How I Made My First Feature Film
CHAPTER TWO - The Playís the Thing
So there I was, Mister Big Time director/producer and I had no script. I didnít
have the Armani suit either, but thatís another subject. I had a 747-sized desire,
but no destination in mind. By this time Iíd rented a small office, turned the
phones on and printed up some letterhead and cards. Nice office, but no script.
I figured Iíd go outside and look for another matchbook. Only this time the
smiling big rig driver would be holding a screenplay out the window and the
copy would read, ďIíve got your screenplay right here!Ē
Of course that didnít happen - Iíd never be that lucky. But the answer was
out on the street on top of a newspaper dispenser. It said, ďIt pays to advertise.Ē
So, I did. I placed these tiny ads, (thatís all I could afford) in the Hollywood
trade papers - Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. The ads ran only once
or twice, (and again later on) but the results were incredible. During the next
year I read almost one thousand scripts! Of course things are different now
with the Internet and all, but I didn't have that luxury back then.
By now I'd heard that all the really great scripts were already in the greedy
hands of a few powerful talent agencies. But they couldnít have scooped up all
the good scripts?. Odds are theyíd missed one or two. The Writerís Guild says
that only five out of a thousand scripts are ever optioned, and only one out
of a thousand is ever produced, (thatís why I read so many!). Iím not a fast
reader, so about three a day was my max. I also wanted to make sure that the writers
remembered me later on. What I did was send all of them a detailed letter
after Iíd read their script. I would write the letters immediately after I finished
reading their script so the characters and story were still fresh in my mind.
They liked this - someone out there was giving them feedback about their script.
Much different than the attitude from an arrogant agency or pretentious producer.
This extra work paid off for me in later years. Those same writers would send
me their new screenplays before they sent them to an agent. Soon,
I had a constant stream of scripts flowing in. The stacks of unread scripts
grew and grew until I had almost 600 in the office. And more came everyday!
But most of them were terrible. A veritable Pikeís Peak of putrid prose! I was
beginning to think those nasty agents did have all the good scripts. But there
were a couple of nuggets in those mountains of manure! In fact, one of them was
a new script from a writer whoís earlier script had been a stinker. Iíve made seven
features to date, and three of them were from this original group. Lessonl: Be nice to
Out of the thousand scripts I read, there were two I zeroed in on. And one in
particular: ďA Heart for the Tin ManĒ by a writer named Bishop Holiday.
Next Article: How
I Made My First Feature Film - Chapter Three (Getting Started)
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