So it's 7 am, my boss has left a message telling me that my screenplay is the greatest thing since sliced bread and I'm freaking out. I can barely contain myself. But there's one problem: it's 7 am. I've never been up this early. So now I have to wait for everyone else to wake up, which is a new experience. Now I know how my dad feels when he's itching to call me and has to wait 'till 11. Just kidding. He never waits.
To kill time I immediately went to Kinkos and made all of the copies she requested. Then I probably played Goldeneye on Nintendo 64.
Finally, it was after 10, and I called her. And the message wasn't bullshit, she was just excited on the phone with me, and I quickly drove over to her house to discuss everything - with the copies in hand.
I used to write everything down that happened to me. You might call it a diary, I call it...well it's a fucking diary, get over it.
So here's what I wrote:
March 28, 2002She sent the copies off to her people. I also sent a couple to the few people I knew that might be able to help. This was a short list, it included an agent at a small agency where I used to work as an assistant. And I waited, and waited...
...It was so hard waiting to call Cheryl (my boss) and go over there. I made five copies and went. We sat down and talked. She went on and on about how great my script was. I mean, I’ve never heard praise like this. And it’s coming from the person I most want to hear it from. She called it “innovative, original, brilliant”. She also said “it would be almost impossible for you not to get an agent off of this.”
I remember I was playing volleyball in Santa Monica. My cell phone rang and I ran off the court to get it. Ever since I gave her the script, I thought every time my phone rang it was most likely an offer for a million dollars.
At long last, this call was about the script. It was Cheryl's agent, Jay Sures, at UTA. Jay Sures is a pretty big deal. He's a partner there, and pretty much the big TV literary guy. He's the man. And he was talking to me.
He read the script. And he loved it! He said he read it twice. It was weird, he kept asking me if I had written it by myself. I said yes, of course. He kept on, "you didn't get this idea from anywhere? This is all you?" I'm like, yeah. It's not the cure for cancer, it's a dumb movie idea.
He goes, okay, well, I think this is amazing, and I'm going to get it to our film people and we'll go from there.
Holy shit, I thought, was this actually happening? Needless to say, I resumed my post in the front line of that volleyball game with renewed vigor and hammered some more balls down.
More waiting. And then...
I remember this phone call like it was yesterday too - I was at Jiffylube in Hermosa Beach, waiting for my oil to get changed. My phone rang, was this it? It was my boss, Cheryl. I knew immediately.
"I'm sorry, Irwin. There's nothing they can do with it. And I'm a TV person, I don't know where else to go".
It was amazing, just like that it was all over. I cannot describe the level of frustration. What happened to "you're guaranteed to at least get an agent off of this?" It stunned me how quickly she was done with it, there wasn't even an apology for getting my hopes up. But that was probably my fault.
I scrambled. I emailed that agent that I used to work for, to see what she thought of the script. She goes, "script? what script?" I swear to God she acted like she never got it, which was quite funny, because I HAND DELIVERED it to her the week before.
I understood what it's like when Hollywood turns its back on you.
"The Target" was dead. And then my phone rang again.
It was Jay Sures. He called me, without prompting, to tell me how much he loved the script, and how he didn't understand it either, but the film people thought it "wasn't big enough" or something. But that he had read it multiple times and I really had something with it, and that I shouldn't stop, I should keep at it and he knew it would sell.
I kind of laughed and I said, "Jay, it is so nice of you to call me and tell me this. But I have to be honest with you, I don't know how I'm going to get this thing out into the world on my own. The only person I really know at this point is Cheryl, and I'm just alone here with this script with no one to give it to".
It was a last ditch effort, a not so veiled attempt to get him to go: "I hear ya, Irwin, so I'm going to take you on as a client and we're gonna take over this town together!"
But instead, he started rambling about "cold calls" and "query letters", which is what everyone who will never sell anything does. And that was that.
I tried those things, and I've given the script to people over the years, but nothing has ever come of it. Sometimes I look back at that script, and I still don't fully understand it or why anyone would think it was particularly great.
And at this point of the story, I made a decision that was completely stupid and wrong:
I wrote another screenplay.
Clearly, I didn't learn my lesson. My hookup in Hollywood was a TV lady and a TV agent. I should've written TV stuff. But that was never "the dream". The dream was to sit on the beach, write movies, send them in, and not be bothered.
Supposedly I already had a good script on my hands that I couldn't do anything with, why write another?
Well, I had an idea burning in my head that was going to be even bigger than "The Target". It was (NOTE: these are the loglines and summaries as I wrote them back in the day):
"Freedom Island""Freedom Island" was going to be the one they couldn't deny. It was going to be my coming out party.
LOGLINE: The tale of a rebellious young man raised on an island that believes World War II is still being fought, who breaks out in search of the truth – and ends up finding love and freedom.
SUMMARY: Deemed the last of the resistance during World War II, a tiny island has awaited word for fifty years from a General on news of the fight for freedom. The island is run by a no-nonsense COLONEL who rules over the citizens and Nazi POW’s with an iron fist. His rebellious Grandson can’t sit by and wait for word any longer. He wants to get off the island and find the truth. Inspired by the beautiful Granddaughter of one of the Nazi prisoners, he sets off to America to contact the General. To his amazement, the war is over and the good guys won. He now must return to the island and convince the residents that the world is safe
Chapter 3 will be the party pooper...