very interesting.

But I was just sitting here watching Netflix and came across "Trapped Ashes". Interesting flick. Anthology horror movie like "Creepshow" or the old "Tales from the Crypt".

But rather than random stories from a comic book, or the "CryptKeeper" talking between scenes, mins has a frame holding the tales the characters tell one another. This "Trapped...." film is done pretty well and has multiple directors including Joe Dante, Ken Russell and others, each directing a storyline. They call the scenes in between, wraparound scenes; I call them a frame for mine. I think the word for each, more closely describes what they do for each film involved.

Cinemafantastique Online has an article on "Trapped...." that is very interesting. Cinemafantastique itself offers a few other similar films: Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror. I've always liked these anthology, story in a story, or portmanteaux style films. Not as a steady diet to be sure, but once in a while it's fun to see something that takes you on a journey to multiple unrelated places, yet somehow is held together by a central theme.I guess it's the ADD in me that is attracted to it. But then, I should think our modern  "MTV" type brains also should like that.

So, since that film was similar to mine, it's not a bad idea to look at who produced that film, all the people involved, individuals to studios. So I took a look at the cast of producers and directors and it's a bit overwhelming. Here is what I found:

Production Companies

    Independent Film Fund (present) (as Independent Film Fund/CINV)
    Cinema Investment (present) (as Independent Film Fund/CINV)
    Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) (present) (as Tokyo Broadcasting System International, Inc.)
    Asmik Ace Entertainment (present)
    Elephant Studio (producer) (as Elephant Studio / Five Windows)
    Five Windows Productions (producer) (as Elephant Studio / Five Windows)
    11:11 Mediaworks
    Trapped Ashes

Directed by
Sean S. Cunningham         (segment "Jibaku")
Joe Dante         (story segments "Wraparound")
John Gaeta         (segment "My Twin, The Worm")
Monte Hellman         (segment "Stanley's Girlfriend")
Ken Russell         (segment "The Girl With Golden Breasts") 

Produced by
Dennis Bartok    ....     producer
Michael Frislev    ....     executive producer
Misako Furukawa    ....     assistant line producer: Japan
Yoshifumi Hosoya    ....     producer
Joe Ikeda    ....     associate producer
Akira Ishii    ....     executive producer
Yasuyuki Iwanami    ....     associate producer
Takahiro Maeyama    ....     associate producer
Masakazu Nariai    ....     co-executive producer
Shinji Ogawa    ....     co-executive producer
Daisuke Ooka    ....     co-producer (as Daisuke O-Oka)
Masayuki Sano    ....     associate producer
Yasushi Shiina    ....     executive producer
Norihiko Tani    ....     executive producer
Masayuki Tanishima    ....     co-producer
Hironori Terashima    ....     associate producer
Masao Teshima    ....     co-executive producer
Christopher Tricarico    ....     co-executive producer
Hirosuke Usui    ....     associate producer
Masazumi Watanabe    ....     co-producer
Yuko Yoshikawa    ....     producer
Yoshihiro Yuhki    ....     line producer: Japan (as Yoshihiro Yuki)

A lot to digest, right? Well, that is what I have to do now, I guess. I need to continue trying to attract an agent, find an agent or someone to advocate my screenplay, and continue working on my other screenplays and finish up my novel. I just finished it and I'm not in the editing stage.

Once that is ready to send off again, I'll have to start the process for the book also; possibly, write a screenplay for it. Now I had the book already in the editors queue at Knight Publishing, but I had pulled it in order to rework it. And, I'm so glad I did. Because I've taken it from an anthology book, with a concept that no one got, and rebuilt it into a concept and a novel of sorts. And I've made it much more accessible to the reader.

So the hard part is over, and the hard part has begun. You have to know how to write a screenplay and you have to have the talent for it, but then you have to sell it, three equal parts. Skill, talent, sales. None of it is easy, but in the end one can only hope that it is all rewarding.

Someone gave some good advice when they said that if you are writing screenplays (or novels for that matter) and you aren't doing it for the love and passion you have for it, you're in the wrong business. They also said, if you would continue doing it, even if you never sold a thing, then maybe you are in the right business after all.

I know that selling my writings has little to do with my need to write them. But it would be nice to get some notoriety and sales involved. Passion always goes better with benefits.

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