I've written a lot of screenplays in my day. I'm not sure how many, but I know how many I've sold on spec: zero.
It's frustrating, obviously. But that's the business. I'm not exactly sure what has kept me going with this. It takes a ton of time and energy to write a feature script. And then to come away with absolutely nothing, it beats you down. And yet, I do it.
I think it's because it's the type of job I always imagined having. I don't like going into an office. I like staying in my sweatpants at home. And to keep that dream alive, I've continually forced myself to keep writing them through disappointment after disappointment.
In my twenties, I knew it would be tough but not impossible. In my thirties, I realized it is impossible.
But you're saying there's a chance!
No, I'm not! But I don't care, for some reason, I have to try just in case a miracle happens.
The funny thing is, when I was in my twenties and had hope, I really shouldn't have. I was much further from having any kind of chance back then. But ignorance was bliss.
Back then there was no Team Handleman. Now I have people I can actually hand it to so they can pretend to do things.
However, I realized that having some guy who represents sketch writers wasn't that helpful either. But recently something fortuitous happened...
My agent decided to become a manager.
He joined a management company that just happened to have a couple of feature managers who sell a shitload of spec scripts. Of course, shit load in this economy means 3, but still...
So I met with them. And although I was kinda forced on them by my agent (now manager), they were nice to me. My agent brought up that I had written a screenplay, and would they like to read it?
Before they could answer, I answered for them: NO!
Although I liked the script he was talking about, I didn't want them to read it. I could tell by the reaction I was getting from the script that it wasn't the big idea, big game changer that was going to fast track me into Shane Black Land.
Unbeknownst to them, I had concocted a strategy of my own: For the first time in my career, I would write a brand new movie "the right way".
Instead of giving them a script cold, a script they had nothing to do with from a guy they had nothing to do with, I would start from the beginning. I offered this proposal:
I am going to email you some ideas, I encourage you to say no to these ideas. At that point, I will send you more ideas. If, and only if, you love one of these ideas, will I then put forth some effort to start writing it, including you throughout the process.
They liked this idea. Of course they did. It didn't involve them having to read a 110 page script! Plus, they could actually influence what I was doing, thus giving them another reason to give it a chance.
I've learned again and again in my career that your ideas have a much better chance of succeeding if the people in charge think they came up with them, or at least, had something to do with creating them.
So that's what I did. I sent them ideas, and they liked one of them. I wrote an outline. They had notes. I fixed the outline. They liked it. And now I'm writing the script.
I call this the right way of doing things. Why? Because writing them on my own, with no help or judgement from anyone else, was most definitely the wrong way cause it never worked.
That's where I'm at. In the middle of writing this shit. And suddenly, there's pressure. Cause people are involved. I can't abandon ship, as much as I want to. That's probably a good thing. So I really hope I figure that Act 2 problem out.
Maybe next week I will share with you the idea of that other script I wrote that I wouldn't let them read. Cause I really think it's great. At least to me. Don't feel bad when you don't like it, no one else does either...