The Black List came out a few days ago. That's where Hollywood agencies and managers vote on the best unproduced screenplays of the year. That's also where I usually get angered by everyone writing about zombies and putting the word "fuck" in their titles.
This year's list didn't really stand out too much. There wasn't anything that annoying about it (though there was a "Fuck" title, of course). If anything, the screenplays this year all seemed really serious.
And by serious I mean there were almost no comedies. Also, there was a nice lack of movies that seemed to just throw every gimmicky thing into one story, like last year's "Bethlehem":
A group of people struggling to survive a zombie apocalypse make an alliance with a vampire, trading themselves as food in exchange for protection since zombies don’t eat vampire.
Everyone knows zombies don't eat vampire, that's just common made up knowledge.
But this year was different. I counted 24 scripts that are set in the past. Historical dramas. And there's another 5-10 that are set in the future or involve time travel. That's pretty amazing. What the hell happened to present day? Are we not good enough for these jerks? There's some interesting shit going on in '12, people. Recognize.
Is this some sort of "Mad Men"/"Boardwalk Empire"/"Playboy Club"/"Pan Am" effect. Hello? Everyone forgot about Playboy Club and Pan Am already?
I don't know if those shows have anything it do with it, but it almost felt like instead of the Black List it was trying to be the Oscar List.
Anyhoo, onto more important things, like me. And my awesome scripts that may or may not have fuck in the title. If you can't beat'em, fuck'em. I mean, join'em.
And then this...
And finally, this masterpiece:
Well, I figured out all of those cards and jammed them into 100 pages of sheer movie magic. I gave that script to my manager. But just my regular manager who does TV stuff.
Quick aside: I've had the same agent for a while, since I was on Mind of Mencia. You know he believes in me if he stuck with me through those years. Anyway, 2 years ago he decided he wanted to get out of the agent business and become a manager. Why? Who the fuck knows? I just know that he doesn't wear ties anymore.
So he becomes a manager, and because he's the first representative I've had who took my calls, I stuck with him. Now I had a manager and no agent. But there was a secret awesome bonus to this move: the management company he went to also happens to have two feature writer managers who sell a shit load of scripts.
Okay. Back to the story. The regular manager guy gave me some notes. I rewrote it. A lot. Then gave it back.
And yesterday, I got a phone call from one of the big feature manager guys. And he liked the script! Which was great and a big relief. Cause it's always uncomfortable when you write something and it's bad and then they have to pretend like maybe it's not.
I sat on the phone with this guy for an hour talking about the script. He went through, in great detail, everything in it. It was awful...and fantastic!
It was awful because it's kinda hard hearing all of the stupid words you've written down read back to you and have to take responsibility for them. Also, there were so many things that as soon as he said them I knew were dumb and wrong. You think with a hundred pages, you're gonna get away with some shit. Nope! Wrong. He read every word, and pointed out all of the dumb ones.
But it was awesome, and quite possibly Team Handleman's finest hour, precisely because he DID read every word and was enthusiastic about it and making a huge effort to work with me to make it better. Pain is love, guys. Ja Rule had it right.
So after 2 years and many drafts, this guy did the impossible - made me excited about the script again!
I know that there are a lot of writers that have had nothing but positive experiences with their "people". That just hasn't been the case for me. Especially with feature people. The people who work on the movie side of the business, for the most part, act the way you imagine Michael Bay acts. They think they are rock stars. They act like the busiest people on Earth. They think they are working on more important things than everyone else. But the reality is they're selling Rob Schneider movies.
So this process with these guys, who have been nothing but great, has been a huge step forward and quite possibly has given me back the will to live. Though I'm sure that will be destroyed again shortly.
I am addressing these notes - which mostly involved clarifying things and some tonal issues, nothing major - and then we will try to sell it next year.
I will keep you updated. The dream lives on!