Monday, October 05, 2009

The Writing Week (Vol. 2) part 92 - Picking the Next Project

One of my stand-out memories from the last student-faculty meeting I had with my dramatic writing program chair was of some advice he gave me about going to LA. "Don't move to LA," he said, "until you have one script, one outline, and one treatment, all for different projects. If you go before that, you're not ready."

Of course, his 'rule' certainly has exceptions to it. In fact, it's more advice than an actual rule. People certainly can and do move out to LA with a single script. What his point was, though, is that uprooting and going cross country without any job or prospects lined up is quite a big leap of faith. The best time to do something like that is when you're as prepared as possible. For an unproduced, young writer, that time comes when you have a solid script library.
I'll admit pretty freely that I'm not as pleased with my script library as I'd like to be. My post-Apocalyptic spec is by far my most polished. I have a half dozen first or second drafts of other projects, but they're nowhere near ready to go out to anyone.

my manager and producer and I are hoping to hear back from agents regarding my script this week - we felt that getting an agent from one of the big agencies onto the team might help lock-in a sale. Part of that preparation process on my end (and with my manager) is to choose my next project. I had been under the impression (in large part due to that conversation with my professor) that to take any meeting or attempt to sell any script without anything to back it up would be a major mistake. According to my manager, though, I don't necessarily have to have another script in hand, ready to go. What I do need to have, though, is other ideas.

Last week, I sent my manager another script I've been working on, the Roman army one. It's not ready, but as part of a manager's job is to help a writer develop ideas, I asked for his opinion on it. It's a big idea, and he felt that it is probably too out-of-the-box for the current acquisitions climate. Studios are largely scared and are buying conservatively now, and an idea as out there as mine will likely appear too great a risk. So, I sent my manager a list of ten loglines for other ideas I've been toying with. Some already have drafts, but a lot of them are just something I've been playing with. This week, we'll talk about them and pick one or two to move forward on. The plan from there? Hope that I can take some meetings and get the opportunity to pitch the ideas, ideally landing a pre-emptive purchase (wouldn't that be a dream?) or an option.

I guess the moral of that story is, if you don't have another script ready to go, at least have solid ideas for future projects. Personally, I still wish that I had more ready to go, but my writing has evolved rapidly since I last worked on the other projects (what with spending basically this past year on the post-Apocalyptic spec) that I wouldn't be comfortable presenting those as current indicators of my writing ability. And that, to be honest, is what's most important, I think.